A behavioral "nudging" campaign at four community colleges improved student persistence rates, according to the report Nudging to STEM Success (NTSS) released by Jobs For the Future and the technology company Persistence Plus.

The promising results of the NTSS initiative reflect the opportunities that nudging offers, and they have important implications for future investments in and explorations of behavioral nudges as a way of fostering student success and advancing equity.

The purpose of this implementation report is to help community college leaders, foundations, and public education policymakers understand the impact that nudges have on student success, especially for students from populations that typically have low rates of college completion.

Overall, NTSS produced positive results among the more than 9,500 students who participated, with outcomes including the following:

  • 72 percent of subscribed students persisted after their first semester of nudging, compared to 56 percent of those students who opted not to receive nudges;
  • 62 percent of subscribed students of color persisted after their first semester, compared to 46 percent of those who opted out;
  • Among students over age 25, nudging had an even greater effect, with 64 percent of those opting for nudging persisting after their first semester, compared with 44 percent of those who opted out.

For college leaders seeking ways to augment and strengthen existing efforts to promote student persistence, nudging seems well worth considering. With its capacity for adaptation to particular college contexts and differentiated messaging for students, nudging affords the opportunity to bring support to students without the need to hire many more advisory staff. It is an effective strategy for helping students through transitions from term to term. 

A link to the full report from JFF can be found under Related Content on the left.