How Coaching Impacts
The Academic Functioning of
University Students with LD and/or ADHD
A Study conducted at The Academic Success Program
for Students with LD/ADHD
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
www.unc.edu/asp
AHEAD 2011, Seattle, WA
Kristen Rademacher, M.Ed, CPCC
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
[email protected]
David R. Parker, Ph.D. (Research Consultant)
CRG, Inc.
[email protected]
Research Team




Dr. Theresa E. Laurie Maitland, CPCC, Principal Investigator
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill,
[email protected]
Erica L. Richman, MSW, Social Work Doctoral student, Research
Coordinator
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Kristen Rademacher, M.Ed, CPCC, Research Assistant
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
[email protected]
Dr. David Parker, Research Consultant
Children’s Resource Group (CRG), Indianapolis, IN
[email protected]
Literature Review
What do we know about college students
with LD/ADHD?

Largest and fastest growing group of disabled students on
college campuses
Harbour, 2004; NCES, 2000; Henderson, 2001

Take longer to complete degree than non-disabled peers and
the rate of sustained enrollment remains low
Jorgenson et al., 2003; Newman 2005; Wagner, Newman, Cameto,
Garza, & Levine, 2005

Graduate at a lower rate than non-disabled peers
 64% non disabled, 53% disabled (all types)
NCES, 2003; Wagner et al., 2005

May graduate at a lower rate than peers with other disabling
conditions
 13.1% LD/ADHD versus 24.8% other disabling conditions
(after 4 years)
Beginning Postsecondary Longitudinal Study Second Follow up, 2001
What are the possible reasons for their
performance problems?

Academic skill weaknesses

Lower GPAs, more likely to be on probation
DePaul et al., 2009; Gerber, 1998; Heiligenstein et al., 1999; Rabiner et al., 2008

Underdeveloped self-determination skills

“A combination of skills, knowledge and beliefs that enable a person
to engage in goal-directed, self-regulated, autonomous behavior”
Field et al., 1998

Underdeveloped executive functioning skills

“An umbrella construct reflecting self-regulatory functions that
organize, direct, and manage other cognitive activities, emotional
responses and behavior”
Biederman et al., 2004; Gioia, Isquith, & Guy, 2001

Coexisting psychological and/or psychiatric issues

Can impact their attitudes, reactions, coping skills and social
integration
Barkley et al., 2007; DaDeppo, 2009; Hoy et al., 1997
Coaching: An emerging intervention model

Coaching : a popular intervention model for individuals with
ADHD
Hallowell & Ratey,1994; Jaska & Ratey,1999; Quinn et al., 2000

Proliferation of opinion articles, books, and case reports , but
limited research
Points out the lack of any research to evaluate the impact of
coaching
 Challenged the field to become rigorous about empirical studies

Goldstein, 2005
What are we learning about the impact of
coaching on students with ADHD?

Coaching appears to improve students’ learning and
study skills
Field et al., 2010; Parker et al., 2011; Reaser, 2008; Swartz et al., 2005;
Zwart & Kallemeyn , 2001

Coaching appears to improve students’ self-regulation
skills
Field et al., 2010; Parker et al., 2011; Swartz et al., 2005
What are we learning about the impact of
coaching on students ADHD?




Coaching appears to improve students’ self -awareness
Coaching appears to improve students academic life
 improvements in goal setting and goal attainment
Coaching appears to improve students’ overall wellbeing
Coaching has not yet been shown to have a direct impact
on students’ GPA
Field et al., 2010; Parker & Boutelle, 2009; Reaser, 2008
What are we learning about the impact of
coaching on other populations?

Coaching has a statistically significant impact on retention
and graduation rates of 1st year students
Bettinger & Baker, 2011

Coaching may significantly improve the functioning of
adults with ADHD
Kubik, 2010
Coaching Definition for UNC-CH
A creative, action-oriented partnership based on model created by
Whitworth et. al. (2007) in which students:
 Set goals in any area of life in which the student desires change
(i.e. academics, balance between study and recreation)
 Work with their coach to develop systems and structures to reach
these goals
 Design the format of their coaching sessions (in-person,
phone/email check-ins, etc.)
 Agree to be held accountable for commitments made during
sessions
 Deepen their learning about themselves – including their values
and ambitions – which helps to define and refine future goals
UNC-CH Website: http://www.unc.edu/asp/
Background of UNC Coaches

