More than Just a Nudge: Supporting Parents of Young Children with a Sustained Text-Messaging Program

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Date and Time: 
Monday, December 11, 2017
2:00 pm – 3:30 pm
Susanna Loeb
Stanford University

Recent studies show that texting-based interventions can produce educational benefits in children across a range of ages. Many of these interventions nudge students or their parents towards activities they already know how to do. We study effects of a text-based program for parents of preschool and kindergarten children that provides information on the importance of child development and new activities to do with children. We find large positive effects of a generic program for preschool children who start in the bottom half of the distribution of early literacy. We follow this initial study by distinguishing a general program from one adding differentiation and personalization based on each child’s developmental level. Kindergarten children in the differentiated and personalized program were 63 percent more likely to read at a higher level (p<0.001) compared to the general group; and their parents reported engaging more in literacy activities. Effects were driven by children further from average levels of baseline development indicating that the effects likely stemmed from text content and indicating that the texts provided more than a nudge.