Researchers provide communication tips to motivate students to use self-tests

Mika Baumeister

Since the beginning of May, students in mbo and higher education are allowed to follow physical education again. The government advises students to voluntarily test themselves before going to their educational location. This advice will most likely continue into the new academic year.

In recent months, researchers from various educational institutions, including Erasmus University, have investigated the willingness to self-test among students. This research showed that the test readiness among students is low. Last Friday, the 'Tweede Kamer' was informed by researchers about the results via this official letter. In this letter, researchers call for clear and appealing communication towards students to motivate them to use self-tests.

Researchers advise on communication towards students

To help the government and social organizations with their communication towards students, researchers from Movez Lab and BRICS Lab of the Erasmus School of Social and Behavioural Sciences have drawn up a communication framework for professionals. These guidelines can help develop campaigns that motivate and enable students to voluntarily get tested before going to their educational location.

Motivating and facilitating communication

The researchers' most important recommendation is to focus communication efforts toward students on them wanting (=motivating communication) and being able (=facilitating communication) to self-test in a responsible manner. “Research shows that communication towards students should be twofold. On the one hand, educational institutions must ensure that students want self-test, for example because their perspectives and feelings are taken into account in the communication. On the other hand, it must also be easy to take a test. When opening a test, they should not see a whole A3 sheet with instructions, but rather a concise explanation with visuals," says Crystal Smit, a behavioural researcher at Movez lab.

5 tips from the researchers

The researchers' advice contains concrete tips for educational institutions to use motivating and facilitating communication. The five most important tips are:

  • Tap into the students' reason for self-testing, such as contributing to a safer future.
  • Emphasise that by self-testing, they are protecting others, such as the vulnerable.
  • Give clear testing instructions using visuals.
  •  Communicate the social norm. Students are more likely to comply if others do the same.
  • Use role models. These can be experts, but young people who demonstrate the correct behaviour themselves are also important

Curious about the rest of the recommendations? Read the complete communication advice of the researchers.

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