Enrollment Methods to Boost Parent Participation in Text-Based Child Learning Programs (Duke University Study)

New research from the Center for Child and Family Policy at Duke University’s Sanford School of Public Policy studied how to increase parent participation in text-based children’s early learning programs and identified “a simple enrollment change that yields big dividends.” Below is a summary and key take-aways.
The new research appears in the Journal of Child and Family Studies. Click here to read the full article.

Researchers know that texting programs can greatly benefit young children’s literacy. Now new research shows that parents’ participation in such programs can be boosted exponentially with one simple tweak: automatic enrollment, combined with the ability to opt out.

Text-Based Programs Are Effective

“In recent years, mounting research evidence has shown texting to be an effective, low-cost, scalable approach for engaging parents in their children’s learning. Some studies suggest text message interventions via tips for parents on how to support their child’s development can put young children’s learning 2-3 months ahead. Yet getting parents to enroll in these beneficial programs can be challenging. With that in mind, researchers designed a study to test strategies for increasing program participation.”

In the study, researchers from Duke, New York University and Brooklyn College compared different enrollment options for the 26-week, text-based early literacy program, Talk to Your Baby. Using a randomized controlled study of 405 mothers in New York City, the researchers tested whether changing the enrollment option from opt-in to opt-out affected take up and completion of the early literacy program.

Enrollment Options: Opt-in or Opt-out?

“Results showed that when automatically enrolled with a voluntary option to opt out, 88.7 percent of study participants stayed in the program for the full 26 weeks. In contrast, only 1 percent of mothers in the control group — who heard about the program through conventional recruitment flyers — voluntarily enrolled in the program. The findings suggest parents’ desire to participate in the program may be high but their ability to follow through is challenging, researchers said.”

CITATION: “The Impact of Default Options for Parent Participation in an Early Language Intervention,” L.A. Gennetian, L.Z Coskun, J.L. Kennedy, et al. Journal of Child and Family Studies (2020).
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10826-020-01838-7

Through Governor’s Early Literacy Foundation’s Caregiver Engagement program, we provide families with resources to help children develop early literacy skills through reading and learning together. These resources and reading tips are sent via text message through partners like ReadyRosie and Ready4K, and parents are given the opportunity to opt-out. Through this program, our goal is to engage families effectively by providing them with tools to help children strengthen early literacy skills.

To invest in our efforts to strengthen early literacy and build lifelong learners in Tennessee