Using nudges to promote student engagement

Alan William Graham, Ian Francis Toon

    Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstract


    This study measures the effects of using ‘choice architecture’ or ‘nudges’ as a way of increasing students’ time on task and engagement on modules. This method of behavioural science is posited on the encouragement of individuals to change their existing ways of acting by nudging them into altering patterns of behaviour, rather than prescribing them to follow such paths. For example, by students being able to see for themselves the benefits of making a particular change to their way of learning, perhaps through peer pressure, they may decide to choose that option.
    This is not a new idea. A Behavioural Insights Team or ‘Nudge Theory’ unit was set by the UK Coalition Government in 2010 to explore ways of altering behaviours in society, chiefly to encourage more altruistic actions by citizens, such as to conserve energy usage or live healthier lifestyles.
    Regular nudge messages were sent to a sample group of approximately 125 second year undergraduate students at a UK university. These were designed to encourage them to attend seminars, for example, by giving participation rates of previous weeks. Such messages were also used to try to improve engagement on the Virtual Learning Environment, by conveying a message that they should not miss out on what was available to all other students.
    Attendance and participation data were compared after the intervention with an identically sized control group. Initial indications show that using these nudges did not influence student engagement, however student feedback indicates that a more personalised approach may have made a difference. A second phase, perhaps involving another educational institution, would provide more useful data in this ongoing study.
    Original languageEnglish
    Publication statusPublished - 8 May 2015
    EventBAFA Accounting Education SIG Annual conference - Manchester Metropolitan University, Manchester, United Kingdom
    Duration: 6 Jun 20158 Jun 2015


    ConferenceBAFA Accounting Education SIG Annual conference
    Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


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