How to measure success in ADHD coaching

Recently the study of the coaching method used by Edge Foundation was published in the Journal of Attention Disorders and reviewed by Dr. David Rabiner of Duke University. Rabiner concluded with “results from this study indicate that college students with ADHD experienced coaching to be helpful. This was true even though differences in students’ GPA were not found.” 

One of our readers, Meredith A., wrote us to ask about our views about this review.  “The finding that really puzzled me concerned the no improvement of GPA.  Has your organization found this to be the case?  I am guessing for many college students dealing with ADHD, if coaching brings no improvement to their GPAs, they will be dropping out of college.” We appreciate Meredith’s question and thought the rest of you might also be interested in the response from our Executive Director, Robert Tudisco.

The question Meredith raises regarding GPA is a very good one.  First, if you read the report, it is fairly clear that there was an improvement in GPA for the students who participated in the study.  The reason that the report could not conclusively point to the coaching as the cause was because of two factors.

  1. Due to the number of variables that go into a student’s Grade Point Average, such as the number of courses they are taking, the subjective grading of their professors and the overall level of coursework, one year is not enough time to see a statistically sufficient increase that could be attributed directly to the coaching itself.  In the report the research team indicates that the improvement that was shown was not statistically significant enough to attribute it to the coaching intervention itself.  However, the researchers noted that in order to track the increase in GPA, as attributable to the coaching model, a longer term longitudinal study would have to be conducted.  Edge is now in the process of framing a follow up longitudinal research project and actively raising money to do that.
  2. The coaching model Edge coaches uses addresses the life challenges and struggles students face with ADHD.  Students work on goals they set for themselves that include balancing study time with social lives and working hours. For many students who are on their own for the first time, their goals may or may not directly relate to their grades.  For example, a student might set a goal to get one term paper in on time without stressing it out and waiting until the last minute.  The achievement of this is significant progress for the student that may, but not necessarily, lead to a better grade at the end of the semester.  Over the long run the improvements in GPA based upon the consistent use of the skills developed is more readily seen and able to be attributed to coaching.

ADHD coaching improves skill, will and self regulation

It is for these reasons that the research team chose the Learning and Study Strategies Inventory (LASSI) as an indicator of progress for the study.  The LASSI breaks down performance into three subscales: skill, will and self regulation.  The study results clearly showed that after a year of coaching, the students showed statistical improvement in all three subscales, but by far and away the most improvement was in the area of self regulation.  In this category, the scores of the students more than doubled.

Self regulation is a direct function of executive functioning which is the area in the brain that is affected by ADHD.  In fact, according to the statistician who evaluated the results stated that “the magnitude of the effect size for self regulation was more than double the typical educational intervention, and (the magnitude of the effect size for) executive functioning was quadruple (the typical educational intervention).” This is a significant finding that far exceeded our expectations going in to the study.

Qualitative results demonstrate ADHD coaching impacts students lives

Another thing that is important to look at in the study results is the qualitative results and the interviews of the students.  The qualitative results not only corroborate the quantitative analysis, but more importantly, they explain why the coaching worked for these students from the students own perspectives.  This is a unique window into the coaching relationship as seen from the eyes of the students that it impacted.

If you have a question about how ADHD coaching can help you or teach your student skills to be more effective in school and life, don’t hesitate to ask us in the comments or call 1-888-718-8886.





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  1. educator

    I work with ADHD children in the elementary grades. They show considerable improvement in just 20 hours of tutoring.