Department of Teaching, Learning and Teacher Education


First Advisor

Trainin, Guy

Second Advisor

Walstad, Bill

Third Advisor

Gatti, Lauren

Date of this Version



A DISSERTATION Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy, Major: Educational Studies Teaching, Curriculum, and Learning, Under the Supervision of Professor Guy Trainin. Lincoln, Nebraska: July 2020

Copyright 2020 Jennifer A. Davidson


The prevalence of in-school savings programs is widespread. Research on program efficacy is not. This mixed-methods case study contributes to the gap in the research literature. The study examined the in-school savings program, conducted in the elementary grades, from multiple perspectives. The first perspective was a longitudinal one that assessed high school student financial behaviors and evaluated if there were any lasting effects from participation in the program when they were in elementary school. The second perspective was an educational one that assessed what elementary school teachers and administrators who implemented the programs thought about the benefits of the program. The third perspective was an institutional one that assessed financial institution partner expectations in terms of program success and the costs and benefits of their in-school savings branch.

Results of the high school survey showed a correlation between participation in the elementary savings program and “good” financial behaviors later in high school. Most notably, students who participated in the elementary savings program were statistically more likely to be banked once in high school.

Education partners reported that the program was having a broadly positive impact on students and was worth implementing. Education partners also reported a desire to increase participation; a significant difference in participation of student tellers with more female than male; and a growing model of partnering with the school’s Future Business Leaders of America program.

Financial institution partners unanimously agreed that the program was well worth the minimal costs and their primary motivation in supporting the program was to help the local community and provide a financial education opportunity for students. Partners reported average start-up costs of $2300 and average annual costs of $1023. They also reported that the elementary in-school savings programs provided an experience that established and reinforced a savings habit and provided introductory job skills for students that were hired as tellers. Students that participated in the elementary program saved an average of $55 per school year.

Adviser: Guy Trainin