Coaching as Educational Leadership and Its Effects on Student Learning

Abstract

This project examined coaching as an important aspect of educational leadership. To be more precise, the research question was stated as clarification on the effectiveness of multidimensional coaching in terms of improving student learning. Although there is sufficient academic research in the field, the researcher identified a number of new findings. To start with, coaching is mostly regarded as a teacher-focused approach towards enhancing their professional practice, though some scholars noted the relevance of its content-specific character.

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Nevertheless, the role of this educational strategy as learning-enhancing was stated by all scholars whose works were reviewed in the paper. At the same time, the majority of scholars tended to explore this topic from a narrow perspective. To illustrate, such themes were defined in the context of the review as coaching as leadership, coaching directed on school staff members, and peer coaching, among others. A limited number of scholars regarded the problem in light of a multidimensional approach. However, the greatest value of the summarized findings of the review is linked to the fact that coaching is a useful tool for the general enhancement of a well-balanced learning environment for students.

Therefore, the research implications are both of practical importance and can be extended to further exploration of the research question. For instance, the proposed framework can be studied in the context of the large sample to generate substantial primary evidence on the topic. This conclusion was based not only on scholarly research but also on the author’s practical experience and observation in the field.

Scope of the Research

The successful learning of a student is dependent on numerous factors including individual personality features, issues connected with the learner’s emotional state and family environment among others. In this way, any attempts to extend traditional learning methods, such as coaching a student, should take into account a range of perspectives at the same time. The concept of coaching ought to be the basis for a multidimensional framework that will be able to simultaneously address several factors that prevent the student from learning successfully.

Although multidimensional coaching can be a powerful strategy for enhancing students’ learning from different perspectives, the research base of this educational paradigm is rather limited. To be more precise, the researchers who have focused on this topic tend to discuss this issue narrowly, from a stakeholder-specific perspective, such as analysis of peer or teachers’ coaching or parents’ role in the process, to list a few. Nevertheless, it is evident that each aspect of a student’s learning environment has a unique influence on the process and academic achievement outcomes.

Therefore, the multiple factors surrounding the student in daily schooling cannot be regarded separately when they are provided with coaching and advanced learning or minimize their positive outcomes if neglected. This issue should be considered foremost by school administrators and principals as direct observers of the interconnectedness of these stakeholders and students for ensuring smooth operations of the entire facility.

Moreover, the direction of the current educational policies greatly encourages thorough involvement of a variety of stakeholders in student-centric learning for the betterment of student achievement. It follows that the chosen research focus, i.e. coaching as a multifaceted educational leadership paradigm, should be accurately reviewed in light of potential facilitation of student learning and its success.

Importance of the Topic

Coaching is a complex notion with multiple meanings. In the context of education, coaching entails multiple approaches to teaching that determine the essence of its definition, including coaching identified as educational, instructional, life-centered, leadership, or learning (Neumerski, 2012; Leithwood, Patten & Jantzi, 2010; Aguilar, 2013). In the scope of this research, coaching is regarded as a manifestation of a specified leadership vision of the educational process and an individual-focused approach towards self-evolution and empowerment of the student in learning. For instance, Neumerski (2012) notes that “effective schools almost always have leaders focused on instructions” (p. 310).

In this respect, it is possible to surmise that instructions are not solely limited to curricula activities, though the latter remains the centerpiece of this method. On the contrary, the task of coaching in this context is to increase student self-awareness of his or her own strengths and weaknesses and develop his/her individual self-responsibility for further self-directed learning. Hence, on one hand, this domain presumes an instructive character, largely on the part of the teacher, though directed at the student.

However, it has to be well thought out and complex rather than limited to any particular part or participant of the educational process. In terms of the instructors, this term may refer to a principal, teacher, or coach’s assistance to a student through one-on-one self-enhancement instructions that may be most effective when their efforts are intertwined. On the other hand, this technique is based on the student’s strengths which means development of individual potential in the long run.

In agreeing with this, Leithwood, Patten, and Jantzi (2010) have emphasized the significance of this leadership style of indirect nature embodied in “rational, emotional, organizational and family paths” (p. 673). Drawing upon this statement, a multi-sided coaching leadership paradigm ensures the student’s comprehensive development. On a similar note, the influence on this enhancement is formulated as the one involving a number of factors and several most important stakeholders.

In this way, “high productivity, opportunities for higher-order thinking skills, and enthusiasm for learning” (Zan & Donegan-Ritte, 2014, p. 93) can be nurtured in learners. Therefore, referring to the proposed framework is a good approach for holistic and effective learning for students, while making all other stakeholders of the process satisfied, ranging from family members to different coaches and institutions as a whole.

