New Anti-Poverty Program Spans 5 Counties

The program was devised with help from The Institute, a collaboration among 13 higher education institutions, with support from CEO and The Robin Hood Foundation, a New York City poverty fighting organization. Other partners include Unite Pennsylvania, a coordinated care network of health and social service agencies that use a shared technology platform to allow electronic referrals and sharing of information; Persistence Plus,a service providing students with messages designed to motivate lasting behavior, something Pohlidal likened to how the Women With Children “nudges” students toward success; and RESULTS, a group of volunteers trained to advocate for changes in government policy or funding that can have the biggest impact on reducing poverty.

Keep in Touch: How to Increase Student Engagement and Retention Through Text

P+ partner Kevin Li: "When more institutions are aware that this is not just a communication tool but that there’s a lot of science behind it, they will come on board and follow the same approach to benefit more students at scale and in a more cost-effective manner. In addition to nudging students toward certain behaviors, texting can also become a means for us to learn more about their perspective, their voices and their needs."

The Edge: Nudges for Academic Progress

Goldie Blumenstyk: Delaware Tech used text messages to connect students’ “personal values to their pursuit of health-care credentials, reframe misconceptions about who belongs in allied health, and appreciate the everyday practical utility of what they learn in class.” Such supportive counseling is more common in STEM fields, and not necessarily via text. If this approach keeps working, the payoff for the health-care sector, where demand is high for ethnically and racially diverse providers, could be huge.

Nudging Students Toward Holistic Supports and Postsecondary Success

Since 2017, our organizations, Jobs for the Future (JFF) and Persistence Plus, have partnered to learn more about nudging and tackle two of higher education’s thorniest challenges: increasing racial equity and developing talent for in-demand jobs. Instead of trying to determine whether nudging works or not, we recently engaged in research to identify the conditions under which nudges work—or don’t work. That information could help schools design strategies for nudging students in a thoughtful, nuanced manner. Our findings indicate that nudges can become an invaluable tool for holistically supporting learners in career pathways programs.

Values-Based Interventions Increase Reenrollment and Equity among Community College Pre-Allied Health Students

Addressing labor shortages within nursing and allied health professions, which have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, requires increasing persistence and equity among community college students pursuing these fields. In this study, we adapted and combined three values-based interventions (values affirmation, goal congruence, and utility values) into one treatment, delivered via interactive text messages, with the goal to support reenrollment among pre-allied health students during the pandemic. The treatment significantly increased reenrollment by 3 percentage points (74% vs. 71%). Examination of individual differences revealed that effects were concentrated among men (+11 percentage points), Black/African American students (+7 percentage points), and students who were not enrolled in Spring 2020 (+13 percentage points).

A Follow Up on Behavioral Nudge‪s‬

In the 2018, Episode 120 of Teaching Matters, we learned about Persistence Plus, a communication platform that uses text messages to give students behavioral nudges toward academic success. Now, 3 years later, we can dive into the successes of this platform and how it has been expanded to address a variety of student needs, including those surrounding the pandemic. We are joined by Dr. Ross O’Hara, Director of Behavioral Science and Education with Persistence Plus, and Marisa Vernon White, Vice President of Enrollment Management at Lorain County Community College, which has been an institutional leader in use of the Persistence Plus technology.

The Key Podcast: Making Room for Adult Students

"Students appreciate that sense that someone's actually paying attention to whether or not I succeed and they care and they want me to be successful and that really goes a long way."

Redefining Student-Centered Education During A Pandemic

Lakeland and Persistence Plus have partnered since 2017 to bolster student success via a marriage of behavioral science, mobile technology, and on-campus efforts. The strength of our partnership allowed us to tap into students’ hidden barriers with the onset of the pandemic and keep their experiences at the center of our interventions and programs. 

Hearing What Students Have to Say About Success in Online Learning­­­­­

While the internet is saturated with “hacks” for online learning, I want to connect you with the best experts I know: Students. Since March, the Persistence Plus mobile nudging support platform has asked more than 25,000 students from both two- and four-year institutions about their experiences with remote learning. Specifically, we gathered their advice about how to excel in this format, and I saw four key themes emerge.

4 Best Practices for Excellent Digital Communication

The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated a move to digital communication between higher education institutions and their students. As colleges and universities plan for the fall term, those communications can build needed bridges between students and their campuses.

