How do teachers in vocational and higher education nudge their students? A qualitative study

Robert J. Weijers*, Björn B. de Koning, Ellen Klatter, Fred Paas

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Nudging is a strategy from behavioural economics that subtly influences behaviour by changing the environment. Despite its recent introduction in education, no overview exists of what behavioural interventions are already practiced in education, and how these fit within nudging frameworks. In this qualitative study, we investigated what nudges are used in vocational and higher education by interviewing 33 teachers and 15 students, and conducting 11 classroom observations. We provide an overview of currently used nudges to promote learning behaviour, and distinguish between intuitive, didactic, and planned nudges. Results also show that teachers use nudging intuitively and based on didactic techniques, but are generally unaware of doing so. This provides opportunity for introducing explicit knowledge of nudging to augment teachers’ toolboxes for designing learning environments. Future research can test nudges teachers already use in practice, and further integrate the behavioural and educational perspectives on nudging interventions in an educational context.

Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean Journal of Higher Education
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 26 Feb 2024


  • classroom interventions
  • learning behaviour
  • Nudging
  • qualitative research
  • tertiary education


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