My phone carrier sends a push notification to my mobile when my data is low. My Spanish app does the same when I haven’t practiced for a few days…. Or weeks… Okay you caught me, months! And my bank always lets me know when I’ve done too much shopping.
These notifications are designed to keep us informed, and, in my case, help me to pretend that I’m a functioning human being. Should I go to the park today? Sure, it’s going to be sunny. Can I get by in Spain without buying a phrasebook? Probably not. Can I afford those jeans? Definitely not.
So some researchers over at Columbia University thought: “Hey! We should message parents when their kids miss class or don’t turn in their homework.” And would you believe it, it worked!
Peter Bergman and Eric W. Chan of Teachers College, Columbia University, had this to say about their findings:
“In a field experiment across 22 middle and high schools, we [sent] automated text-message alerts to parents about their child’s missed assignments, grades and class absences. The intervention reduces course failures by 39% and increases class attendance by 17%.”
The study proved to be very successful in helping students who were struggling academically. It found that those students not only improved their grades, but were also more likely to stay in school.
Now, that’s science we like!
The study took place over a six year period, in the largest school districts in West Virginia and Los Angeles. Teachers were able to message parents when their children failed to hand in assignments. Th experimenters used automated messages like this one:
Parent alert: Sara has 5 missing assignments in science class. For more information log online.
The most interesting result was that the majority of parents didn’t log online to follow up. The mere act of sending the update direct to the parents’ pockets was enough to make a difference. They were better at keeping in touch with school and, presumably, spoke to their kids about their work, and encouraged their progress.
It has been proven that when parents get involved with their children’s studies, they are more likely to succeed. But too many teachers assume that parental engagement is down to family income, class and education. You and your school can engage parents by simply sending out push notifications or text messages to their phones.
School reports are rarely given out to parents, and make it all too easy for students to shade the truth from parents. However, timely push notifications from your school can prompt better behaviour and better grades.
Head researchers at MIT welcome this kind of simple, cheap parental interaction with schools like yours. “I think there is a serious problem in ed-tech funding, which is that there’s too much interest in things that look sexy, that are on the horizon, and are untested and unproven,” he says. “If we can adopt a technology that is almost universally accessible to parents, it has positive outcomes on their kid, and it doesn’t cost very much, that seems like a positive thing to me.”
For more information on how to implement this strategy in your school, or about our mobile apps, which will help you communicate with parents for free, please call 0113 3200481 or fill in the form here.