What is ‘Nudging’ in Education and How Does it Contribute to Behaviour Change?

Part of the learning brief series

A guide for

  • Implementers
  • Decision-makers
  • Researchers

Why this matters

Nudging is a behaviour change strategy increasingly used in education to address challenges like student attendance, teaching practices, parental and caregiver engagement, and cultural attitudes. Nudges leverage concise messages at strategic decision points to influence behaviour towards desired outcomes. The essential purpose of a nudge is to encourage people to change their behaviour in response to a particular problem.

The Global Education Evidence Advisory Panel (GEEAP) classified “giving information on the benefits, costs, and quality of education to parents, caregivers, and children,” as one of three ‘Great Buys’ However, the effectiveness of nudging interventions varies greatly depending on contextual conditions and target population. Read on to learn more.

Key insights to improve practice

  • Iterate on evidence-based principles of behavioural design to fit the context through regular user feedback
  • Identify and prioritise individuals close to making a change in their behaviour, or those at a ‘tipping point’
  • Reach individuals at the right level, pace, and tone to increase uptake
  • Use nudges as an entry point for a human connection to be established and leveraged
  • Align immediate, short-term needs and experiences of individuals with long-term educational goals
  • Consider nudging as one factor within an ecosystem of enabling and constraining factors

Areas for further exploration

  • How can nudging interventions be made more interactive to facilitate two-way communication and enhance learning?
  • What safeguarding considerations should be explored when nudging vulnerable populations to prevent unintended negative consequences?
  • Nudging is low-cost, but is it cost-effective?
  • How can nudging interventions be more squarely focused on learning?

Useful tools and resources

A curated list of resources from EdTech experts to help continue your exploration of this topic.

Behaviour Change Key Principles for EdTech

Safeguarding Boys and Girls: When Chatbots Answer Their Private Questions

The Use of SMS and Other Mobile Phone-based Messaging to Support Education at Scale: A Synthesis of Recent Evidence

On Tipping Points and Nudges: Review of Cass Sunstein’s How Change Happens

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Koomar, S. (2024). What is “Nudging” and How Does it Change Behaviour in Education? [Learning Brief]. EdTech Hub. https://doi.org/10.53832/edtechhub.1011

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