Both coaches have comparable types/amount of
coaching training
 Theresa
Maitland, CPCC and Kristen Rademacher, CPCC
were trained and certified through The Coaches Training
Institute. http://www.thecoaches.com/coach-training/
 116
hours of training followed by 6 month certification
program requiring successful completion of written and oral
competency exams


Theresa earned her certification in 2003
Kristen earned her certification in 2007
Methodology
Methodology: Research Questions
1. Does coaching increase participants’ levels of selfdetermination?
2. Does coaching improve participants’ executive
functioning skills?
3. Does coaching improve participants’ overall
academic skills?
4. From students’ perspective, what are the key
benefits and limitations of coaching?
Methodology: Procedures

Eligible participants:
 Total
number of potential participants = 354
 All students with documented LD and/or ADHD who are
registered at the ASP and were interested in coaching
 Willing to be in either Treatment Group of Control
Group
 Treatment group willing to commit to at least 16 weekly
sessions of coaching over fall and spring semesters
 Both groups willing to take 3 surveys at the start of fall
semester and again at end of spring semester
Methodology: Procedures (cont’d)



Recruitment ran for first 2 weeks of fall semester
 All ASP students received 2 personal emails
 Flyers describing the study were posted in the ASP office
 ASP coaches informed students of study during office
visits
Incentives: coupons for free coffee, a gift card to UNC
Student Stores and entry into a drawing for Student Stores
merchandise
Before receiving coaching, each treatment participant took
3 pre-intervention surveys (2 web-based surveys and 1
paper/pencil survey; 45 minutes total time)
Methodology: Procedures (cont’d)

Treatment participants received 16 - 20 coaching sessions
throughout Fall 2010 and Spring 2011 semesters

After at least 16 total coaching sessions, treatment
participants took the 3 post-intervention surveys


Control Group Participants did not receive coaching, but
took all 3 surveys at start of fall semester and again at end
of spring semester
Project Manger conducted qualitative interviews with
purposive sample of 6 participants during Week 9.
Methodology: Participants
Demographics
Total Participants Recruited
Total Participants Completed
N= 26
N= 24
Total Treatment Group Recruited
Total Treatment Group Completed
N = 18
N = 16 * One student did not complete a survey
Total Control Group Recruited
Total Control Group Completed
N=8
N = 8 * One student did not complete a survey
Gender
12 male
8 Treatment
4 Control
12 female
8 Treatment
4 Control
18 Caucasian
12 Treatment
6 Control
3 Af. Am
All Treatment
2 Asian
1 Treatment
Race
1 Unknown
1 Control
Control
Methodology: Participants (cont’d)
Demographics
University Status
Undergraduates
10 Treatment
7 Control
Graduates
5 Treatment
1 Control
Post Baccalaureate
1Treatment
ADHD (no LD)
12 Treatment
3 Control
ADHD (with LD)
2 Treatment
3 Control
LD
2 Treatment
2 Control
* Additional Co-morbid
Diagnoses
Anxiety
1 Treatment
1 Control
Anxiety and Depression
2 Treatment
*Treatment Group: 50%
*Control Group: 25%
*All Participants: 38%
Adjustment Disorder
Anxiety/Depression
1Treatment
Depression
1 Treatment
Bipolar
1 Treatment
Asperger’s Syndrome
Anxiety/Depression
2 Treatment
Disability (ADHD, LD or
Both)
1 Control
Methodology: Study Participants’
Coaching Goals
1.
Improve in approach to academics
All students wanted to stay on top of daily and long- term
work, plan more regularly and follow plans, become more
consistent and active learners, improve work quality and
grades.
2.
Improve overall life balance and well-being
Most students wanted to balance social life with academics,
make time for exercise, sleep, healthier eating and
recreation and pursuing talents/interests.
3.
Be more organized with possessions and space
A number of students wanted to improve how well they
kept order in their environments and kept track of
possessions.
Methodology: Study Participants’
Coaching Goals (cont’d)
4.
Improve thinking skills
Several students set goals to become more intentional and
reflective to think critically before
completing a task or making a decision.
5.
Prepare for the future
Several students set goals to identify possible careers or next
steps for life after college.
Intervention
Intervention

Structure of Coaching Sessions
 Student
met with coach for initial 60 minute
“intake” session.
 Focus of meeting:
 Student set specific semester goals
 Coach asked student to reflect on strengths,
values, passions
 Coach and student “designed their alliance”
Intervention (cont’d)

