WWC review of this study

Summer Nudging: Can Personalized Text Messages and Peer Mentor Outreach Increase College Going among Low-Income High School Graduates?

Castleman, Benjamin L.; Page, Lindsay C. (2016). Perspectives in Peer Programs, v27 n1 p11-15. Retrieved from: https://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ1124459

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
    , grade

Reviewed: February 2017

No statistically significant positive
Meets WWC standards without reservations
Access and enrollment outcomes—Indeterminate effect found for the domain
Comparison Period Sample Intervention
Significant? Improvement

College enrollment

Automated text messaging vs. Business as usual

1 Semester

Full sample;
2,920 students





Evidence Tier rating based solely on this study. This intervention may achieve a higher tier when combined with the full body of evidence.

Characteristics of study sample as reported by study author.

  • Female: 56%
    Male: 44%

  • Urban
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  • Race
    Other or unknown
  • Ethnicity
    Not Hispanic or Latino    


In Dallas, the authors collaborated with the Dallas Independent School District, which serves about 58,000 students in 227 schools.

Study sample

The Dallas, TX analytic sample was 56 percent female, 33 percent Black, 57 percent Hispanic, 8 percent White, and 1 percent Other race/ethnicity. 79 percent qualified for free/reduced priced lunch.

Intervention Group

The text message intervention was comprised of a series of ten automated text messages sent to students and their parents (when phone numbers were available) to remind them about tasks required for college enrollment and to prompt them to request additional help when needed. The texts included reminders to access important paperwork online, register for orientation, register for placement tests, complete housing forms, sign up for/waive health insurance, and also offers to help students complete the FAFSA and interpret financial aid award letters and tuition bills. A text message was sent approximately every five days during July and August. The peer mentor outreach intervention involved peer mentors (students already in college) making contact with students and assessing their readiness to matriculate in college in the fall semester. Peer mentors discussed with their mentees various topics, including "whether students (1) were still planning to enroll in college; (2) were planning to follow through on their previously articulated plan; (3) had completed the FAFSA; (4) had received and reviewed a financial aid award letter; and (5) had registered for orientation and placement tests" (p. 150). Subsequent meetings and phone conversations served to address any other issues the students may have encountered.

Comparison Group

The students in the comparison condition did not receive the intervention and conducted "business as usual".

Support for implementation

"Signal Vine automated the actual message distribution, but its role was not visible to recipients. When recipients responded to a message, they connected with their assigned counselor who followed up to provide additional, one-on-one assistance" (p. 150). "uAspire and Mastery were responsible for peer mentor selection, training, ongoing support and supervision of the mentors throughout the summer" (p. 150).

In the case of multiple manuscripts that report on one study, the WWC selects one manuscript as the primary citation and lists other manuscripts that describe the study as additional sources.

  • Castleman, B. L. (2013). Assistance in the 11th hour: Experimental interventions to mitigate summer attrition among college-intending high school (Doctoral dissertation). Available from ProQuest Dissertations and Theses database. (UMI No. 3662580).


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