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Embedding coaching in course design

There is a lot of evidence of the benefits of coaching for increasing motivation, self-awareness and performance. Start with the overview of using coaching for learning to get a feel for the sort of things you can do. Consider also the potential barriers to coaching


If you are part of a course team and are interested in how to embed coaching more systematically into your courses, there are a number of ways that you can do this. 


Peer coaching of students by students

As an alternative (or in addition) to staff coaching students, introducing peer coaching of students by students can be very beneficial. This can be done across levels (for example, Level 5 or 6 coaching Level 4) or within a level cohort. Peer coaching has the benefit of students experiencing both being coached and coaching, allowing them to develop new and valuable transferable skills, which enhance their employability. It can also help build support networks among students, both within and across level boundaries, which can extend beyond the initial context in which they were established. Using the Triad model is very effective for peer coaching. 


Initiating a peer coaching process

Before students can be effective in the peer coaching, they need to have a basic understanding of what coaching is and why it is valuable. A useful way to provide this is by demonstration: allowing students to see the difference between a guided or mentored conversation, where help and advice are offered, and a coaching conversation, where the coachee is encouraged to find the solution for themselves. We have video resources to help you do this. It is helpful is students are able to practice coaching in triads within a class.


It can be helpful to provide guidance on the scope of the issues that should be covered in peer coaching. In the courses we have worked with, where peer coaching has been used successfully, the students have been given clear guidance on the specific issues to coach. So, for example, students have been asked to coach each other on their placement learning outcomes or on their assessment. Providing something specific will give them a starting point and focus the coaching on academic issues.


As participation is critical to the success of the peer coaching triads, it can also be helpful to embed the peer coaching within the assessment for the course, for example, by asking students to reflect on the process as part of their assessment. This can ensure all students take part, while still preserving privacy within the coaching conversation itself.


Building group cohesion

Coaching is an inherently supportive process. It requires rapport between the coach and coachee and encourages greater self awareness and awareness of others. As such peer coaching is an excellent activity to use to help develop cohesion in a group and an ethos of mutual support. Many of the students we have worked with, who undertook peer coaching on one module, later transferred this to other modules of their own volition. They found the process to be a useful way to work together and support one another and so extended its use beyond that originally envisaged. Peer coaching can therefore be a useful first step to developing a supportive network around your course.


Creating a coaching module

If you are interested in really embedding coaching into your course, you could consider introducing a coaching-focused module. This is one of the suggestions of our student ambassadors and is an excellent way to ensure all student develop core coaching skills. Ideally such a module should be included early in the programme so that they can reap the benefits for the whole of their studies. 


Find out more about our coaching-focused module Personalised Curriculum Creation through Coaching. Make use of our free to use open educational resources on coaching and related areas.


Embedding coaching within Personal Development Planning

Another way to introduce coaching is to make it a core element of your Personal Development Planning (PDP) strand. This was the approach taken on the BA (Hons) Sport Business Management degree. Find out what they did and what happened here


Where to go from here

You will need to develop coaching skill within your course team. Our plan for staff development training workshops may be useful to support this. Ideally you should ensure that suitable support for coaches is also in place. 


You can find out more about the different tools and techniques that you can use in coaching and about the way that you can use technology to support coaching


Our staff guide provides a useful overview of the benefits of coaching and the characteristics of a coaching conversation. 

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