Regardless of the fact that the studies do not predominantly link the issues under discussion to the role of a school administrator, they are vital in terms of professional duties and successful performance. In other words, the scope of responsibilities of the school administrators is directly connected with ensuring smooth collaboration between all these stakeholders and thus favorable outcomes for them all. That is to say, the primary goal of any educational activity is to ensure that the students’ anticipated learning outcomes are achieved successfully. This procedure involves multiple components. The administrators, in this respect, have to take care to ensure that all constituents of this process function and interact in a planned, well-designed, and efficient manner.

Thus, coaching leadership initiatives should be central practical paradigms for the administrators of institutional operations. Apart from that, the fact that coaching itself can be implemented by any of the relevant participants, such as a teacher, a principal, or a peer, signifies the validity of the above assumption. Careful examination of the chosen topic from different stakeholders’ standpoints will allow an in-depth understanding of coaching in relation to leadership and its effects on students’ learning.

Research Question

In accordance with the reasoning on the scope and relevance of the topic considered, a clear research question can be formulated. In order to cover the focus of the exploration precisely, it can be articulated as follows: how effective is multi-stakeholder coaching as a form of leadership for students’ learning? Unfortunately, there is no specific academic study that has explored coaching from different perspectives all at once. Hence the indicated research question clarifies the role that multidimensional coaching plays in the enhancement of students’ learning.

What is more, the gaps in the current scholarly research can be identified. Instead of focusing on a narrowed view on coaching from a position of any of the educational specialists (i.e. a principal or a teacher), the research reviews the existing literature in brief and synthesizes the knowledge obtained. As a result, coaching leadership can be regarded as a collaborative and shared knowledge domain involving several educators and other relevant stakeholders at the same time.

Therefore, the investigation is not only a critical qualitative literature review but also an exploration of great practical significance. To be more precise, the researcher will also reason over the ways on how educators best lead in educational settings today in order to impact student learning by means of coaching. The analysis conducted in the paper is based on both the findings of recent academic research and the author’s individual learning experience as a student at Concordia University as well as practical observations about the administration and performance of Robbinsdale School District 281 in Robbinsdale, Minnesota.

Anticipated Outcomes

The completion of the research will make it possible to draw several conclusions regarding the practical domain of teacher-student interaction and understand the impacts that well-organized coaching can have on the students’ learning. Foremost, Aguilar (2013) has aptly noted that “coaching can help create the conditions necessary for instructional practices to change and student outcomes to improve” (par. 6). It will be possible to outline the strategy directed at detecting the needs of students and clarifying the factors that hinder their ability to learn successfully in order to address them by means of coaching. In this way, it is valid to assert that this procedure is likely to enhance the general students’ learning conditions.

The researcher will attempt to demonstrate that this process can be most effective when planned and implemented with the engagement of different stakeholders, such as teachers, principals, and parents. A number of stakeholders involved in the coaching framework will be determined on an individual basis in accordance with the gaps in knowledge and learning specificities of a particular student. Thus the learning environment should be of the broadened scope that is expanded from solely school-focused to also include the home. As a result, coaching as a holistic approach to teaching will improve interpersonal relationships and communication within these domains.

What is more, this paradigm of educational leadership aims to transform an ordinary “collaborative, reflective practice” (Aguilar, 2013). Hence, the researcher will demonstrate that coaching can assist both teachers and students in developing and improving their collaborative and reflective skills, which will also enhance the learning environment and, as a result, learning outcomes. Specifically, this procedure can transform students’ attitudes toward learning in a more enthusiastic way, with generally improved “organizational, planning, problem-solving and time management skills” (van Nieuwerburgh & Tong, 2013, p. 14).

Finally, needless to say, that the discussed educational leadership method makes it possible to change the way in which inter-school operations are performed. Therefore, this transformation will potentially affect the school educational system in a positive manner and become the means of developing and supporting collective leadership. These processes altogether will generally benefit both staff members and learners in a positive manner and improve learning achievements as a whole.

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Literature Review

The contemporary academic research on the topic is diverse in terms of the narrowed perspectives under which the posed research question is considered. Therefore, this section of the project provides an overview of the scholarship regarding leadership versus coaching paradigms as they can be implemented with the engagement of different stakeholders and influence student learning at large. This literature review will attempt to bridge theory-to-practice in regards to leadership and coaching paradigms.

Foremost, it is crucial to stress that no current exploration of the subject matter was found to have provided an explicit answer to the introduced research question. Thus, the review of the literature is structured in such a way that it is possible to construct this answer implicitly by synthesizing the findings of the previous research with regards to the constituents of the research question. Hence, the findings were divided into four parts:

  • (a) coaching with respect to its role in the context of leadership;
  • (b) coaching as an influential tool for the professional enhancement of different personnel;
  • (c) peer-focused coaching and its outcomes;
  • (d) a holistic approach towards coaching as a leadership style for improved students’ learning.

