Online learning continues to widen in popularity by providing greater access and flexibility in time and location the learning occurs. There is a shift in the profile of a traditional college student. Almost half of the students who are enrolled in online classes are 24 or older and tend to carry increased time constraints due to external factors such as employment and family responsibilities. Student retention remains a concern for institutions. Many students lack the skills necessary to be successful in the online platform. Research reports self-regulation learning skills are essential. Providing reminders for an upcoming assignment may give needed scaffolding. Intervention research is sparse in this domain. This dissertation is written in a three journal article format. Article 1 is a systematic review of the literature focused on the use of auto-reminders or nudges as an intervention in higher education. This review employed systematic criteria to allow rigorous analysis, critique, and synthesis of related literature search. The search strategy focused on auto-reminder interventions in online classes. Keywords were searched in each of the databases (n = 3) ERIC, PsychINFO, and Scopus. Articles (n = 291) were added to Zotero. Three themes emerged. Health (n = 3), procrastination (n = 2), and motivation (n = 4) for a total of 9 articles. Findings reveal that the health field is successful in nudging their patients into better health practices; however, published research in the education field is lacking. Building on findings from Article 1, Article 2 sought to address nudging in the education field. Instructors volunteered to use a nudging app to remind students of upcoming assignments in their courses (n= 158). Enrolled students were invited to download a mobile app. This study attempted to create a profile of students who used the app. Findings reveal that students who used the app were more likely to be Asian and International and had higher scores on college entrance exams. App users had slightly lower prior GPAs, despite having earned significantly more credits in college at the time of the study. Building on Article 2, Article 3 explored the behavioral interaction with app users tapping (n = 443) and not tapping (n = 1102) of push notifications. Findings reveal app users submit more assignments and have higher average assignment grades when they tap the notifications. Assignment weight is generally lower, and there is generally less time between the time the student submitted the assignment and the assignment deadline. When push notifications are not tapped, assignment weight is higher, and there is more time between submission and deadline. More research is needed to determine push notification behavior.



College and Department

David O. McKay School of Education; Instructional Psychology and Technology



Date Submitted


Document Type





self-regulation, nudge, online learning, intervention



Included in

Education Commons