Empowering students to promote independent learning : A project utilising coaching approaches to support learning and personal development.

Dawne Joy Gurbutt, Russell Gurbutt

Abstract


With the publication of the UK White Paper (BIS, 2011) focusing onstudent experience, together with the increase in tuition fees and the changing landscape of higher education, there is an interest within the sector to explore initiatives that enhance the learning process. Coaching, as already used in management and some NHS settings, offers an approach which seeks to enable and empower learners and has the potential to contribute to their personal development, facilitating solution-focused approaches which are transferable to the workplace. Teaching staff in a Higher Education Institution were offered training in coaching techniques and formed a peer support coaching network. They were subsequently encouraged to use coaching skills in a range of student settings. This paper focuses on an evaluation of a teaching and learning initiative that used coaching approaches with two groups of healthcare students (totalling 19) over 2 semesters in the 2012-2013 academic year. The aim was to enhance the student experience in relation to self-motivation, personal development planning and the development ofsolution-focused approaches. The evaluation drew upon student feedback and conversations with staff in the coaching network.The evaluation highlighted the benefits of coaching; student preferences and expectations; new learning experiences of staff and the relevance of coaching approaches in other specific educational settings. The evaluation demonstrated how coaching adds value; providing students with the opportunity to develop workplace skills; and offering staff a solution-focused tool which may be particularly useful when facing change in workplace settings. Importantly it gives participants a creative space to engage with contemporary challenges and educators a 'new' tool to facilitate participation and nurture engagement in a non-directive way.

Keywords


coaching; student experience; empowerment; learning engagement.

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ISSN: 1759-667X