Authors: Jessica L. Alzen, Amy Burkhardt, Elena Diaz‑Bilello, Eryn Elder, Alicia Sepulveda, Audrey Blankenheim, Lily Board
Student retention is a key outcome measure for post-secondary education, but data show relatively stagnant retention rates over the past decade. Longstanding interventions such as counseling, academic advising, and mentoring provide crucial student services, but little change in retention rates suggest there is still need for additional student supports. Within the landscape of higher education, academic coaching is a relatively new, yet burgeoning intervention designed to increase student retention and success. Despite rapid growth of the intervention, little empirical work has been done to systematically describe and evaluate such programs. In this study, we provide a rich description of one academic coaching program and use a quasi-experimental design to evaluate the program’s effects on student outcomes. We investigate two research questions: 1) how does academic coaching influence key student outcomes? and 2) to what extent do these effects vary by amount of coaching received? On average, we found that students with prior semester grade point averages from 1.0—2.0 who participate in the academic coaching program earn grade point averages about 0.4 points higher during the coaching semester, are about 10% more likely to enroll in the semester following coaching, and earn about two more credits in the semester following coaching than students who choose not participate in the program. Outcomes varied minimally based on the number of coaching appointments students attended.