Publication Date

Spring 2019

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)




Elaine Y. Chin


Behavioral design, Behavioral economics, Career services, Internships, Professional development engagement, Status quo bias

Subject Areas

Educational leadership


This experimental study explored the effects of a text-message intervention on college sophomore and junior engagement in professional development at San José State University. One goal of the study was to assess whether status quo bias poses a barrier to student preparation for the college-to-work transition. A second goal was to measure the impact of a text-message, behavioral design intervention intended to influence real-time decision-making and overcome status quo bias toward professional development. The treatment intervention had a weak positive, but not significant, effect on student engagement in professional development. Alternative explanations were sought for post-intervention differences in professional development across comparison groups defined by demographics, prior experiences, and perceived and actual control over professional development. Other evidence of status quo bias was revealed in the results that juniors, transfer students, and those with positive pre-intervention perceived control over professional development were significantly more engaged in professional development than their peers. Evidence of capacity barriers to professional development were shown by the results that students working for nondiscretionary income and/or more than 20 hours per week were relatively less engaged than their peers. To prepare all college students for the college-to-work transition, professional development programs must be intentionally designed to overcome status quo bias and barriers to engagement.