Project Details

A project, completed in 2011, to investigate the impact of persuasive and affective SMS text messages on students’ self-regulated learning strategies while attending an introductory information systems course, with a focus on supporting Māori and Pacific learners. A collaboration of Victoria University of Wellington and Auckland University of Technology.


The main aims of the project were to:

  • investigate whether students' affective learning response can be influenced by an affective mobile learning support system
  • explore the use of SMS technology as a persuasive and affective tool to improve engagement and participation amongst undergraduate students at Victoria University.


The project methodology involved:

  • separating participants into a control group and an experiment group
  • placing Māori and Pacific students in the experiment group as their numbers were low, in order to maintain an acceptable effect size
  • sending the experiment group SMS reminder texts with persuasive and encouraging phrases twice a week (encouraging students to attend lectures, tutorials and workshops and to complete assignments)
  • conducting a pre-survey questionnaire at the beginning of the experiment and a post-survey questionnaire at the end (both surveys used MSLQ as the measuring instrument).


victoria university

Dr Tiong-Thye Goh

Project Leader

Victoria University of Wellington

Dr Boon-Chong Seet

Auckland University of Technology (AUT)
victoria university

Ms Liz Rawhiti

Victoria University of Wellington




$8,790.00 (excl GST)

$8,790.00 Regional Hub Project Fund

Key Findings

The key findings from the project include:

  • The study demonstrated the usefulness and effectiveness of a simple SMS strategy in engaging and stimulating students’ self-regulated learning. It showed that students who received SMS intervention performed better than students who did not receive SMS intervention. Improvement in self-regulated learning has been shown to be positively correlated to higher academic performance.
  • The impacts on students’ academic achievement was very encouraging with improvement in final course grades for students who received SMS intervention. Unlike other intervention programmes targeted at Māori and Pacific students, the project used a validated and theory grounded instrument to measure the learning strategies’ outcomes.
  • The study demonstrated the capability of an SMS intervention for stimulating students’ self-regulated learning through better time management and improved extrinsic and intrinsic goals, cognitive and meta-cognitive strategies and values.
  • The findings of the research identified that several aspects of students’ learning strategies such as Control of Learning Beliefs (CLB), Task Value (TV), Extrinsic Goal Orientation (EGO), Self-Efficacy for Learning and Performance (SELP), Meta-cognitive Self-Regulation (MSR), Organisation (OR), Elaboration (EL), Time and Study Environment Management (TSEM), and Rehearsal (RH) had been improved for the experiment group while the Time and Study Environment Management (TSEM) dimension of MSLQ had been significantly lowered for the control group who received no SMS intervention.
  • The study demonstrated a positive impact of persuasive and affective SMS on students’ learning and suggests that the intervention is able to provide stabilising and stimulating effects on students’ self-regulated learning compared to the control group.
  • Most importantly, the study showed that SMS intervention enables Māori and Pacific students, who historically have a lower performance than the main cohort, to perform better than the main cohort and to a significantly higher level than those Māori and Pacific students who did not receive any SMS intervention.

Key Recommendations

The key recommendations from the project cover areas for practitioners to consider when implementing such a system including:

Adoption of the persuasive and affective SMS strategy | Practitioners should consider the adoption of the persuasive and affective SMS strategy and also adopt the seven principles of persuasive technology for sending SMS messages.

Target high risk students | Practitioners should target the persuasive and affective SMS strategy to high risk students and they should conduct pre- and post-intervention surveys to provide insight to students’ learning strategies.

Impact on other courses | Practitioners should consider the impact on other courses when SMS intervention is applied to a specific course. They need to ascertain that the benefits gained from one course did not compromise other courses.

Students with learning difficulties | Practitioners should ascertain whether such SMS interventions are more effective for students with a specific learning problem.

Use of other social media | With the increasing use of social media such as Facebook and Twitter, practitioners should consider using these tools as a form of intervention similar to SMS intervention and apply the MSLQ to measure the impact.

Enlist parents to send SMS messages | From a culturally responsive perspective, practitioners could enlist parents to send SMS messages. This is more likely to influence the affective and emotional state of the students as well as harnessing the affective communication between students and family.


GLOSSARY | Literacy Glossary

A glossary of terms relevant to teaching literacy.

(PDF, 99 KB, 11-pages).

  • 25 June 2008
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Persuasive and affective SMS text messaging for students’ learning

A research report prepared by Tiong-Thye Goh, Boon Chong Seet and Liz Rawhiti. 

(PDF, 858 KB,25-pages).

  • 9 May 2011
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