Elevating Higher Education: How Coaching Transforms Teaching

Published on November 8, 2023

In today’s rapidly evolving educational landscape, the concept of effective teaching is at the forefront of our minds. Traditional teaching methods seem to be losing their edge, leaving us pondering about which qualities are essential for educators in the 21st century. As we navigate these changes, we are conscious that the role is transforming into something far more dynamic than transmitting information. Educators are becoming ‘facilitator of learning’, and coaching plays a pivotal role in this transformative process. Join us as we explore the evolving nature of the educators’ roles and how coaching can transform teaching in higher education.

In recent decades, the spotlight has shifted towards active learning, placing students at the heart of the learning process. But what does this mean in practice? Essentially, it signifies a move from rote memorisation and uncritical rule-following, to a new reality which empowers students to become active participants in their own learning journey and foster a sense of responsibility and critical thinking skills that extend beyond the classroom. This educational paradigm is firmly rooted in constructivism and the idea of meaningful learning. The constructivist school of thought recognises that, as its named indicates, knowledge is constructed through a process that includes reflection, analysis, review, selection, transformation, and the restructuring of ideas to meaningfully build knowledge.

Are We Ready as Educators?

While we might all agree that the shift towards student-centred learning has been a widely accepted and welcomed pedagogy, we cannot deny that it raises a crucial question: how do we navigate through the changes to reach our educational destination? How can we foster the development of key competencies – comprising knowledge, abilities, skills, and attitudes – and empower students to take responsibility for their own learning journeys? After all, many educators, as much as they care for their students and their learning outcomes, were not trained with this model in mind. This is where the professional development of teachers and teaching innovation becomes paramount and wields the most significant impact on student outcomes.

Coaching: the New Buzzword?

One methodology that is showing positive potential in education is ‘Coaching’. It is a buzzword that has been making an impact in a series of domains such as psychology, sports, business, and executive training for quite a long time now. However, for many years, its role in education was a bit unclear as the term was confused with others such as mentoring, consulting, tutoring, etc. Despite this, over the past decades, coaching has started to find its place in education, proving itself to be a strong and effective tool in educational settings, holding immense potential for higher education.

What Is Coaching? And How Does It Benefit Higher Education?

You may have a vague idea of coaching as a technique that seeks to motivate individuals to achieve their goals. While that is partially true, coaching is much more than that. One of the key definitions of coaching was provided by Sir John Whitmore who stated that coaching is characterised by “unlocking a person’s potential to maximise their own performance. It is helping them to learn rather than teaching them – a facilitation approach” (1992, p3). By this definition, we can see how well coaching aligns with the new educational framework where teachers become facilitators in a student-centred environment. We can say that coaching is thought-provoking, operating on the belief that the coachee possesses inner potential, innate creativity, and the ability to reach conclusions and make informed decisions. Coaching is more than asking lots of questions; it involves using active listening and inquiry, providing appropriate challenges, and supporting when and where needed.

As it seems, coaching represents a valuable skill for educators, particularly in higher education, where students find themselves at a level of maturity that demands autonomy and resourcefulness. They are preparing to grapple with the uncertainties, complexities, and challenges of the 21st-century labour market and society at large. Applying coaching techniques to teaching can have a profound impact on students and their personal, academic, and professional development, and can even support emotional development, a key aspect in student success not covered by formal curricula.

Becoming Learning Facilitators

One key aspect of coaching is not to provide students with ready-made answers but rather to guide them in discovering their own solutions which allows for problem-solving skills to flourish. Coaching can improve key transversal skills such a time-management, organisational and planning skills, and foster autonomy and resilience. It can also help students reflect on and understand their strengths and weaknesses, providing opportunities for growth and self-sufficiency.

If you’re eager to learn more about how coaching skills can positively impact student development and learning outcomes and aspire to elevate your teaching practice through innovative approaches, or are striving for teaching excellence, look no further:

At KnE Learn, we’ve got you covered! Our “Key Principles of Coaching for Educators” online course is purposefully designed to meet your needs. Discover the course details and embark on a journey to transform your teaching and empower your students.

Let’s make a difference together!

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Key Principles of Coaching for Educators
  • language English
  • hand Expert-Led - Online
  • Course Duration: 2 Hours
  • Course Dates: Upon Request