Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Academic Coaching

It's common for courses taught at the developmental level to be accompanied by some sort of lab time that allows students to practice skills and get extra help in areas where they struggle. Labs are staffed with tutors who are experts in the fields of reading, writing, grammar and math.

However, anyone who teaches developmental education has probably heard that developmental students need more than just content teaching. They need to be taught "how to be students." Many students who test into developmental courses do so because they never developed the discipline, study habits, and motivation that the most successful students do.

Academic coaching is designed to teach students these "non-academic" skills. The need for these skills is not limited to developmental students alone. Many of these skills are addressed in a first-year seminar-style course designed to help students transition to college. However, one might argue that this method of delivery is at best not enough and at worst ineffective if taught in isolation from the rest of a student's courses.

Academic coaching is presents more of an "alongside" approach. Carol Carter, when interviewed for the Winter 2011 issue of the Journal of Developmental Education by Amy. L. Webberman, says, "Coaches, whose role it is to guide students academically, emotionally, and socially, can be a counselor or an advisor, but they can also be a math, English, or biology professor" (20). Carter advocates this approach for all teachers of developmental education. These students in particular need extra guidance and support, and they are the least likely to persevere."Academic coaching is an ongoing partnership to help student produce fulfilling results in their lives. Through the process of coaching, students deepen their learning, take responsibility for their actions, improve their effectiveness, and consciously create their outcomes in life" (Webberman 19).

Academic coaching programs have been linked to improved student retention and graduation rates, too. With funding for public colleges rapidly shrinking and depending more and more on graduation rates, it's likely that more developmental ed programs will start looking into coaching programs and training for their professors.

Webberman, Amy L. "Academic Coaching to Promote Student Success: An Interview with Carol Carter." Journal of Developmental Education. 13.2 (Winter 2011): 18-20. Print.