Texting may be a new way to keep students engaged with their education, especially as they move from high school to college. It’s cheap, available nearly everywhere, and can be used to boost achievement and study habits, according to Benjamin Castleman.
Castleman, University of Virginia education professor and author of The 160-Character Solution: How Text Messaging and OtherBehavioral Strategies Can Improve Education, studied enrollment rates of students who were accepted into college but did not enroll for fall classes. He and his colleague, Lindsay Page of the University of Pittsburgh, reported that the number of students who decided not to attend college reached 40% in some school districts, particularly among lower-income and first-generation college students.
Castleman and Page used software that could send weekly text messages to high school graduates with deadline reminders, links to documents, and connection information for advisors. They found that 70% of students who received the personalized messages ended up enrolling for the fall semester, compared to 63% of students who didn’t receive the messages.
Other studies have revealed that texting student performance information to parents of middle and high school students in Los Angeles helped increase homework completion rates by 25%. Text messaging was also found to help lower dropout rates for adult learners in England by a third.
White House research uncovered similar results. A 2015 report discovered that low-cost text messages and emails got more kids to enroll and helped college borrowers to manage their student loans better.
“These types of strategies work well with some students and educational settings and not well for others,” Castleman said in an article that appeared in The Hechinger Report. “It’s not texting itself that makes these nudges successful; it’s attending to details like frequency, timing, and framing of messages.”