Using Text Reminders to Increase Attendance and Attainment: Evidence from a Field Experiment
20 Pages Posted: 1 Apr 2019
Date Written: March 8, 2019
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
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