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Enabling Young Individuals to make an Informed Decision about Higher Education: Using Persuasive Technology

Toor, A. (2020). Enabling Young Individuals to make an Informed Decision about Higher Education: Using Persuasive Technology. (Unpublished Doctoral thesis, City, University of London)


Higher Education (HE) is the continuation of study after the age of 18. It occurs after the completion of secondary education, and normally includes undergraduate and postgraduate qualifications. One of the factors which play a vital role in influencing a young individual’s decision to enter higher education is peer pressure from friends. Studies have already proven that young individuals are highly responsive to their peers and what the prevailing norm is when making decisions, hence, the same trait is seen in this context. For some individuals, friends play the role of a barrier, influencing them to not enter HE, whereas for others, friends play the role of a motivator, influencing them to enter HE. In both cases, these individuals are unable to make an informed decision about their future when considering HE. To feel socially accepted, they end up following their friends and making the same decision as them. Existing studies and literature have paid limited attention to overcome friends’ influence when making a decision about HE. The work that exists focuses primarily on minimising family influence only (particularly parents), where extra guidance and information is given to parents so that they encourage their children to enter HE. In addition, technologies are used in a limited way to help individuals make an informed decision about their future. E-portfolios and creation of timelines are being incorporated to encourage students to think about their future, however, they do not target overcoming friends’ influence in particular.To fill this gap, this PhD thesis aims to answer the overall research question: Investigating how technology can be used to facilitate young individuals in making an informed decision about HE. Answering this research question was approached in two parts. In the first part, the problem was unpacked, investigating the factors which impact a young individual’s decision to enter HE, and in the second part, the technology to address the problem was developed. Three studies were conducted for the first part, which helped identify the problem, i.e., peer pressure from friends was playing a vital role for some individuals, impacting their ability to make an informed decision about HE. To address this problem, a persuasive technology, in the form of a persuasive interactive storytelling game was then developed and tested for the second part of this research. The game was developed on an existing smartphone app – Episode –with specific persuasive design models and principles applied. The final study involved testing whether the persuasive game was effective in changing the behaviours of individuals so that they are able to mitigate peer pressure from friends when making the decision about HE. Results from this study hypothesised that the game was effective, as the susceptibility to peer pressure from friends after playing the game had decreased in the participants overall. In total, four studies were conducted to answer the overall research question.By undertaking the work done in this research, four contributions to the field of HCI are made. The main contribution is offering a novel approach to facilitate individuals in making an informed decision about HE by mitigating peer pressure from friends. A persuasive interactive storytelling game was developed to achieve this. The second contribution is the design of the persuasive game. A combination of two existing models were used to inform the design; the Behaviour Wizard and the PSD Model. The third contribution is the proposal of a new persuasive design principle – Reverse Psychology. This design principle is not covered inany existing persuasion strategies or frameworks, and the final study conducted indicated that the concept of Reverse Psychology is effective in persuading young individuals to change their behaviour. The final contribution is an empirical understanding of the barriers and motivators encountered by individuals from a Low Participating Neighbourhood, and the role technology plays in their decision making. This research contributed to existing work on the barriers and motivators to enter HE by addressing the limitations found in the previous studies, hence adding to existing knowledge.

Publication Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: Q Science > QA Mathematics > QA76 Computer software
Departments: School of Science & Technology > School of Science & Technology Doctoral Theses
School of Science & Technology
[thumbnail of Toor_Aamna_Final_Thesis.pdf]
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