The Nudge4 Solutions Lab Celebrates Two Years and Looks to the Future

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As the Nudge4 Solutions Lab passes the two-year mark, we are taking the opportunity to pause and reflect on who we’ve become as a lab and share where we are headed in the future. We’ll follow this article with deep dives into some of our current projects. 

We grew our partnerships and developed a talented team

In March 2019, we announced three long-term partnerships with state agencies in Virginia, Tennessee, and Indiana to build states’ capacity to apply data and behavioral science strategies to improve educational and economic opportunities for their residents. With generous support from the Lumina Foundation and the Overdeck Family Foundation, we embedded data science and behavioral science capacity at each partner agency. These new teams will dive deep into the data, work with Nudge4 to co-develop innovations, and share results between agencies and with the broader policy, practice, and research communities. These partnerships add to other long-term collaborations we’ve developed, including a partnership with the U.S. Army Office of Economic and Manpower Analysis to support veterans education and a collaboration with CollegePoint and Bloomberg Philanthropies to provide high-achieving, low- and moderate-income students across the country with virtual college advising. 

“Our partnership with UVA has allowed the Virginia Community College System to expand our research capabilities and to deepen our understanding of what supports work best for different students.” says Cat Finnegan, Assistant Vice Chancellor for Institutional Effectiveness at VCCS.

Our Nudge4 community includes not only our three state partners, but also eight faculty and staff members, three PhD candidates, over two dozen current or former undergraduate research assistants, nearly a dozen affiliate researchers, and over 30 other project partners that you’ll learn about in our upcoming articles. 

We expanded our early work

We also spent time expanding our early work, bringing some of our projects to scale. Nudges to the Finish Line (N2FL) is an Institute for Education Sciences-funded, five-year project to use behavioral nudge strategies and mobile technology to increase degree completion among college students who have earned substantial credits but are at risk of withdrawing prior to completing their degree. Initial results from pilot phase indicate that our intervention decreased the rate of drop-out and increased the rate of degree-completion for students most at risk of withdrawing prior to completing their degree. Our scale phase hopes to build upon these findings, with outcome data from our 21 partner institutions expected later this year.

A Deeper Dive into Data Science 

As a direct outcome of the N2FL pilot results, our data scientists are pursuing new methods to better identify which students may be at risk of stopping out before earning a degree or credential. They are also developing algorithms that will recommend courses that fulfill requirements in students’ program of study and in which students are likely to succeed based on their similarity to students from prior cohorts.

We refined approach to projects

From our growth came a clear identity: 

1) We build public agencies’ capacity to apply data and behavioral science strategies to help people pursue tailored pathways to educational and economic success, 

2) we conduct rigorous evaluations of the long-term impact of social programs on people’s educational attainment and workforce trajectories, and 

3) we leverage data science, behavioral economics, and technology to design and test innovations that address persistent public policy challenges. 

Over the next few weeks you will hear from different members of our team about their work on some of our most promising projects. As these projects move through different phases – from a deep dive into the data, to developing an innovation and evaluating the results – we look forward to engaging you in conversation. 

Originally published via LinkedIn Pulse, view article here.

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