The study is set in Mohawk College, Ontario, Canada. The college offers programs of varying lengths, ranging from certificate courses to four-year degree programs. The study focuses on first-year students, entering in fall of 2015.
In total, 4,715 students were randomly assigned to one of three groups: 1,614 were assigned to group advising, 1,524 were assigned to one-on-one advising, and 1,577 were assigned to a business-as-usual comparison condition. Just under half (49%) of the students were female and about one-quarter were 18 years old or younger, while about half were between 19-22 years old. Race, ethnicity, and financial status were not reported.
Six weeks before the start of fall classes, students in both treatment conditions received an email with information similar to the business-as-usual comparison condition. These emails mentioned advisers and services available, provided advising materials, and encouraged students to meet with their adviser. In the group advising condition, the email also strongly encouraged students to participate in an introductory group advising session within the six-week period before the start of classes. In the one-on-one advising condition, the email strongly encouraged students to participate in a one-on-one advising appointment prior to the start of classes. In both intervention groups, students who did not participate in the offered session/appointment were sent the email a second and third time, followed by a phone call from a student leader. Students who attended the advising sessions were given advising materials, a tip sheet for student success, a checklist of items to complete before the first day of classes, and copies of admissions information previously sent from the college.
Students in the business-as-usual comparison group received the same initial email as students in other groups, but while the email informed students about advising resources that would be available after the start of classes, the email did not encourage students to sign up for pre-matriculation advising.
Support for implementation
The research team coordinated the advising sessions, and sessions were all facilitated in a single location on campus.