An Edge Foundation’s study offers hope for students with ADHD because it definitively links coaching to improved executive functioning. And improved executive functioning means more success in school.

ADHD has long been associated with poor grades, poor reading and math test scores, and being held back. But despite billions of dollars spent on special education programs, the number of ADHD students dropping out of high school and college is alarming. Students with ADHD are vulnerable because ADHD impacts the portion of the brain that regulates what  is known as  executive functioning. ADHD students have executive function deficits in attention, planning and organization, prioritization, impulse control, memory, time management, and higher-order conceptual thinking.

Two-Year Research Project Background

Because the Edge Foundation is committed to evidence-based practices, we engaged in a two year, $1M study to research the effects of personal coaching on the lives and academic success of college students with ADHD. This is the largest and longest such study ever conducted, and was the first to provide quantitative data on the effects of ADHD Coaching in this population and was completed in August 2010.

A select Wayne State University research team from the College of Education’s Center for Self-Determination and Transition conducted a three-phased, two-year project to measure the effectiveness of the Edge coaching strategies on the academic, professional, and social achievements of students with ADHD in college and university settings.*  The 24-month project had three key phases:

  • Phase One: Preparation (June-December 2008)
  • Phase Two: Pilot Study (January-July 2009)
  • Phase Three: Field Test (August 2009-June 2010)

The final phase of the project was a controlled study with randomly-selected experimental and control groups, specifically designed data collection instruments and protocols, and use of standard scientific statistical methodologies.

Study Results

ADHD students who participated in Edge coaching sessions demonstrated statistically significant, higher executive functioning than ADHD students who did not receive coaching. According to the study, “The magnitude of the effect size for self regulation was more than double the typical educational intervention, and executive functioning was quadruple. Findings with effect sizes that large are rare.”

Edge Foundation’s research demonstrated that these students significantly benefit from receiving coaching using the Edge model. Students with learning challenges due to ADHD, dyslexia and adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) who participated in Edge coaching sessions demonstrated statistically significant, higher executive functioning than students with similar challenges who did not receive coaching.

  • Students who received Edge coaching showed substantial gains in their overall approach to learning.
  • The study showed that students, who received Edge coaching services showed significant improvement in their ability to organize, direct and manage cognitive activities, emotional responses and overt behaviors.
  • They were able to formulate goals more realistically and consistently work toward achieving them, manage their time more effectively, and stick with tasks even when they found them challenging.
  • It also enhanced their sense of well being and resulted in more positive emotional states, which have been linked by research to more effective learning.

Download the research report executive summary.

“This study demonstrated that the Edge coaching model was highly effective in helping students improve executive functioning and related skills as measured by the Learning and Study Strategies Inventory. The magnitude of the effect size for self-regulation was more than double the typical educational intervention, and executive functioning was quadruple. Findings with effect sizes that large are rare.”