Student met with coach weekly for 30 minute
sessions (face-to-face or phone)
 Student
and coach reviewed progress on goals
 Coach guided students to reflect on both their
progress and setbacks within the context of their
strengths, values and passions
 Coach also guided students to deepen their
understanding of their disability as they reflected
on their goals
 Student set goals for following week
Measures
Quantitative Measures
Pre- and Post-Intervention Surveys









Self-Determination Student Scale (S-DSS)
Hoffman, Field & Sawilowsky, 2004
92 item yes or no internet-based, self-report survey measuring self determination
Higher scores indicate greater self-determination
Behavior Rating Inventory of Executive Function – Adult Version (BRIEF-A)
Roth, Isquith & Gioia, 2005
75 item self-report survey measuring executive functioning
Lower scores indicate higher level of executive functioning
Learning and Study Strategies Inventory (LASSI)
Weinstein, Palmer & Shulte, 2002
80 item self-report survey measuring learning and study strategies
Higher scores indicate higher level of skill
Qualitative Measures

Purposive sample
6
students (3 per coach)
 Balance of characteristics (undergrad/grad, gender,
race/ethnicity, GPA)

Individual Semi-Structured Interview
1
hour, with Project Manager
 13 prompts generated by team
 Audio-recorded and transcribed
Qualitative Measures (cont’d)

Analysis
Hand-coding by Research Consultant to generate initial set
of codes
 Initial inter-rater reliability check between Research
Consultant and Project Manager
 Refinement of codebook, 2nd inter-rater reliability check
 Final refinement of emergent themes in consultation with the
research team coaches

Results
Research Question 1:
Impact on Self-Determination

Quantitative Results: S-DSS
 Scores
 Mean
pre-intervention score (Treatment): 67
 Mean post-intervention score (Treatment): 72
 Mean
pre-test score (Control): 72
 Mean post-test score (Control): 75
S-DDS (Hoffman, Field & Sawilowsky, 2004)
Pre- and Post- S-DSS Total Scores for
Treatment Group
100
90
80
70
60
Pretest
50
Posttest
40
30
20
10
0
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
Pre- and Post- S-DSS Total Scores for
Control Group
100
90
80
70
60
Pretest
50
Posttest
40
30
20
10
0
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
Results of S-DSS Total Scores: Coaching
started to close the gap between groups
Pre-test:
Medium gap
d = .51
Post-test:
Smaller gap
d = .41
Research Question 1/Qualitative
Impact on Self-Determination





Promoted students’ self-awareness (44)
Promoted students’ self-esteem (24)
Helped students work toward goals more
effectively (21)
Helped students establish goals (18)
Encouraged students to stop and reflect (6)
Research Question 1/Qualitative
Impact on Self-Determination

“Having Kristen really helps me have manageable goals. Whereas in the past, I
probably have taken on chunks and didn’t realize... It would just be too much in
the end and I would kind of break down.”
- DP

“And that the goals that I set need to be realistic…If I never went to class and I
skipped every class last semester, and I said, ‘Well, I’m going to go to every class
next semester,’ that’s just silly. There’s no way that’s going to happen. It’s much
more productive and much more effective and efficient to set a more reasonable
goal - go to half of your classes.”
- AD

“[Coaching] helped me see, because, in the end of every week I’ve been able
to go, ‘This is what worked this week; this is what didn’t work this week; this
is where I need to improve; this is where I’m doing okay.’”
- JH
Research Question 2:
Impact on Executive Functioning Skills

Quantitative Results: BRIEF-A
 GEC
(Global Executive Composite) Scores
 Mean
pre-intervention score (Treatment): 83
 Mean post-intervention score (Treatment): 78
 Mean
pre-test score (Control): 72
 Mean post-test score (Control): 66
**Lower scores indicate greater executive functioning skills**
BRIEF-A (Roth, Isquith & Gioia, 2005)
Pre- and Post BRIEF-A GEC* Scores for
Treatment Group
120
100
80
Pretest
60
Posttest
40
20
Lower scores indicate greater
executive functioning skills
0
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
* Global Executive Composite
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
Pre- and Post BRIEF-A GEC Scores for Control
Group
120
100
80
Pretest
60
Posttest
40
Lower scores indicate greater
executive functioning skills
20
0
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
Research Question 2/Qualitative
Impact on Executive Functioning Skills






