Nudge4 director Ben Castleman is recognized for his innovative use of large-scale text messaging campaigns to improve college access and success.
In 2011, Castleman, then an education doctoral candidate at Harvard, was trying to find a low-cost way to address the problem of “summer melt.” That’s the phenomenon in which high schoolers say they plan to go to college, but fail to follow through during the summer after senior year—when counselors and teachers can’t keep an eye on them. The issue is acute for low-income students, who are less likely to have college-savvy family members to help them with applications, financial aid forms, and so on. It’s a problem Castleman observed in Providence, Rhode Island, where he worked as a high school teacher and administrator before going to Harvard. Applying principles of behavioral psychology, he realized that to change these students’ actions, it would be necessary to meet them where they are. Where are they? On their phones, of course. So, along with Lindsay Page, a Harvard researcher, Castleman partnered with uAspire, a Boston-based financial counseling nonprofit, to test the effectiveness of text message–based reminders at combating summer melt.
Read the full post at Washington Monthly