Using Text Reminders to Increase Attendance and Attainment: Evidence from a Field Experiment

20 Pages Posted: 1 Apr 2019

See all articles by Michael Sanders

Michael Sanders

King's College London

Elspeth Kirkman

Behavioural Insights Team

Raj Chande

Behavioural Insights Team

Michael Luca

Harvard University - Business School (HBS)

Elizabeth Linos

University of California, Berkeley

Xian‐Zhi Soon

Behavioural Insights Team

Date Written: March 8, 2019

Abstract

Although the benefits of adult literacy and numeracy programs are well-established, high drop-out rates in the first weeks of a program mean that many adult learners do not reap the benefits of such programs. This study presents the results of a large-scale field experiment aimed at using text message reminders to increase student attendance and attainment within UK government-sponsored literacy and numeracy programs for adults. We find that the text intervention has a large and persistent effect on student attendance as well as performance on exams designed to test numeracy and literacy. At the end of the academic year, we find a 19% increase in attendance rates, and an 8 percentage point increase in the likelihood of passing exams. At a cost of less than $5 per learner, including labor costs, this suggests that low-cost behavioral nudges can have a disproportionate impact on educational outcomes even for hard-to-reach populations such as adult learners.

Keywords: field experiment, education, behavioural science, behavioural insights, behavioural economics, texting, belongingness, identity

Suggested Citation

Sanders, Michael and Kirkman, Elspeth and Chande, Raj and Luca, Michael and Linos, Elizabeth and Soon, Xian‐Zhi, Using Text Reminders to Increase Attendance and Attainment: Evidence from a Field Experiment (March 8, 2019). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3349116 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3349116

Michael Sanders (Contact Author)

King's College London ( email )

Strand
London, England WC2R 2LS
United Kingdom

Elspeth Kirkman

Behavioural Insights Team ( email )

London, SW1A 2AS
United Kingdom

Raj Chande

Behavioural Insights Team ( email )

London, SW1A 2AS
United Kingdom

Michael Luca

Harvard University - Business School (HBS) ( email )

Soldiers Field Road
Boston, MA 02163
United States

HOME PAGE: http://drfd.hbs.edu/fit/public/facultyInfo.do?facInfo=ovr&facId=602417

Elizabeth Linos

University of California, Berkeley ( email )

310 Barrows Hall
Berkeley, CA 94720
United States

Xian‐Zhi Soon

Behavioural Insights Team ( email )

London, SW1A 2AS
United Kingdom

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