Enhanced students’ use of self-talk (24)
Helped student regulate their emotions (21)
Helped students problem solve (9)
Helped students plan (8)
Helped students create a more balanced life (7)
Helped students initiate/persist at tasks (3)
Research Question 2/Qualitative
Impact on Executive Functioning Skills

“But now when I’m about to open a game or whatever, a goof-off page, it dawns on
me that I’m making a conscious decision not to do my work and this feels a little
uncomfortable. It’s not as easy as before, when I’d just blame it on, ‘Oh, I get really
distracted.’ Now it’s like, ‘I have to take accountability for it.’ And it’s a big
difference than what it was before.”
- LG

“I’m more willing to - rather than just give up on something - to take a deep
breath and calm myself down and look at how I am going to approach it.”
- AD

“I think I see a strength in being able to do that analytical, reflective type of thing.
Being able to just take the parts into pieces and make very specific plans or goals or
whatever…. And I think coaching has helped improve that particular skill.”
- JH
Research Question 3: Impact on Academic
Functioning
Pre- and Post- LASSI Cluster Scores



Skill (Information Processing, Selecting Main Idea, & Test
Strategies)
Will (Attitude, Motivation, & Anxiety)
Self Regulation (Self-testing, Study Aids, Time Management &
Concentration)
Treatment Group
Pretest
Posttest
Control Group
Pretest
Posttest
Skill: 32
Skill: 45
Skill: 36
Skill: 54
Will: 29
Will: 36
Will: 43
Will: 44
Self Regulation: 23
Self Regulation: 28
Self Regulation: 35
Self Regulation: 39
LASSI (Weinstein, Palmer & Shulte, 2002)
Pre- and Post- LASSI
Cluster Scores
Treatment Group
60
50
Control Group
Pretest
40
30
Control Group
Posttest
20
Control Group
10
0
Skill
Will
Self
Regulation
Pre- and Post- LASSI Scale Scores (Will
Cluster)
70
60
Treatment Group
Pretest
50
40
Treatment Group
Posttest
30
20
10
0
Motivation
Anxiety
Treatment Group
Pretest
Control Group
Posttest
Pretest
Posttest
Motivation: 24
Motivation: 31
Motivation: 58
Motivation: 61
Anxiety: 35
Anxiety: 46
Anxiety: 33
Anxiety: 46
Pre- and Post- LASSI Scale Scores (SelfRegulation)
35
30
Control Group
(SelfRegulation)
Pretest
25
20
Control Group
(SelfRegulation)
Posttest
15
10
5
0
Time Mgt
Treatment Group
Pretest
Posttest
Concentration
Control Group
Pretest
Posttest
Time Mgt: 15
Time Mgt: 24
Time Mgt: 35
Time Mgt: 34
Concentration: 16
Concentration: 24
Concentration: 22
Concentration: 33
Research Question 3/Qualitative
Overall Academic Skills






Helped students self-advocate (9)
Led to better grades (6)
Helped students write papers (3)
Helped students persist with college/attend full-time
(2)
Helped students study better (1)
Helped students turn in assignments on time (1)
Research Question 3:
Overall Academic Skills (cont’d)

“Like at home, my husband; I often take on tasks because I feel like I’ve got to be the
wife. So it’s complicated with school and other things. I take things on and then I’m
mad later. So a lot of times now I look at the things and I’ll say, ‘Is this worth my time?’
or ‘Is there something else I need to be doing?’ or ‘Can I ask him for help?’”
- DP

“[Coaching] had a tremendous impact [on my grades]. I went from below a 2.0
student who was on the verge of dropping out to somebody who has totally
acceptable grades, G.P.A., social life, academic and extracurricular involvement.”
- JP

“I think coaching is very much about taking the big picture and putting it into small,
workable, manageable things, which is kind of how you would approach a big
project. For an example, for a paper, saying, ‘I’m going to do this part and then I’m
going to do this part and then I’m going to do this part.’”
- JH
Research Question 4a:
Benefits of Coaching (Students’ Perspective)










Develop new skills/employ them more effectively (35)
Created routine time to stop/focus on my goals (12)
Held me accountable (11)
Provided emotional support/reassurance (9)
Exposed me to different perspectives (8)
Helped me access other services/professionals (4)
Provided non-judgmental listening (3)
A flexible service (3)
Helped me develop healthier habits (2)
Helped me access accommodations (1)
Research Question 4a:
Benefits of Coaching (Students’ Perspective)