Coaching vs. Leadership: Understanding the Phenomenon

To start, it is necessary to note that none of the scholars considered in the paper have precisely identified coaching as a favorable educational leadership domain. On the contrary, the investigators have mostly defined this phenomenon either in a general manner or more specifically, with regard to their individual, narrowed professional field of interest. For instance, the term under analysis can be defined as a “general practice to improve teacher instruction and student learning,” though it is recognized as content-specific nowadays, following the reasoning by Miller and Stewart (2013, p. 291).

This interpretation of the term is rather general. However, it implies that coaching is indeed capable of enhancing the students’ productivity in the process of learning. Simultaneously, it offers no vivid connection with respect to educational leadership. In addition, van Nieuwerburgh and Tong (2013) have aptly stated that coaching should be regarded as “a means of increasing student performance, largely through coaching of their teachers” (p. 5).

Again, the relevance of this approach towards improving student learning cannot be doubted based on the above definition. Nonetheless, the emphasis in this interpretation of the analyzed notion is put on coaching as a solely teacher-focused framework, which shows a rather limited insight into the essence of this phenomenon. In any case, it is relevant to claim that coaching is conceptualized as a teaching framework capable and necessary for enhancing student learning.

In terms of the link between coaching and leadership, scholars have also provided scarce evidence. To illustrate, drawing upon Turman and Schrodt (2004), coaching can be enacted within several leadership styles, such as autocratic, democratic, social support leadership, positive feedback, and training and instruction leadership (p. 131-132). As was stated earlier, this vision of coaching versus leadership styles is content-specific.

In other words, the researchers have stressed the relevance of these two notions to such educational roles as a coach in sports. As a result, coaching as a process is generally explained as a blended leadership approach with the gradual or phased engagement of any of the aforementioned leadership frameworks that are found favorable for a specific situation. By the same token, these researchers have not distinguished coaching as a continuation of leadership but rather its modified and mixed implication.

Apart from that, several previous researchers in the field have proposed a distinct paradigm for understanding leadership in the scope of schooling and overall educational environment. This factor is close to the introduced research direction of this project, with an emphasis on a multi-stakeholder approach. For example, Leithwood, Patten, and Jantzi (2010) have defined leadership as a set of practices redistributed among the staff (p. 684). Additionally, instructional leadership has been analyzed by Neumerski (2012) given the standpoint of principals, teachers, and coaches in comparison whereas “leaders do not work in isolation” (p. 311).

In accordance with a range of duties of each of these professionals, their strategic implementation of coaching as instructional leadership may differ. At the same time, the scholar has underlined the necessity of collaboration between these professionals since they all work for mutually beneficial outcomes; namely, improved student performance and achievements.

According to these assumptions, it is possible to state that leadership can and should be both distributed and collaborative because all educators aim to achieve the same goal, i.e. ensuring a positive, nurturing, and highly productive learning environment. What is more, instructional leadership, or coaching, is an integral part of the above process. Therefore, as soon as distributed and collaborative teaching is efficiently incorporated within an organized learning atmosphere, the students are likely to work on the tasks and study effectively. It follows that the proposed connectedness of coaching and leadership in the light of educational establishments and learning can be identified deductively.

Moreover, the similar conclusion can be drawn with respect to the necessity of involvement of multiple stakeholders in this procedure. At the very least, the aforementioned scholars have demonstrated the relevance of such statements concerning a close collaboration of different professionals in the schooling network. Thus, the assumption regarding coaching versus educational leadership interconnectedness is more than justified.

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Coaching Frameworks Focused on the Personnel

Given the earlier discussion, it is clear that teacher-focused coaching is one of the most researched domains in the area of investigation of the research question. Several resources have offered well-reasoned rationales in this respect. However, it should be noted that the majority of them tend to concentrate on the impacts this procedure can make on the coaching individuals themselves. On a similar note, the factor of the learners’ achievements and improvements is significantly overlooked. As a result, any conclusions in this light can be made implicitly, to a great extent, or drawn on the generalized basis as positive teacher-to-student interaction enhancement.

For instance, Miller and Stewart (2013) have considered a teamwork enhancement of literacy skills by means of the Community Coaching Cohort Model (CCCM), which is aimed at the progression of teamwork in the scope of community, the advancement of collaboration through the positive relationships and personal reflection. All these manipulations are relevant for coaching as educational leadership, notwithstanding that this article regards the issue from the teachers’ perspective. Furthermore, Sargent, Allen, Frahm, and Morris (2009) have limited their investigation of coaching of educators with respect to teaching assistants roles. In particular, scholars have defined this concept as “direct, time-appropriate interaction with a team that is intended to shape team processes to produce good performance” (Sargent et al., 2009, p. 526).

