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Thx 4 the msg: Assessing the Impact of Texting on Student Engagement and Persistence

Megan M. Tippetts (), Bobbi Davis, Stephanie Nalbone and Cathleen D. Zick
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Megan M. Tippetts: University of Utah
Bobbi Davis: University of Utah
Stephanie Nalbone: University of Utah
Cathleen D. Zick: University of Utah

Research in Higher Education, 2022, vol. 63, issue 6, No 7, 1073-1093

Abstract: Abstract As colleges and universities strive to increase persistence and aid students in reaching graduation, they are utilizing alternative communication strategies like text messaging. Behavioral economics researchers suggest personalized, regular nudges can help college students make decisions that positively impact their college career and keep them on track for graduation. The current study presents the results of a randomized field experiment where a text messaging program was implemented in a large college at a public university. The intervention utilized a mixture of automated and personalized text messages from academic advisors and allowed for two-way communication between individual students and their major advisor. Mulitvariate analyses revealed the intervention had no impact on university persistence, but it did increase the odds of persisting in the college to the end of the semester, moving the average, overall college persistence rate from 93 to 95%. Effects were concentrated on underclass students, whose persistence rate moved from 87 to 93% at the college level. Underclass students also showed statistically significant university persistence effects, moving from 90 to 95%. Students who received texts but never engaged with the texting program were significantly less likely to request an advising appointment or to apply to be a student ambassador than were students in the control group. More research is needed to understand what motivates a student to engage with the texting software and to identify what the longer-term consequences of using text messaging to communicate with students might be.

Keywords: Text messaging; Persistence; Behavioral economics; Behavioral nudges; Academic advising; Student success (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2022
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DOI: 10.1007/s11162-022-09678-8

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