Coaching in education: the evidence

As noted earlier, there is increasing interest in the use of coaching in education, both for students and staff. For example, the University

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Figure 1. Generic model of self-regulation.

of East London's (UEL) Coaching Psychology programmes include a dedicated optional module on “Coaching in Education” and UEL hosted an international conference on coaching and positive psychology in education in July 2010. However there is currently limited research on evidence-based coaching in the education sector.

Research conducted at the University of Sydney has given preliminary support for the use of evidence-based coaching in educational settings for students and staff. Green, Grant and Rynsaardt (2007) conducted a randomised waitlist control group study of evidence-based life coaching with an adolescent population. Participants were randomly assigned to receive either a ten-week cognitive-behavioural solutionfocused life coaching programme or a waitlist control. They found that the 28 female senior high school students in the coaching programme
experienced a significant increase in levels of cognitive hardiness, hope, and a significant decrease in levels of depression, compared to the waitlist control group.

Furthermore, a pilot study was conducted by Madden, Green and Grant (2011) utilising strengths-based coaching for primary school boys in a within-subject design study. Thirty-eight year five (aged ten to eleven) male students participated in a strengths-based coaching programme as part of their personal development/health programme at an independent, private primary school in Sydney, Australia. Participants were randomly allocated to groups of four or five with each group receiving eight coaching sessions over two school terms. The Youth Values in Action survey was used to highlight participants' character strengths, and the participants were coached in identifying personally meaningful goals, and in being persistent in their goal striving, as well as finding novel ways to use their signature strengths. They also completed a “letter from the future” activity that involved writing about themselves at their best. The strengths-based coaching pilot programme was associated with significant increases in the students' selfreported levels of engagement and hope. The authors concluded that strengths-based coaching programmes may be considered as a potential mental health prevention and promotion intervention in a primary school setting to increase students' wellbeing and may also form an important part of an overall positive education program.

In another study, Grant, Green and Rynsaardt (2010) studied the impact of “developmental coaching” on teachers. A randomised controlled (pre-post) design was used to explore the impact of coaching on goal attainment, workplace wellbeing, resilience, and leadership styles. Participants were forty-four high school teachers who were randomly assigned to either a twenty-week cognitive-behavioural, solution-focused coaching intervention or a waitlist control group. Participants in the coaching group received multi-rater (i.e., 360-degree) feedback on their leadership behaviours and with the help of a qualified coach, attempted to use that feedback to develop a more positive, constructive leadership style. The findings indicated that the coaching participants reported significant increases in goal attainment, wellbeing and resilience, and also significant reduction in stress. Coaching also appeared to enhance dimensions of constructive leadership whilst reducing self-reported aggressive/defensive and passive/defensive styles. These findings suggest that coaching,
as a professional development methodology, has great potential to contribute to the professional development and wellbeing of teachers in an educational setting.

In the UK, van Nieuwerburgh & Tong (2013) undertook a mixed methods study on the impact of training secondary school students to become coaches. Being trained to become a coach and then coaching other students was found to lead to improved attitudes towards learning. Participants reported improved study skills, as well as increased levels of emotional intelligence and better relationships in schools. These findings suggest that training students to become coaches can help to improve their performance in school. Whilst these studies provide promising support for the ongoing use of evidence-based coaching in educational settings, further research is required.

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