Written By: Dr. Charlotte A. Zeamer
This article describes the unique benefits of discourse analysis, a qualitative sociolinguistic research methodology, for evaluating financial literacy counseling. The methodology is especially promising for organizations that may lack the resources to implement “gold standard” large scale, randomized, experimental or quasi-experimental longitudinal designs. We begin with an overview of problems with program evaluation research on financial literacy interventions, particularly for smaller community service agencies. We lay out the advantages of discourse analysis as an alternative method of assessing program quality. We include a pilot study demonstrating the use of the research approach, and we conclude the description of this study with specific guidelines as to “best practices” indicated from the results. We believe discourse analysis has the potential to make data collection and analysis easier and more effective for counselors and agency staff at community service organizations, especially when the work of program evaluation is being done by the service providers themselves and the client needs may be atypical, complex, or very specific.