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.”