The Remarkable Unresponsiveness of College Students to Nudging and What We Can Learn from it

114 Pages Posted: 29 Jul 2019

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)

Uros Petronijevic

New York University (NYU) - Department of Economics

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: July 2019

Abstract

We present results from a five-year effort to design promising online and text-message interventions to improve college achievement through several distinct channels. From a sample of nearly 25,000 students across three different campuses, we find some improvement from coaching-based interventions on mental health and study time, but none of the interventions we evaluate significantly influences academic outcomes (even for those students more at risk of dropping out). We interpret the results with our survey data and a model of student effort. Students study about five to eight hours fewer each week than they plan to, though our interventions do not alter this tendency. The coaching interventions make some students realize that more effort is needed to attain good grades but, rather than working harder, they settle by adjusting grade expectations downwards. Our study time impacts are not large enough for translating into significant academic benefits. More comprehensive but expensive programs appear more promising for helping college students outside the classroom.

Keywords: behavioural economics of education, nudge, college student achievement, coaching, mindset, RCT

JEL Classification: I2, J24

Suggested Citation

Oreopoulos, Philip and Petronijevic, Uros, The Remarkable Unresponsiveness of College Students to Nudging and What We Can Learn from it (July 2019). IZA Discussion Paper No. 12460. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3427597

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

Uros Petronijevic

New York University (NYU) - Department of Economics ( email )

19 West 4th Street
New York, NY 10012
United States

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