Using ‘nudges’ to encourage student engagement: an exploratory study from the UK and New Zealand

Alan Graham, Ian Toon, Kate Wynn-Williams, Nicola Beatson

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This paper investigates whether student engagement is influenced by the use of specific nudges to direct behaviours to achieve a desired outcome. Evidence already exists that the use of nudges may have a positive effect in the wider population, although little prior research has demonstrated if there are potential benefits in the ‘choice architecture,’ or design, of such educational tools. Using student cohorts studying core undergraduate accounting modules at United Kingdom and New Zealand universities, a number of measures of engagement, such as attendance and student opinions on the efficacy of certain nudges were investigated.

The results do not appear to show a significant improvement in student engagement, although a closer examination of the evidence suggests that this is likely to be a consequence of the type of nudge used and the way that an individual student relates to the message that the academic is trying to convey.
Despite no significant results, this paper is still able to provide a contribution to the important area of student engagement and nudge research. The lack of response may be interesting to others to build upon in this under-researched area.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)36–46
Number of pages11
JournalInternational Journal of Management in Education
Issue number2 Part A
Early online date26 Apr 2017
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2017


  • nudge
  • choice architecture
  • student engagement


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