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The Power of the Nudge: Technology Driving Persistence


Providing timely nudges to students has been shown to improve engagement and persistence in tertiary education. However, many studies focus on small-scale pilots rather than institution-wide initiatives. This article assesses the impact of a pan-institution Early Alert System at the University of Canterbury that utilises nudging when students are at risk of disengagement. Once flagged, students received an automated text message and email encouraging re-engagement with the learning management system. Students who received the nudge re-engaged at a higher rate and spent more time engaging with online material. These benefits were sustained over two weeks, demonstrating a measurable benefit over time. Unexpectedly, the nudge resulted in persistence and engagement in other enrolled courses where a nudge was not provided, showing the transferability of benefits to other courses. Although no significant differences in GPA were found between test and control groups, future development will enable further research.

Published: 2023-07-13
Pages:8 to 18
How to Cite
Kay, E., & Bostock, P. (2023). The Power of the Nudge: Technology Driving Persistence. Student Success, 14(2), 8-18.

Author Biographies

University of Canterbury
New Zealand New Zealand

As a professional working in Student Success at the University of Canterbury, New Zealand. Ellie Kay leads the Analytics for Course Engagement programme, ensuring all students have the best opportunity to thrive. Ellie’s passion is in using data to leverage better outcomes for students, and her interests include student engagement, learning analytics, and enhancing the student experience.

University of Canterbury
New Zealand New Zealand

Paul Bostock is a Data Scientist working within the Student Success programme at the University of Canterbury, New Zealand. Paul received his PhD in Theoretical Physics from Durham University and has worked internationally applying data science and advanced quantitative analytics in both commercial and educational contexts for around 20 years. Paul also works closely with the University of Canterbury’s Master of Applied Data Science degree as a project supervisor.

Open Access Journal
ISSN 2205-0795