“You know, I’ve had some improvement with that as a result of being more
organized and making little steps to reach a larger goal.”
- JH


“I’d say the biggest advantage is that it keeps me accountable, because I know
that we make certain goals together each week. And when I go the next week,
I am going to be held accountable for whatever goals we had created together
the week before.”
- LG
“Well, it’s a place where I can discuss things but it’s not a mirror. It’s not just, ‘Here,
look at yourself.’ It’s maybe a compassionate mirror or it’s another person who has
thoughts and feelings but is completely on my side or doesn’t have an agenda.”
- AD
Research Question 4b:
Limitations of Coaching (Students’ Perspective)





Hold me even more accountable (5)
Provide more than 30 minutes a week (2)
Locate the office more centrally (1)
Help me gain access to peer’s experiences (1)
Only focused on college (would like to focus on life
after college, too) (1)
Research Question 4b:
Limitations of Coaching (Students’ Perspective)


“And also, there being a more concrete element [in coaching]. Because so
far, when I make the so-called promises, they were very informal. I rarely
wrote them down, I wasn’t really required to. But all the stuff would slip my
mind and I would not actually do them. So maybe having some sort of a
formal element where, at every session, you fill out a post-it that consists of
three items or something so that I can carry around and incorporate into my
life would be helpful.”
- JP
“I think I would want to say the meetings will be longer. Maybe an hour. I don’t
know if reading should be twice a week. Because I don’t think that…you want
students to want to come. If it becomes something like a burden, then that is a
problem. But I think an hour wouldn’t hurt. I think it was more effective for me.”
- AD
Book Title for Coaching’s Impact on You

“When You Do a Little Bit of Thinking, You Can Do the Things
You Didn’t Think You Could.” (BP)

“Coach Leads Student to 4th Quarter Victory” (DP)

“No Day But Today” (JH)

“Going the Extra Mile” (LG)


“Why a Single Is Better than a Home Run” (AD)
“The Day I Found the Door” (JP)
Discussion
Key Findings

Treatment group different than control group
Greater variability in scores on every measure
 Lower pre-test scores on almost every measure
 Notably lower scores for Will and Self-Regulation clusters in
LASSI

 Particularly

Treatment group showed trends to improve in all measures


in Motivation, Concentration and Time-management
Rate of growth often greater than in control group
Anxiety a factor for both groups
Key Findings (cont’d)

Coaching appeared to have greatest impact on SelfDetermination




Coaching narrowed the gap in S-DSS scores between treatment
and control group more than in any other measure
Students reported greatest growth in self-awareness and selfesteem
Coaching appeared to help students make progress toward
their goals
Coaching was popular for those who chose it

More students selected it than not, and very few students dropped
out of study.

Very few limitations reported by students
Post-hoc Power Analysis

Because our results were non-significant we did a
post-hoc power analysis. Given our results, this
analysis told us how many participants we would
need to achieve significant outcomes.
 To
achieve 80% power (the appropriate level) we
would need 112 participants to show a moderate
effect size.
Limitations

Measures were subjective, self-report and not normed for older
students. Some students found questions inappropriate and/or
irrevelant.

2 treatment group students did not have ADHD.

2 students in control group had been coached in the past.





Mixing undergraduate and graduate students may complicate
results.
Post-tests administered during start of final exam period.
Study does not account for other variables (i.e., other interventions
participants may have used, co-morbid conditions).
BRIEF-A survey not available online – a disincentive in recruiting
control-group participants.
Recruitment incentives were small.
Conclusion
Implications


Further research necessary regarding:
 Student perspective of inquiry vs. didactic service
delivery models
 Power of “accountability” in managing ADHD
symptoms
 Long-term impact of coaching, including influence
on GPA and retention.
Service providers may want to consider a targeted
outreach to students with likely self-management
issues
 Use LASSI as a pre-test to identify students with low
Self-Regulation and Will Scores
Implications (cont’d)


Service providers may want to consider impact of
anxiety in students’ overall functioning
Students must be able to understand the differences
between coaching and other traditional services
Next Steps for ASP




Share results of study with campus constituents
Write article for peer-reviewed journal
Continue to offer coaching and evaluate its impact
as part of broader program assessment
Offer group coaching
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How Coaching Impacts The Academic Functioning of University