When Studying and Nudging Don't Go as Planned: Unsuccessful Attempts to Help Traditional and Online College Students

72 Pages Posted: 17 Sep 2018

See all articles by Philip Oreopoulos

Philip Oreopoulos

University of Toronto - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (CIFAR)

Richard Patterson

United States Military Academy; Cornell University - Department of Policy Analysis and Management

Uros Petronijevic

University of Toronto

Nolan Pope

University of Maryland

Date Written: September 2018

Abstract

We evaluate two low-cost college support programs designed to target insufficient study time, a common occurrence among many undergraduates. We experimentally evaluate the programs across three distinct colleges, randomly assigning more than 9,000 students to construct a weekly schedule in an online planning module and to receive weekly study reminders or coach consultation via text message. Despite high participation and engagement, and treated students at two sites marginally increasing study time, we estimate precise null effects on student credit accumulation, course grades, and retention at each site for the full sample and for multiple subgroups. The results and other supplemental evidence suggest that low-touch programs that offer scheduling assistance, encouragement, and reminders for studying lack the required scope to significantly affect academic outcomes.

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Suggested Citation

Oreopoulos, Philip and Patterson, Richard and Petronijevic, Uros and Pope, Nolan, When Studying and Nudging Don't Go as Planned: Unsuccessful Attempts to Help Traditional and Online College Students (September 2018). NBER Working Paper No. w25036. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3250582

Philip Oreopoulos (Contact Author)

University of Toronto - Department of Economics ( email )

150 St. George Street
Toronto, Ontario M5S 3G7
Canada

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (CIFAR)

180 Dundas Street West, Suite 1400
Toronto, Ontario
Canada

Richard Patterson

United States Military Academy ( email )

600 Thayer Rd
West Point, NY 10996
United States
(435) 640-9054 (Phone)

Cornell University - Department of Policy Analysis and Management ( email )

Ithaca, NY
United States
(435) 640-9054 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://https://sites.google.com/site/richpattersoncornell/

Uros Petronijevic

University of Toronto ( email )

No Address Available, M5S 3G8

Nolan Pope

University of Maryland

College Park
College Park, MD 20742
United States

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