We are living in turbulent times in Higher Education (HE) with ever increasing reported levels of mental health issues in both students and staff (Grove, 2018; Niblock, 2018; Persson, 2017; Weale, 2018). When we add in the drive to create flexible, student-led learning environments, we often find ourselves in a position of trying to empower learners who are not ready or able to take on responsibility for their learning. I’m sure we can also all agree that effective facilitation of a student-led learning environment requires a completely different skillset than historically favoured didactic teaching methods which is eluded to but not fully explored in the UK Professional Standards Framework (The Higher Education Academy, Guild HE, & Universities UK, 2011).
Given this landscape, we would like to open the debate on whether coaching techniques and approaches could help us to foster more self-aware learners who take responsibility for action in their learning paths.Whitmore (2009) defines coaching as “unlocking people’s potential to maximize their own performance”which surely resonates with us as educators. Coaching has been shown to positively impact psychological factors such as reducing stress and improving wellbeing and resilience (Grover & Furnham, 2016) and increases self-efficacy, performance and satisfaction (Jarvis, 2008). Whilst these are outcomes from more formal coaching practice, wouldn’t it be great if we could enable these outcomes in our teaching too?
There have been numerous studies into coaching services for students (Bettinger & Baker, 2014)and peer coaching (Moore, Westwater-Wood, & Kerry, 2016)which have shown increases in attainment, retention and satisfaction. However there are few, studies which explore coaching as an approach to learning and teaching in HE.
We can draw many parallels between the skills needed for effective coaching and education including being fully ‘present’ and attuned to learners/coachees needs, using open questions, balancing challenge with support and being reflective practitioners. Use of silence is a key skill in coaching (Kimsey-House, Kimsey-House, Sandahl, & Whitworth, 2011)and so the similarities between coaching and education continue(Lees, 2013; Schultz, 2012). In fact, the spectrum of coaching skills (Downey, 2015) maps very well to the facilitation skills documented by Bens (2017)and the effective teaching skills discussed by Scales (2013).
So, does this mean we could we improve our abilities as facilitators of learning and create more independent graduates by using a coaching approach to learning and teaching? Join us for an evening of lively debate and of course plenty of gifs! (https://giphy.com/gifs/foxadhd-cute-dog-fox-mP94uHyKvY1nq)
Bens, I. (2017). Facilitating with ease! : core skills for facilitators, team leaders and members, managers, consultants, and trainers(Fourth edi). Hoboken, New Jersey : John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
Bettinger, E. P., & Baker, R. B. (2014). The Effects of Student Coaching. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 36(1), 3–19.
Downey, M. (2015). Effective Modern Coaching: The Principles and Art of Successful Business Coaching. LID Publishing.
Grove, J. (2018, July 6). Half of UK academics ‘suffer stress-linked mental health problems.’ Times Higher Education (THE). Retrieved from https://www.timeshighereducation.com/news/half-uk-academics-suffer-stress-linked-mental-health-problems
Kimsey-House, H., Kimsey-House, K., Sandahl, P., & Whitworth, L. (2011). Co-Active Coaching: Changing Business, Transforming Lives. Quercus.
Lees, H. (2013, August 22). Silence as a pedagogical tool. Times Higher Education (THE). Retrieved from https://www.timeshighereducation.com/comment/opinion/silence-as-a-pedagogical-tool/2006621.article
Moore, C., Westwater-Wood, S., & Kerry, R. (2016). Academic performance and perception of learning following a peer coaching teaching and assessment strategy. Advances in Health Sciences Education, 21(1), 121–130.
Niblock, S. (2018, July 5). Without investment, student mental health will only get worse. Times Higher Education (THE). Retrieved from https://www.timeshighereducation.com/opinion/without-investment-student-mental-health-will-only-get-worse
Persson, R. S. (2017). Distress or satisfaction? : talent management in higher education worldwide. The International Centre for Innovation in Education (ICIE). Retrieved from http://www.diva-portal.org/smash/record.jsf?pid=diva2%3A1121027&dswid=9522
Scales, P. (2013). Teaching in the lifelong learning sector. (K. Briddon & L. Senior, Eds.) (2nd ed.). Maidenhead : Maidenhead .
Schultz, K. (2012). The Role of Silence in Teaching and Learning. Educational Horizons, 91(2), 22–25.
The Higher Education Academy, Guild HE, & Universities UK. (2011). The UK Professional Standards Framework for teaching and supporting learning in higher education. Retrieved from http://www.heacademy.ac.uk/ukpsf
Weale, S. (2018, June 28). Student mental health must be top priority – universities minister. The Guardian (Education). Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/education/2018/jun/28/student-mental-health-must-be-top-priority-universities-minister
We are a vibrant community of professionals who have an interest in coaching in Higher Education. Our community brings together those with academic, professional services or independent roles to stimulate discussion, share practice, build connections, develop our skills and have fun!
#coachingHE Organising Committee
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