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Barriers to introducing coaching for learning

    There are a number of potential barriers to the introduction of coaching to support students.


    Firstly there is the barrier of misunderstanding about what coaching is, particularly in comparison to other more familiar activities in higher education such as tutoring and mentoring. This can be a barrier to acceptance of coaching as such misinformation leads to cynicism about the concept being no more than nomenclature. A strategy to overcome this is to be very clear as to what the university means by coaching and to provide clear definitions of coaching, mentoring and tutoring and raise awareness of the benefits of coaching.


    A second barrier to this is the lack of skilled coaches within the university. There needs to be a commitment to train some internal coaches to provide staff development in coaching. However, the overall aim should be to provide all staff with coaching skills rather than relying on input from a relatively small pool of skilled coaches. Prioritising short coaching courses for teaching staff, which focus on how to use coaching principles when interacting with students would be an effective way of doing this.


    Another potential barrier is resistance from the students themselves, who may initially feel that they are not being “taught” if they are not given the answers. This can be overcome by managing students’ expectations about university education and in particular about the benefits of coaching in helping them to become independent learners. It would also be important to ensure that students were informed as to what to expect from coaching. The introduction of coaching to particular cohorts of students initially may also be helpful here as it will provide first-hand feedback from students as to their experience of coaching.



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