WWC review of this study

Summer nudging: Can personalized text messages and peer mentor outreach increase college going among low-income high school graduates? [Boston]

Castleman, B. L., & Page, L. C. (2015). Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, 115, 144-160. doi:10.1016/j.jebo.2014.12.008. Retrieved from: https://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ1124459

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
     examining 
    1,393
     Students
    , grade
    PS

Reviewed: February 2017

No statistically significant positive
findings
Meets WWC standards without reservations
Access and enrollment outcomes—Indeterminate effects found
Outcome
measure
Comparison Period Sample Intervention
mean
Comparison
mean
Significant? Improvement
    index
Evidence
tier

College enrollment

Automated text messaging vs. Business as usual

1 Semester

Full sample;
1,393 students

68.50

70.10

No

--


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: 60%
    Male: 40%

  • Urban
    • B
    • A
    • C
    • D
    • E
    • F
    • G
    • I
    • H
    • J
    • K
    • L
    • P
    • M
    • N
    • O
    • Q
    • R
    • S
    • V
    • U
    • T
    • W
    • X
    • Z
    • Y
    • a
    • h
    • i
    • b
    • d
    • e
    • f
    • c
    • g
    • j
    • k
    • l
    • m
    • n
    • o
    • p
    • q
    • r
    • s
    • t
    • u
    • x
    • w
    • y

    Massachusetts
  • Race
    Black
    37%
    Other or unknown
    56%
    White
    7%
  • Ethnicity
    Hispanic    
    25%
    Not Hispanic or Latino    
    75%

Setting

In Boston, Lawrence, and Springfield, the authors collaborated with the nonprofit organization, uAspire, which has an advising program that provides financial aid advisors for participating high schools.

Study sample

Sixty percent of the overall Boston analytic sample (which includes those randomized to the automated text messaging, peer mentoring, and comparison groups) were female, 37 percent were Black, 25 percent were Hispanic, 7 percent were White, and 30 percent were identified as other race/ethnicity. Seventy-eight percent of the analytic sample qualified for free/reduced priced lunch.

Intervention Group

The automated text messaging 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 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.

Comparison Group

The students in the comparison condition did not receive the automated text messaging intervention or peer mentoring and continued their usual activities.

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).

Reviewed: February 2017

No statistically significant positive
findings
Meets WWC standards without reservations
Access and enrollment outcomes—Indeterminate effects found
Outcome
measure
Comparison Period Sample Intervention
mean
Comparison
mean
Significant? Improvement
    index
Evidence
tier

College enrollment

Peer mentoring vs. Business as usual

1 Semester

Full sample;
1,146 students

73.60

70.10

No

--


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: 60%
    Male: 40%

  • Urban
    • B
    • A
    • C
    • D
    • E
    • F
    • G
    • I
    • H
    • J
    • K
    • L
    • P
    • M
    • N
    • O
    • Q
    • R
    • S
    • V
    • U
    • T
    • W
    • X
    • Z
    • Y
    • a
    • h
    • i
    • b
    • d
    • e
    • f
    • c
    • g
    • j
    • k
    • l
    • m
    • n
    • o
    • p
    • q
    • r
    • s
    • t
    • u
    • x
    • w
    • y

    Massachusetts
  • Race
    Black
    37%
    Other or unknown
    56%
    White
    7%
  • Ethnicity
    Hispanic    
    25%
    Not Hispanic or Latino    
    75%

Setting

The study involved peer mentoring for students who had recently graduated from high schools in Boston, Massachusetts. The study was conducted in collaboration with a Boston-based non-profit called uAspire.

Study sample

Sixty percent of the overall Boston analytic sample (which includes those randomized to the peer mentoring, automated text messaging, and comparison groups) were female, 37 percent were Black, 25 percent were Hispanic, 7 percent were White, and 30 percent were identified as other race/ethnicity. Seventy-eight percent of the analytic sample qualified for free/reduced priced lunch.

Intervention Group

The peer mentoring intervention involved peer mentors (students already attending 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 peer mentoring or the automated text messaging intervention and continued their usual activities.

Support for implementation

"uAspire and Mastery were responsible for peer mentor selection, training, ongoing support and supervision of the mentors throughout the summer" (p. 150). The study report did not discuss any other support for implementation.

 

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