BECU is stirring up competition among local high school students with a new pilot program: an educational app that contains three financial literacy games.
The $10.6 billion, Tukwila, Wash.-based credit union is already well-versed in financial education through its various classroom-style financial literacy programs for local children, teens, college students and adults. The idea of adding a competitive gaming element to its high school program originated during a conversation between executives at BECU and Slalom Consulting, a Seattle-based management and technology consulting firm that has been providing services to the credit union for three years.
Slalom Consulting developed mLevel, a gaming application hosted on Microsoft Windows Azure, to boost knowledge among the customers and employees of its clients, said Justin Jarrett, a practice area lead for Slalom. For BECU, the first credit union to test mLevel, the app also presented an opportunity to enhance learning.
“We thought it would be a good way for us to reinforce the concepts we teach in class and help students retain information,” said Tom Berquist, vice president of member strategies for BECU.
BECU introduced the three financial literacy games–Banking 101, Give Me Some Credit and Car Buying Basics–to 10 classes in four Seattle area high schools in late May. In the first week and a half, BECU and Slalom discovered students had played more than 6,100 games and saw a 160% increase in their game scores. Each game is points-based, 90 seconds long and contains 30 multiple choice and true-false questions.
“The BECU mLevel Challenge combines two topics that are meaningful to many high school students: competition and smartphones,” Jarrett said. “Students love to compete, and as many parents know, they spend a lot of time with their smartphones.”
“We’ve been hearing from teachers that students are definitely more engaged with it than they expected them to be,” Berquist said. “Financial literacy is not the most entertaining topic, but the game makes it more interesting.”
Students and teachers who participated in the pilot program have been asked to complete surveys to evaluate the new app. Berquist said if the results are positive, BECU plans to introduce the app to more high schools this fall and expand its content.