June 11, 2013
Daily inspiring text messages fail to inspire US students to perform better
A groundbreaking experiment that bombarded US high school students with inspiring text messages was found to be a success on all counts except one: it made no difference to how the students performed in school. The Guardian reports.
Roland Fryer, an economist at Harvard University, helped establish the experiment involving nearly 2,000 pupils at state schools in Oklahoma City.
The students were given free mobile phones in return for receiving daily texts written by a trend-setting advertising agency, encouraging them to stay in school and study for exams.
The aim of the study was "to assess whether students better understood the link between human capital and outcomes", Fryer wrote in a working paper just published by the National Bureau of Economic Research.
The texts were sent at 6pm each day, including weekends - calculated as the best time to reach the sixth and seventh grade students, aged 12-13.
Some pupils could earn additional airtime credits by reading books and responding to questions.
As to why the study failed to improve academic outcomes, Fryer suggested it could be because the students only had a vague idea how to increase their achievement once they had been motivated.
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