The Repository @ St. Cloud State

Open Access Knowledge and Scholarship

Date of Award


Culminating Project Type


Degree Name

Social Work: M.S.W


Social Work


School of Health and Human Services

First Advisor

Sara DeVos

Second Advisor

Consoler Teboh

Third Advisor

Erica Karger-Gatzow

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Keywords and Subject Headings

Belonging, wellness coaching, student retention, student attrition, higher education, higher ed


The purpose of this study was to examine whether not wellness coaching, as implemented at St. Cloud State University, has a measurable impact on participant belonging, as operationalized by the SCSU Belonging Initiative's periodic Sense of Belonging Index (SBI) surveys, which are administered at the beginning of each semester (Davis et al., 2019). Contemporary research indicates that a sense of belonging, or a lack thereof, is a key component in whether or not students continue to enroll on higher education, and is a stronger prediction of retention than GPA (Davis et al., 2019; O'Keeffe, 2013). Moreover, interventions designed to increase belonging may have an impact on reducing achievement gaps between majority and minority groups (Silver Wolf et al., 2017; Walten & Cohen, 2007). Wellness coaching is an intervention that can impact known factors of belonging (ACHA, 2020; Cemalcilar, 2010; Chiu, 2016; Clark et al., 2016; Duran et al., 2020; Krumrei-Mancuso et al., 2013; Masika, 2016; Pearson, 2012; Samura, 2016; Sforzo et al., 2017; Slaten et al., 2016; Swarbrick et al., 2011; Tachinea et al., 2017; Vaccaro, 2015). This study was designed to explore the relationship between belonging and wellness coaching by examining SBI survey scores before and after wellness coaching and determine if the process of using SBI scores was feasible as a method of evaluation. This study concluded that, while not enough data exists to determine the efficacy of wellness coaching in increasing SBI scores, this method of program evaluation is feasible and can be used again in the future as more data becomes available.