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Academic advising: Measuring the effects of “proactive” interventions on student outcomes

With increasing access to postsecondary education and a more diverse student body, delivering advising, and any student‐success initiative for that matter, in a cost‐effective and scalable manner is a priority. One way to reach more students is through group advising, an approach that has seen some positive results in American institutions.3 Furthermore, some colleges and universities in Canada use new programs, including mentoring by upper‐ class students, financial incentives, and self‐authoring workshops, to test and identify feasible and efficient ways to further improve student retention.4 This report evaluates a new experiment that focuses on proactive advising undertaken at Mohawk College. All first‐year students entering Mohawk in Fall 2015 were randomly assigned to two treatment groups and a control group. All students were contacted before the start of the semester via email and informed about the advising services that were available to them. The email reminders were more frequent for the two treatment groups while the control group received only one informational email. The two treatment groups were offered an opportunity to participate in an advising session six weeks prior to start of the semester, but one treatment group was invited to group advising sessions while the other treatment group was invited to one‐to‐one sessions