Friday, November 16, 2018, 02:00pm - 03:30pm
Phil Oreopoulos, University of Toronto
"The Remarkable Unresponsiveness to Nudging College Students and What We Can Learn from It"
Over the last four years I have been working with college instructors to research how online exercises, text messages, emails, and electronic calendars can be used to improve academic achievement. The setup works remarkably well in getting students to engage and contemplate advice within their own contexts. Instructors impose a small participation grade at the start of a course for completing an online ‘warm-up exercise’. This leads to exposing virtually all students to randomized content designed to improve mindset, study habits and motivation. While some of these efforts reveal hints of improved study time, mental health and very enthusiastic feedback about user experience, I have yet to estimate markedly improved course grades or retention from my tested programs, including ones based on previous promising studies. The findings raise several questions: 1) whether UofT students are not very influenced from ANY program offered outside the classroom; 2) whether different findings would arise if the interventions were aimed at community colleges or U.S. institutions where persistence rates are much lower; 3) whether more specific advice or targeted efforts might be more effective; 4) whether improvements to experience and mental health might, on their own, justify scaling up the programs.