TC’s Peter Bergman and Eric W. Chan on NPR About Their Research on Text Messagin | Teachers College Columbia University

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TC’s Peter Bergman and Eric W. Chan on NPR About Their Research on Text Messaging Parents

Peter Bergman, Assistant Professor of Economics and Education
Peter Bergman, Assistant Professor of Economics and Education
Peter Bergman and Eric W. Chan, an Assistant Professor and doctoral student, respectively, in Economics and Education, spoke with NPR about their research on learning intervention via text messages to parents. In a field experiment across 22 middle and high schools in West Virginia, Bergman and Chan found that sending text-message alerts to parents about their child's missed assignments, grades and class absences resulted in a 39 percent reduction in course failures and increased class attendance by 17 percent. They found that the children of parents who received text messages from school were more likely to be retained in the school districts.

According to a preliminary draft of a paper released in February, the effects are "particularly large for students with below-average GPA and students in high school," resulting in a quarter-point gain in GPA on a four-point scale. The paper, titled Leveraging Technology to Engage Parents at Scale: Evidence from a Randomized Controlled Trial, reports that "the intervention appears to change parents’ beliefs about their child’s performance and increases parent monitoring." While there was no effect on test scores, "our results show that this type of automated technology can improve student performance relatively cheaply and at scale," Bergman and Chan write.

The four-minute story, broadcast on NPR's "All Things Considered," says the text messages did not necessarily increase parents' communication with schools, but it made their "perceptions of how their kids were doing more accurate." Many schools have online sites where parents can track their children's progress at school. But only 27 percent of parents use it, Bergman noted. Automated text messages made it easier for parents to monitor their children's grades, attendance and missed assignments.

Bergman's research focuses on information problems in human capital development and using randomized, controlled trials (RCTs) to find low-cost, scalable interventions that improve education outcome for low-income families. Chan researches high school-to-college transitions, college persistence, and the effects of student and family engagement on student outcomes. Both are researchers at TC's Community College Research Center.

LINK: Parent Alert! Your Child Just Skipped Class (WBEZ Chicago)

Published Friday, Mar 3, 2017