Game-based Course Offers Small Changes to Build Financial Security

Personal financial management course for educators across Iowa

September 21, 2018, 1:42 pm | Cynthia Needles Fletcher, Laura Sternweis

AMES, Iowa – Small changes can have a big impact for long-term financial security. This is the message of a new financial management course for K-12 educators offered by Iowa State University Extension and Outreach.

small change.“Small Change: Building Financial Security” will be offered at several locations throughout the state beginning in late September and continuing through February 2019. Additional course offerings will be scheduled based on demand. The blended course includes one in-person class followed by self-paced online learning over four weeks. Participants may choose from online lessons covering finance fundamentals, insurance, investing and retirement planning. The course is structured using game-based learning principles, which allow educators to tailor their learning to their own interests and needs.

The course focuses on developing financial literacy skills across all grade levels while increasing student engagement, said Cynthia Needles Fletcher, an ISU professor and extension resource management specialist who leads the project.

“This is a course in which personal and professional needs meet. Educators can improve their personal financial management knowledge and skills, and increase their confidence with making small changes to build their own financial security. They also can prepare themselves as professionals to address financial literacy in the classroom,” Fletcher said.

Financial literacy is a key component of the Iowa Core 21st Century Skills and Social Studies for grades K-12, Fletcher noted.

“Participants in the Small Change course will gain a better understanding of the Iowa financial literacy standards and their relevance, given the social, demographic and economic challenges facing Iowa students and their families,” she said.

The course also connects participants with vetted curricula, resources and school-based programs that span elementary, middle and high school levels.

Registration is open

Educators and other school personnel may take the course for one license renewal credit at $20 or audit the course for $5. Educators may register now for “Small Change: Building Financial Security” at the following dates and locations:

  • Thursday, Sept. 27, 4:15–6:15 p.m.; Iowa State Education Association Headquarters, 777 3rd St., Des Moines; register at
  • Saturday, Sept. 29, 10 a.m.–noon; Dubuque County Library, 5290 Grand Meadow Drive, Asbury; register at
  • Tuesday, Oct. 2, 4:15–6:15 p.m.; Bettendorf Public Library, 2950 Learning Campus Drive, Bettendorf; register at
  • Monday, Oct. 8, 4:15 – 6:15 p.m.; ISU Extension and Outreach Woodbury County, 4728 Southern Hills Drive, Sioux City; register at
  • Tuesday, Oct. 9, 4:15–6:15 p.m.; ISEA Training Room, 203 E Tower Park Drive, Suite A, Waterloo; register at
  • Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2019, 4:15–6:15 p.m. ISEA Training Room, 4211 Glass Road NE, Suite E1, Cedar Rapids; register at

ISU Extension and Outreach is offering the course with support from the FINRA Investor Education Foundation.

“We have a two-year grant from the FINRA Foundation. In the first year we conducted focus group interviews, developed the curriculum and then piloted the course this summer with a group of teachers,” Fletcher said. “They told us that the course is helping them take a look at their own financial decisions, but also will help them educate their students in the classroom.”

Gene Hildreth, an educator at Ruby Van Meter School in Des Moines, participated in the pilot. Hildreth said the course “furthered my understanding of the importance of financial literacy in the lives of our students. This course certainly built my confidence in talking with others about financial literacy.”


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