- A report about a sample of more than 2,000 community college students pursuing degrees in STEM fields were 10% more likely to return the following semester if they received text message “nudges” to encourage persistence and enrollment, according to a story in EdTech.
- The nudges encourage students to adopt time-management and study skills and remind recipients of important deadlines for financial aid applications and class registration.
- The researchers said their study backs community colleges’ overall support of STEM industries, as two-year institutions produce more than 50% of all STEM degree graduates nationally. Through a joint initiative by Jobs for the Future and Persistence Plus, several campuses in Ohio and Virginia are using texting initiatives to increase STEM course access and degree completion for 10,000 students.
The U.S. Department of Education has been clear about its plans to lend more federal support to community colleges and other schools that help students learn skills to secure jobs after graduation. Community colleges have worked to erase stereotypes about their degree value and training capacity, formed mostly through narratives about poor retention and graduation rates. While two-year colleges seemingly have a better view of how to connect academic preparation with workforce development, the nudge initiatives are a new approach to keeping students enrolled and on a path to graduation.
Several institutions have already experimented with text messaging services, seeing positive results in student engagement and retention. In fact, Education Dive named digital and social media, including mobile apps, for its 2017 Dive Awards Best Investment, as studies show the majority of schools have already invested in this. Georgia State University, for example, experimented with automated text messaging services in order to reach out to high-risk students and tackle the issue of "summer melt" — where students are admitted, but fail to enroll. The institution saw tremendous success in its trial year, as text message reminders and answers to students' questions reduced the summer melt rate by 22%.