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Title: Essays on education
Author: Chande, Raj Shishir
ISNI:       0000 0004 6056 7471
Awarding Body: University of Bristol
Current Institution: University of Bristol
Date of Award: 2016
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The influence of parent engagement on a child's education appears to be a rare area of consensus in the sector. However, there is comparatively little agreement on exactly what parent engagement means, or how it can be encouraged among families where it is relatively sporadic. These difficulties are especially prevalent in secondary schools. In response, this thesis presents a series of experiments which aimed to improve pupils' grades by providing parents with timely and actionable information 'on their child's schooling. Chapter 1 reviews previous research on the influence of parents on their child's human capital. Chapter 2 presents an experiment where parents were texted conversation prompts related to their child's science classes for one month. These texts increased home conversations about science for all pupils, but only improved grades for the previously highest attaining pupils. Chapter 3 presents an experiment where parents were texted notification of an upcoming maths test and a request that they encourage their child to study. The intervention improved attainment for the previously lowest attaining pupils and surveys revealed parent and pupil demand for it to be repeated. These experiments were all conducted in the south east of England, were short in duration and their outcome measures were not high stakes or standardised tests. To establish the external validity of their findings, chapter 4 describes an experiment which tested these interventions and others as a bundle in a year-long experiment with a nationally representative sample of secondary schools and standardised tests as outcome measures. No statistically significant effects were found, though these null findings could be attributable to weak implementation of the intervention. Further work is required to develop the insights from parent information experiments into an implementable approach schools can use. Chapter 5's experiment used a similar modality but in a different context. Adult learners attending numeracy and literacy classes were texted weekly messages of encouragement which reduced dropout rates by 30%. In chapter 6, I attempt to elicit the mechanisms driving the treatment effects found in chapters 2 and 3 using causal mediation analysis of pupil survey data. The contribution of this thesis is to add to the growing literature showing that timely and actionable messages informed by findings from behavioural science can improve educational outcomes at a trivial cost.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available