Nudging is an educational influence method that involves architecting subconscious processes and reactions towards a goal that the student already desires. Nudging includes social, personal, and environmental factors, described below.

Social Nudges

In Relation to Others

  • Reputation - Help students share their successes with others

  • Conformity - Give lower performing students reason to improve by showing them in the context of slightly higher performing students

  • Collaboration - Give students opportunity to work with each other

  • Competition - Some students will respond well to opportunities to outperform others, be careful to do this in a way to not alienate students who do not enjoy competition

When Influenced by Others

  • Trust - Students are more likely to comply with request from others whom they trust. Be sure to be trustworthy—keep commitments and confidences, do what you say you will do

  • Likability - Students are more likely to comply with request from others whom they like. Find ways to connect with students' interests.

  • Empathy - Students are more likely to comply with request from others whom they feel a connection to. Find ways to understand students and provide them with information that helps them understand you.

  • Reciprocity - Students are more likely to comply with request from others from whom they have received something. This is tricky to do while also avoiding giving rewards. Symbolic or verbal gifts are best.

  • Solicited commitments - Ask students to do specific, manageable tasks

  • Role Model - Provide an appealing and credible role model that communicates or demonstrates desired actions and the satisfaction that comes as a result

  • Immediacy - Immediacy is the way we signal closeness, willingness to communicate, and positive feelings to another person. Ways to create immediacy include the following:

    • Use the student's name

    • Use plural pronouns (we, our)

    • Use humor

    • Ask questions

    • Give greetings

    • Make positive evaluations

    • Make and keep promises

    • Give self disclosure

    • Be calm

    • Provide illustrations

    • Apologize

    • Be near the student

    • Make eye contact

    • Smile

    • Use gestures

Personal Nudges

  • Habits - Help students develop positive habits that drive positive behavior

  • Loss aversion - Create low stakes opportunities to lose, like bonus and penalties for reaching thresholds and milestones

  • Urgency - Create a feeling that something needs to be done now

  • Inertia and Status Quo - Activities that are started, or typical, are more often completed

  • Optimism - Help students stay optimistic by providing opportunities for, and celebrating, success

  • Ownership - Collecting badges, prize boxes, collectables etc. that demonstrate progress

  • Completion - Visually illustrate the steps and current stage in a process to encourage students to complete

    • Collecting badges, prize boxes, collectables etc.

    • Levels, points

    • Endowed Progress effect

Environmental Nudges

Ease of Use

  • Limit ambiguity - Be sure that the UI and instructions provide clear indications of functions and how students should interact with the course

  • Limit selections - Too many options can be paralyzing, it is better to provide 2-3 really good choices than all 10 possible options

  • Defaults - When one option is more common, select it for the student, but give them the option to change it if they like

  • Reduce effort - Where possible, remove or automate steps to complete a task

  • Pleasant user experience - Make the user environment aesthetically pleasing in appearance and interactions

Information Design

  • Framing - Guide how students react to a particular choice by giving it context to support the outcome the student should desire

  • Anchoring - Students tend to rely more heavily on the first piece of information offered (the “anchor”) when making decisions

  • Partitioning - Breaking information into smaller portions make them easier to consume

  • Priming - When students are exposed to some information, it affects how they respond to other information

  • Chunking - Help students remember by grouping related information into smaller, easier to remember chunks of information