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The Triad Model

The Triad Model

A coaching model that has proved to be very successful for peer coaching is the Triad Model. A coaching group comprises three students, who each take a different role in turn: the coach, the coachee and the observer:

  • Coach: In the role of coach the student is responsible for asking probing questions, listening to the coachee, challenging their assumptions and giving feedback, but should not offer solutions or give advice. They may follow a structure, such as the GROW model, or may simply ask questions designed to get the coachee to think through the issues and options and move forward to action. The elements of a coaching conversation apply equally well to student peer coaches.


  • Coachee: In the role of coachee, the student brings the issue to be considered, agrees to be open and honest in addressing the questions put by the coach and is prepared to take action as a result of the coaching conversation.


  • Observer: In the role of observer, the student watches and listens to the coaching conversation and feeds back to the coach and coachee afterwards. The intention is to provide constructive feedback on what has been said, for example, highlighting points that appeared to be particularly effective or less effective. The observer might point out questions that had moved the coachee forward or points where the coach stepped outside the coaching role and offered advice.



Students are placed in groups of three (or select their own) and take on each of the three roles, in turn. The inclusion of an observer has several functions. Firstly, it maintains a perspective that might be lost if students only worked in pairs, allowing each of them to step outside the intensive roles of coach or coachee and experience the conversation more objectively. Secondly, it provides objective feedback on the process for the coach and coachee. Thirdly, it encourages a more reflective coaching process, enabling all participants to learn from the experience.


The Triad model is also very useful in staff development situations, or any other context where people are learning to coach.


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