NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
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When Studying and Nudging Don't Go as Planned: Unsuccessful Attempts to Help Traditional and Online College Students

Philip Oreopoulos, Richard W. Patterson, Uros Petronijevic, Nolan G. Pope

NBER Working Paper No. 25036
Issued in September 2018, Revised in April 2019
NBER Program(s):Children, Economics of Education

We evaluate two low-cost college support programs designed to target insufficient study time, a common occurrence among many undergraduates. We experimentally evaluate the programs across three distinct colleges, randomly assigning more than 9,000 students to construct a weekly schedule in an online planning module and to receive weekly study reminders or coach consultation via text message. Despite high participation and engagement, and treated students at two sites marginally increasing study time, we estimate precise null effects on student credit accumulation, course grades, and retention at each site for the full sample and for multiple subgroups. The results and other supplemental evidence suggest that low-touch programs that offer scheduling assistance, encouragement, and reminders for studying lack the required scope to significantly affect academic outcomes.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w25036

 
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