Responding to Students’ Needs During Crisis

We’ve learned a lot in the past month about supporting students and staff in crisis, and we’re thinking about how those lessons play into the larger story unfolding in higher education today. In that spirit, we want to share the steps we’ve taken to help others during COVID-19, so we can all be better prepared for the future.

Nudging Works in CCs Among STEM Students

Two organizations working to instill innovation in American education found big success in "nudging" strategies for STEM students within community colleges.

Stop Thinking of College as “An Investment”

Discussing college as a public good in the same way that we do K-12 education could shift the entire concept of risk away from the individual student and toward something that all 257 million of us share so that nobody feels the weight of it. Only when we move away from these economic descriptions of college can we see it as something that everybody is entitled to and that benefits all of us.

Text Messages Making a Difference in Persistence at Local Community Colleges

Three local community colleges are trying to reach students where they are: their phones. The text message "nudges" started as part of a joint initiative by educational and economic-focused nonprofit Jobs for the Future and Persistence Plus, the company behind the messages.

Could Addressing Food Insecurity Be a Snap?

Nearly two thirds of eligible low-income college students do not access SNAP benefits. We now know too much about human psychology to think that better information is sufficient to solve this problem. We need to leverage behavioral science to nudge more students to access SNAP.

March 14: Lifestyles with Lillian Vasquez

This week on Lifestyles, Lillian speaks with Cecilia Le, Managing Director for Persistence Plus, a program that supports students, helping them to navigate the path to graduation.

Nudging Financially Insecure College Students to Success

To finish college while navigating the challenges of everyday life, these students need to plan well and access resources designed to keep them enrolled—with very little room for error. At Persistence Plus, we’ve spent the last 7 years using behavioral science and text messaging to support college students through difficult times so they can stay in school and earn a life-changing credential.

Giving a Nudge: How Digital Alerts Can Keep Students On Track

Put simply, nudges are interventions that steer someone toward a better decision without taking away their choice. In higher ed, they take the form of messages delivered through texts, emails or the learning management system that warn a student if they've fallen off track, alert them to important deadlines and make them aware of campus resources.

Could Texts From College Help You Graduate?

Times are changing, and some students in California are getting academic “nudges” as text messages sent out via artificial intelligence. Getting life advice from an algorithm isn’t that weird when you consider how much we already talk to our phones — from Siri to bot therapists.

Texting App Offers Students Encouragement and Advice

Persistence Plus is a texting service designed to help learners, especially first-year, first-generation, and adult students, succeed in college. Students receive periodic check-ins via text from an artificial intelligence (AI) chatbot with questions such as ‘What’s your biggest concern about school right now?’ The bot offers advice and resources specific to each student and rooted in behavioral science.

The Right Way to Nudge Students

Colleges have plenty of data on student progress but not enough guidance on how to act on it. Persistence Plus and our partner University of Washington-Tacoma offer five questions colleges should ask themselves about their strategy to nudge students.

Episode 120: Behavioral Nudges

Persistence Plus, Jobs for the Future, and Lorain County Community College describe their collaboration to nudge students, which resulted in a 10 percentage point gain in retention to the next year.

Personalized Text Messages Help Students Stay on STEM Path

Students at four U.S. community colleges are sticking with sometimes-demanding STEM courses with a little encouragement from personalized text messages that encourage them to complete classes.

Text Nudging Keeps Students on Track at Stark State

Stark State College is one of four community colleges participating in an initiative where selected students are sent periodic text messages to help them stay on track toward their degree. Early results are promising.

Conference Mines Strategies to Support the Educational Success of Foster Youth in College

At some colleges, Guardian Scholars programs have partnered with a technology company to use a mobile app called Persistence Plus, which tries to nudge students toward success by sending them questions about their goals and challenges, words of encouragement and information about resources that are available.

‘Nudges’ Are Helping UW Tacoma Students Graduate On Time

UW Tacoma’s strategies include using carefully crafted messages, delivered by text or a phone app, to remind both freshmen and upperclassmen of critical deadlines. The messages also offer encouragement, and even suggest practical, useful tips, such as time-management skills.

Community College STEM Students Getting ‘Nudged’ Toward Success

The ubiquity of cell phones make text nudges one of the more effective way to reach students, according to educators like Julie Ranson, vice president of student success at John Tyler Community College. “There’s a psychological component to these behavioral nudges, about talking to students about how other students cope with college. It’s not the be-all and end-all, but it is pretty transformative when it comes to streamlining student communication and meeting the student exactly where they are,” Ranson said.

