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Coaching and Mentoring: Coaching

What is coaching in education?

What is Coaching in Education? 


A one-to-one conversation focused on the enhancement of learning and development through increasing self-awareness and a sense of personal responsibility, where the coach facilitates the selfdirected learning of the coachee through questioning, active listening, and appropriate challenge in a supportive and encouraging climate. van Nieuwerburgh, 2012, p. 17

  • "Educational coaching aims specifically to improve scholastic performance”
  • “Coaching can benefit individuals by enhancing study skills and guiding them in the setting of personally relevant learning goals. At a cognitive level, it can facilitate increases in well-being, goal striving, resilience and hope. Combined, these can result in enhanced academic performance”.
  • All of these definitions are based on high school studies of coaching.

van Nieuwerburgh and Tong (2013)

What is Coaching in HE

What is Coaching in HE?

  • No definition – emerging field
  • Students-as-coachees must primarily focus on their educational goals, rather than on their aims and ambitions for the rest of their lives (e.g. transforming romantic and family relationships; improving their physical health)… Academic concerns must be their central focus  Wisker, G., Exley, K., Antoniou, M. and Ridley, P. (2008) p26

Case studies

Grant, A. (2003) - coaching for postgraduates in an Australian uni

  • The impact of life coaching on 20 postgraduate ‘mature’ (mean age 35) students
  • over a 10 weekly group sessions
  • Participation in the program was associated with significantly higher levels of goal attainment, along with improvements in metacognitive processing (self-reflection and insight) and mental health (lower depression, stress, and anxiety).
  • First study of this kind

Greene, T. (2004) - Lake Tahoe Community College – coaching for disadvantaged students

  • Struggling students can opt to meet with a coach for two hours per week for a term. The college counsellor meets on a weekly basis with the coach to discuss the student,
  • Academic Coaching model – focus on academic skills, combines a variety of supportive services mentoring, tutoring, advising, and orientation, taking the best intentions from each in creating personalised support.
  • Eventually student is empowered and encouraged to seek out support services available throughout the college
  • The coach is competent in the desired academic subject area
  • Students make “phenomenal strides in their academic achievements as well as in their personal development. They are more confident in themselves, less anxious, and more willing to take ownership of their education.”

Sue-Chan and Latham (2004)- MBA students in Canadian university

  • 30 first semester students enrolled in MBA in a Canadian University.
  • Met twice with external coach, 8 week gap
  • Primarily interested in whether peer coaching, self-coaching is more effective than external coaching.
  • The external coach was seen as more credible and more effective in bringing about performance changes
  • Those who were coached by an external coach exhibited higher team playing behaviour than did those who were coached by peers.

Swartz et al. (2005) Florida State University–coaching for students with ADHD

  • Undergraduates coached for 8 weeks
  • Coaching is a useful complement to academic advising and intensive therapy
  • “College is often the first time students with ADHD have been in an unstructured setting, with no parents or teachers providing boundaries. With little external structure and deficient internal structure, many students with ADHD have difficulty adjusting to college”
  • Points they raise: Are the changes sustainable and generalisable?
  • My point: All students face risks going to university – dropping out, isolation, stress!

Franklin & Doran (2009) – first year students in Australian uni

  • 52 first year university students (mean age 24) from an Australian university
  • Double-blind random control trial
  • Peer or group coaching over 7 weeks
  • This study examined the efficacy of two coaching programmes on independently assessed performance (academic performance).
  • Participants completed self-reports on several measures
  • Relative to the no treatment control group, coaching participants performed 10 per cent better in independently assessed academic performance

Van Zandvoort et al. (2009)- undergraduates in Canadian university

  • Coached five students, for nine, 35-minute, one-on-one sessions
  • Found that obese female university students attributed their adoption of healthier lifestyles and their enhanced selfacceptance to the coaching

Robinson and Gahagan (2010)-First year students University of South Carolina

  • In 2007-8, coached 182 academically deficient students appealing the loss of their financial aid. Of those 182 students, 92 percent (168) improved their GPA and demonstrated academic improvement over one academic year.
  • In 2008–2009 any first-year student after the fall semester whose GPA fell below a 2.0 was required to meet with a coach in the spring semester. Of the 218 freshmen on probation after the fall 2008 semester, 22 opted to meet a second time with the coaches, and 10 attended three sessions.
  • The result yielded 40 percent fewer suspended students than predicted.

Short et al. (2010) – peer coaching of third year undergraduate – University of Bedfordshire

  • Short et al. (2010) found that peer coaching significantly reduced the psychological distress of a group of psychology undergraduate students, compared to a control group, using measures including the General Health Questionnaire as well as a Likert-type survey.
  • 32 undergraduate psychology students
  • Conducted and received five sessions of peer coaching before an examination period.
  • The most common topics covered in coaching sessions were relationships, health and career issues and 67 per cent of the sample found the intervention to be at least moderately effective.

University of Huddersfield Presentation

Writers of the studies

Authors  contact:
Dr Michael Snowden - University of Huddersfield Tel: 01484471837 e-mail:
Ms Natalie Lancer- Birkbeck College Tel: 01923 85 0781 email:

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