Announcing the Final Examination of Richard Thripp for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy

It has been a busy season for us with our eight-month-old son and completing my Ph.D. dissertation on the financial knowledge of Florida preservice teachers. Here is my official dissertation defense announcement, due to take place on November 7, 2019.

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Announcing the Final Examination of Richard Thripp for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy
Thursday, November 7, 2019 at 2:00 PM
University of Central Florida, Main Campus (Orlando)
Education Complex, Room 306

Dissertation Title: A Survey of Investing and Retirement Knowledge and Preferences of Florida Preservice Teachers

This dissertation investigated the financial and retirement knowledge, concerns, and preferences of preservice teachers at the University of Central Florida. The author developed a 39-item survey instrument and administered it to 314 preservice teachers in undergraduate teacher education courses in Summer and Fall 2019, who were primarily female elementary and early childhood education juniors and seniors. Topics covered included familiarity with plans, preference for pension plans versus defined contribution plan or increased salary, concern over pension vesting requirements, knowledge of the Florida Retirement System, anticipated challenges in funding retirement, financial knowledge, concerns about debts, and retirement investment preferences using a mock portfolio allocation exercise. For comparison, an electronic version of the survey was administered to 205 Amazon Mechanical Turk workers for $1.00 each, who were U.S. college students or graduates ages 18–25. Findings showed that preservice teachers had statistically significantly lower financial knowledge and retirement investing literacy; even those who were Age 25 or younger chose to put more than half their retirement money in money market and bond funds, which will almost certainly underperform equities over several decades. Although it may be ill-advised, 54% of preservice teachers preferred a defined-contribution plan over a pension plan. Preservice teachers were not particularly concerned about debts, but anticipated that low salaries will impede their ability to save for retirement. These findings suggest a need for financial education targeting Florida preservice teachers, particularly given that the Florida Retirement System substantially cut its benefits in 2011.

Major: Education Ph.D., Instructional Design & Technology
B. S. University of Central Florida, 2014
M. A. University of Central Florida, 2016

Committee in charge:
Dr. Richard Hartshorne
Dr. Debbie L. Hahs-Vaughn
Dr. Bobby Hoffman
Dr. Shiva Jahani
Dr. Gary Mottola

Approved by Dr. Richard Hartshorne, Committee Chair

The public is welcome to attend.


Keywords: financial literacy, preservice teachers, Florida Retirement System, retirement knowledge, financial challenges, plan preferences, investor behavior, nonwage benefits

Acknowledgments

I extend heartfelt thanks to Dr. Richard Hartshorne, my adviser, supervisor, dissertation chair, mentor, and friend, who gave me timely and valuable feedback, opportunities, and support at each step in my doctoral and teaching journey at the university, particularly as I developed my fervor for financial education and research. He was always patient even when I abandoned projects, missed deadlines, and delivered flurries of ill-conceived ideas and horrendous drafts. I also thank my fiancée, Kristy White, for providing invaluable support, particularly as we are new parents to a handsome baby boy born in February 2019. Working with my other committee members, Drs. Gary Mottola, Bobby Hoffman, Debbie L. Hahs-Vaughn, and Shiva Jahani, has been most helpful and instructive. I am appreciative of the opportunities, support, and resources I have been afforded at University of Central Florida over these past seven years. When in 2012 I set out to go back to school and earn my Bachelor’s in psychology, I had no idea I would end up coming this far. Thank you, Drs. Bobby Hoffman, Atsusi Hirumi, and Richard Hartshorne for accepting me to the Applied Learning and Instruction M.A. and Education Ph.D. programs, as well as Dr. Ronald DeMara from the College of Engineering and Computer Science. My favorite part of my time at UCF was instructing over 250 preservice teachers in educational technology as a Graduate Teaching Associate. Bringing a love of learning to others, at a massive scale, is an integral part of our identity and mission as Knights. Finally, I am profoundly thankful to the UCF students and Amazon Mechanical Turk workers who participated in this survey, as well as Drs. Junie Albers-Biddle, Kelsey Evans-Amalu, Regina Gresham, Marni Kay, Nevine Snyder, Lee-Anne Trimble Spalding, Cheryl Van De Mark, Scott Waring, and Anna Wolford for allowing me to visit their courses, without which this dissertation would not have been possible.

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