Project: Financial Literacy Tools for Low-Income Americans with Limited English Proficiency
Poor Americans live on such razor-thin margins that they need to avoid a $39 credit card late fee that effectively raids their savings budget. In collaboration with the nonprofit organization Doorways to Dreams Fund (D2D), the research team is developing and evaluating "financial entertainment" designed to improve the financial literacy of the working poor.
Casual video games that teach a discrete lesson—and forgo the the long-term commitment and special skills required by traditional video games—have great potential because they facilitate repetitive engagement with lessons, create a "performative" learning environment, and and are very popular among women. These engaging new products can be played on everything from mobile phones to personal computers, and are more likely to encourage saving among younger, lower-income, and new workers than traditional financial education.
As part of the new Financial Literacy Center established in 2009 with support from the Social Security Administration, D2D developed two games, described above, which were released in November 2010. In the next phase of this project, with support from the Financial Literacy Center, D2D will leverage these two games to reach minority adults with limited English proficiency.
This project is focused on meeting the cultural and linguistic needs of Spanish-speaking Hispanic audiences through the use of financial literacy video games. Such games hold tremendous promise as a way to attract financially vulnerable Americans to the financial education they need, and are generally well suited to adaptation for more specific audiences, such as a Spanish-speaking Hispanics.
Building on Year 1 work and leveraging the two games it created, this project is testing its theory that a tailored approach to financial education content and delivery can generate higher take up (and, potentially, impact) for a low-income Spanish-speaking, Hispanic audience.
We will count how many people visit and use the game sites to learn about the game players themselves and track players’ progress over time. We capture anonymous player data through voluntary site registration, voluntary surveys, thoughtfully designed in-game questions that do not interrupt game play, and an array of web site metrics. We will also conduct six small sample formal testing sessions to assess pre- and post-play levels of knowledge and self-confidence.