Monday, November 2, 2015

The Power of Tweaks and Nudges

Some recent articles talk about small tweaks or nudges that can motivate people to engage in activities. As we enter the second half of the semester, some students are falling behind or forgetting to do assignments. It may be time to increase the tweaks and nudges.

My own experience with hybrid classes reminded me that students lead very busy lives and don't always read the syllabus, course calendar or moodle shell. I found that even though I had given all the dates for the  assignments and I wanted them to be independent learners, that they did not always do assignments on time. I then started to send short reminder emails (using the moodle news forum), trying to be positive and motivational and discovered that the submission of assignments in a timely manner seemed to increase.

When discussing this with students they felt that the reminders were helpful in keeping them on track and made them feel that I really cared about them and their success. This was especially true when the tweaks or nudges had some positive content (ie. After our discussion in class, I look forward to reading your papers) rather than simply a reminder message.

This strategy also worked in classes that meet on a weekly basis. Why not give it a try?

Here are two recent New York Times articles that talk about the the good, the bad and the ugly of tweaks and nudges.

A Better Government, One Tweak at a Time

The Power of Nudges, for Good and Bad