Ben Castleman has nudging research and college access work highlighted in Chronicle article on helping students succeed.
The researchers, Ben Castleman and Lindsay C. Page, took their work a step further. They tested a simple, cheap solution: Send at-risk students a series of customized text-message reminders that they could reply to for extra help. The messages raised enrollment substantially at the test sites where students were underserved.
That’s one example of how behavioral economics — which considers the cognitive, emotional, and social factors that keep people from following through on their intentions — has been applied to college access and success. Testing behavioral interventions is a small but growing part of higher-education research — and one that’s getting lots of attention.
There’s enough behavioral work being done in education that Mr. Castleman, an assistant professor of education and public policy at the University of Virginia, wrote a book, The 160-Character Solution, summarizing it and suggesting how it might be applied. Ms. Page, an assistant professor of education at the University of Pittsburgh, co-wrote a recent paper summarizing college-access research that includes a section on behavioral approaches. And ideas42, a nonprofit organization working on behavioral interventions, has more than a dozen higher-education projects in the works.