I Wish My College Knew

Though we know colleges care deeply about their students, college students are probably even less likely than third-graders to simply be asked what’s going on with them. So we asked.

Teaching Newsletter: Helping Students Persist

Ms. Le described an effort in which students write themselves motivational messages. The company then sends them back “later in the term, when we know motivation flags,” she wrote. The messages are part of a suite of interventions that have been found to improve student retention.

Text Messaging Initiative Will Nudge STEM Students Toward Success

A new project is tapping into mobile technology to increase community college completion for students in STEM fields. Nudging to STEM Success — a joint initiative from Persistence Plus, maker of a mobile app for student success, and nonprofit Jobs for the Future — will use text messages to help students navigate the complexities of college, succeed in STEM studies and move toward college graduation.

Press Release: Jobs for the Future and Persistence Plus Launch Initiative Using Behavioral Science to Help Students Complete Community College & Earn a STEM Degree

Starting this fall, tens of thousands of students will receive evidence-based behavioral nudges over text message to help them navigate the complexities of college, succeed in STEM studies and move toward college graduation. JFF is partnering with Persistence Plus to strengthen student success rates broadly, and in particular in STEM pathways.

Letter to the Editor: Texting and College

"Text Your Way to College," by David L. Kirp (Sunday Review, Jan. 8), describes how nudging is helping underserved high school students choose the right college and enroll, and suggests helping many more. Let’s not stop with high school students.

Nudging Students to Succeed: A New Approach to Retention and Graduation

We know that despite the high support that may be offered, students are often afraid to ask for help regardless—especially if they already lack confidence in their academic skills. These students struggle to manage their time and responsibilities and setbacks can lead them to question whether their sacrifices are worth it, or if they belong in college at all.

The Most Important Factor in a College Student’s Success

Middlesex Community College in Connecticut recently launched a program that regularly sends personalized text messages to students’ smartphones based on individual student needs, activities and performance. For example, messages will remind a student about an impending financial aid deadline or remind a student before an exam about available tutoring resources. These messages are specifically designed to foster individual grit and a general culture of achievement. And it has improved retention rates by seven percentage points.

Targeting Behaviors and Student Success: A Q&A

One student commented how “it’s like you can’t really fail” because the nudges help motivate you. Students in developmental education, specifically, have mentioned the sense of community that nudges foster. One student said that nudges were a reminder that they were not “the only one having a crisis in the middle of the semester or worrying about finals.”

Keeping Students on Track with a Mobile Nudge

Looking for a way to help these "new traditionals" persist from freshman year into succeeding years, UWT turned to a technology that is already ubiquitous to most students: mobile. The institution was the first school to use Persistence Plus, a personalized mobile support system that uses behavioral interventions to reach out to, engage and support students throughout their college years.

Mobility, Connection, Support: Nudging Learners to Better Results

The Persistence Plus cohort in mathematics and economics had higher final grades and higher passing and course completion rates. Also exciting was a finding that nudges focused on early term completion of homework and quizzes resulted in Persistence Plus students having a missed assignment rate a third that of students not receiving Persistence Plus nudges.

Nudge Nation: A New Way to Prod Students Into and Through College

Perhaps even more than some other technology nudges, the Persistence Plus model shows that worries about the potentially dehumanizing effects of technology in an educational setting are misplaced. The firm’s model, while still a work in progress, may show just the opposite—that technology can be used to personalize student support through outreach of a kind that simply isn’t possible using traditional face-to-face methods.

Calling for Success: Online Retention Rates Get Boost from Personal Outreach

These little nudges are such powerful motivators that a start-up is building a whole business around them. The company, called Persistence Plus, is planning a full launch in early 2013 and will contract with universities to provide digital reminders—text messages or notes through a mobile application—of assignments or exams.

The ‘Personalization’ of Higher Education: Using Technology to Enhance the College Experience

An early example of this technology is being introduced by a social enterprise called Persistence Plus. Founded by Jill Frankfort and Kenneth Salim, who previously worked at the Kaufman Foundation’s Education Ventures Program, Persistence Plus uses smart software in mobile platforms such as cell phones and iPads to engage and motivate students to complete college. Think of Persistence Plus as the “Weight Watchers of college completion.”