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Introducing Promptable: A BI Venture


April 21, 2017 Michael Sanders and Bibi Groot

Over the last three years, we’ve been working as part of the Adult Skills and Knowledge (ASK) research centre on a series of trials that use text messages to boost attendance and grades at further education colleges. We’ve learned a lot about how to get students to show up to class, and how to help them pass their final exams. In our first study, published here today, we found that a suite of text messages based on four principles increased the rate at which students passed by 8 percentage points.

Effect of encouraging weekly text messages on exam performance and attendance

More recently, we’ve been working on using text messages to students’ nominated supporters to engage those supporters in their lives and learning. The interim results, which we’ve also published today in more detail, show huge promise. Overall, average attendance for students whose supporters received weekly text messages is 4.2 percentage points higher than for those in control. The effect of our intervention is most pronounced for students studying towards their GCSEs (6 percentage points) or taking Maths classes (5.7 percentage points).

Effect of Study Supporter on attendance 

We’re very proud of these findings, but we’ve been thinking a lot about how to take them to scale. If we have an intervention that works, we want to make sure it gets used effectively by as many people as possible. That’s why we’ve built Promptable, which launched this week.

Promptable is our third BI Venture, after Applied and Predictiv, but it is a bit different. It’s a behaviourally informed texting platform that works with colleges to help them send messages to students and their supporters. It’s based on our research but tailored to each college and each class’s curriculum. Compared to running trials, which often involve long manual processes, Promptable will make managing an evidence-based programme of social support quicker, easier, more automatic, and cheaper to implement.  And we’re not done learning, so all of our new findings will be incorporated into the platform as we progress.

Promptable launches today with our first partner – Barnet and Southgate College. Talking about the project, Peter Harrison, Director of Curriculum at the college said:

We’re always on the lookout for innovative ways to encourage students to meet deadlines and attend classes regularly. We came across Promptable, and after speaking to Bibi and the team, we were encouraged to try it out. They understood our needs perfectly and offered us a service that resulted in improving our student success rates and attendance levels.

If you are interested in trying Promptable, or just want to have a conversation, we can be reached here – and your GCSE resit students might be eligible to receive the platform for free as part of a research project funded by the Education Endowment Foundation.

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