News: College Access & Success

Behavioral Science for College Access & Success: Introducing the Nudges, Norms, and New Solutions Gu

Friday, June 22, 2018  
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By Peter Sloane, Chairman and CEO, Heckscher Foundation for Children

Over the past decade, behavioral scientists working in postsecondary education have developed a wide range of innovative interventions that hold the promise to improve student outcomes. On the surface, they can seem simple and easy to implement—a reminder about a financial aid deadline, a prompt for students to plan which courses to take in the coming semester, or student testimonials about their college experiences—but subtle shifts in the tone, timing, and framing of these messages can make the difference between an approach that helps students achieve their college dreams and one that is ineffective or even backfires. Behavioral interventions have also never been captured in one place in a way that makes them easy to understand or implement, creating a degree of inaccessibility that has impeded their adoption despite evidence that they work.

Enter Nudges, Norms, and New Solutions, an exciting new project our foundation funded and helped to develop in collaboration with the Nudge4 Solutions Lab at the University of Virginia and ideas42. Nudges, Norms, and New Solutions is a free resource for educators that brings together 13 cost-effective and evidence-based behavioral science interventions to help get students to and through college. The interventions address three major challenges — access to college, college life and academics, and student finances — with concise information on what the interventions are, what they can do for students, and how to carry them out.

In addition to a free 96-page online Guide, a free Nudge Hotline staffed by behavioral science experts is available to provide educators with one-on-one support as they figure out the best way to successfully implement these interventions in their settings. This concrete, customized direction is designed to help practitioners take the next step toward putting interventions into action in a way that works specifically for their students. College advisors trying to get more students to take summer courses, and thereby graduate faster, for example, can call the hotline to get help designing a customized strategy for engaging students around summer enrollment.

We see this project as an exceptional example of our foundation’s inflection-point funding approach, which closely considers specific obstacles that keep underserved children from realizing their full potential and then identifies key junctures where our grants might change the course of their lives. We encourage you to share this resource with anyone who works to help get students to and through college, and to reach out directly to us with your feedback and thoughts.

Take advantage of this free resource here:

Phone and text message: 434-233-0165