01 02 03 Institute for Effective Education, University of York: Text messages change perceptions, but not behaviour 04 05 15 16 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 31 32 33

Text messages change perceptions, but not behaviour

An experiment in Oklahoma examined the effect of giving pupils mobile phones, and then texting them messages to encourage them to participate at school. Almost 2,000 young people (aged 11-13) took part, all in schools with high percentages of children eligible for free or reduced-price lunches. The pupils were randomly allocated to four different groups – two groups received daily text messages, another received credits for reading books, and the last was a control group. The text messages exhorted the value of schooling, for example, “Each year high school students make $21,023. College graduates make $58,613. Do the math.”

Students changed their views about the value of education, and reported that they put in more effort at school. However, it made no difference to their actual attendance or behaviour at school, nor to their achievement. The authors suggest that this may be because the benefits are so far in the future that it is not worth the pupils expending effort now, or because they lack the self-control to commit to studying or going to class.

Source: Information and Student Achievement: Evidence from a Cellular Phone Experiment (2013), Harvard.

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