“I’ll be there”: Improving online class attendance with a commitment nudge during COVID-19

Robert J. Weijers*, Lesya Ganushchak, Kim Ouwehand, Björn B. de Koning

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Class attendance is an important predictor of academic success, but students encounter behavioral barriers preventing them from attending. In this experimental study, we investigated a commitment intervention to improve online attendance among university students (n = 973) during the COVID-19 pandemic. In the experimental condition, we asked students to commit to attending all classes and divided this group into students who made the commitment and those who did not commit. The data was analyzed from a psychological perspective (the effect on the individuals who responded positively to the commitment request) and a policy perspective (the effect for all individuals that received the request). No intervention effect was found when comparing students’ attendance in the experimental condition to the control condition, but students who made the commitment attended class more often than non-committing students and those in the control condition. Exploratory analyses revealed that the intervention effect was found in the course with lower attendance, indicating that a ceiling effect possibly prevented the intervention from showing results regarding attendance. However, exploratory analyses also revealed selection bias as a possible explanation for the effects. Additionally, the intervention backfired for non-committing students, reducing their attendance. Future research should focus on different strategies to improve online attendance.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)12-24
Number of pages13
JournalBasic and Applied Social Psychology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 25 Jan 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the Dutch Organization for Scientific Research (NWO) under grant [40.5.18540.132].

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 The Author(s). Published with license by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.


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