Again, students’ “good performance” is generally identified as a common goal for all educational professionals. However, no specific learning outcomes were distinguished in this study. At the same time, practice- and problem-centered coaching training programs involving a three-hour training session were analyzed by Sargent et al. (2009) as relevant coaching paradigms that would train professionals more effectively while improving the quality of student learning. In accordance with the results of the coaching of fourteen teaching assistants in a group used for motivational and consultation purposes, the researchers have underlined the improvement of their interpersonal and communication skills as vital for teamwork in the classroom.

Therefore, positive learning outcomes should be present in the classroom, but this study did not provide clear evidence in this regard. The results reported by the scholars were limited to the announcement of “more productive teamwork,” “motivation towards the development of the more successful team,” and an inspirational learning environment (Sargent et al., 2009, p. 13).

Additionally, Goker (2006) has underlined the necessity to create a professional learning community involving multiple stakeholders, similarly to Neumenski (2012) among other researchers, and following the chosen research direction. This study has evidenced improved instructional, or clarity, skills for the trained/ coached teachers in the light of learning English as a foreign language (EFL) as well as their self-efficacy as professionals. Apart from that, positive outcomes and the high learning achievements of their students is emphasized by the scholars.

However, the above conclusion is just a generalization in the context of the inquiry while the actual student skills that were improved are not listed by the scholars. Such shortcoming is a sufficient limitation of the reviewed work, notwithstanding the improved quality of instruction can be regarded as a favorable and win-win condition for both the student and the teacher. Nevertheless, whereas no data was provided in the scope of the analyzed resource, this assumption can be expressed only implicitly and supported by the findings of van Nieuwerburgh and Tong (2013) considered earlier. What is more, teacher-based coaching initiatives are likely to result in “increased goal attainment, reduced stress, enhanced well-being and resilience” (Grant, Green & Rynsaardt, 2010, p. 151).

Regardless of the fact that the aforementioned coaching outcomes concerned teachers as professionals, this finding can be identified as successful for future student achievements. To put it in other words, Grant, Green, and Rynsaardt (2010) have found that, in this respect, educators are capable of “acting as role models” (p. 151). As a result, the improvement of teaching skills is likely to be transferred onto students, though this assumption was not stated in the analyzed study directly.

The range of skills and knowledge that were improved in accordance with this study included “self-efficacy,” “enhancement of quality of life,” “leadership development and attainment of self-set goals,” as well as reduction of anxiety, stress, and depression (Grant, Green & Rynsaardt, 2010, p. 152). Hence, improved skills of educational professionals are transformed for the betterment of the emotional learning environment and better learning achievements for the students as well.

To sum up, even though the studies that have explored coaching as the activity aimed at improving the teachers' professionalism, there is a sufficient implicit background that makes it possible to trace the connectedness of this factor towards further enhancement of students learning. Following the review of the academic literature, the students found success in terms of improved skills as an advanced collaboration with teachers and peers, in-group interaction, and more productive teamwork, especially due to a positive feedback, and greater task satisfaction, to list a few.

Of course, the findings of the aforementioned inquiries did not provide empirical evidence in this respect. Nonetheless, the conceptualization of coaching as a notion presumes the above outcome as a given. Therefore, a well-developed teacher’s coaching should be assumed as a direct way of pursuing the positive students’ learning outcomes. However, there is a lack of exact indicators relevant to assert how effective is coaching for learning of the students, at least given the information highlighted in the sources considered in this subsection of the literature review.

Student-Centered Approaches to Coaching

Although teachers’ coaching is considered to be one of the most frequently used variations of this leadership framework focused on the advancement of learning, there are studies that have analyzed coaching in terms of student-centered education in particular. For instance, Zan and Donegan-Ritte (2014) have identified several relevant features of student-based coachings, such as “child-centered beliefs about children and learning; warm, sensitive relationships with children; and high-quality language modeling and verbal feedback” (p. 93).

In the context of these conditions, the scholars have proposed a framework, the Classroom Assessment Scoring System (CLASS). This model was not solely children-centric. On the contrary, the researchers have investigated the necessity of analyzing student-to-teacher interactions in the scope of coaching techniques. This part presumes collaboration as a centerpiece of coaching, which is relevant for the chosen research direction, even though the number of collaborative participants, in this case, is limited to two. This study was conducted on the sample of the control group size of 22 students as compared to 38 in the group exposed to the intervention.

While the sample is relatively small, the scholars have clarified a number of positive outcomes in the process, including “behavior management, productivity, language modeling, and quality of feedback” (Zan & Donegan-Ritte, 2014, p. 93). These results of the qualitative exploration provide evidence of the relevance of the proposed multi-stakeholder coaching model. However, the necessity of primary evidence collection with regard to students’ concrete learning outcomes is more than critical. By and large, the results of this study clearly indicate that there is a specific degree of effectiveness of the student learning with respect to the implementation of the coaching strategy. This is true regardless of the small sample size.

While the proposed by Zan and Donegan-Ritte (2014) CLASS model can be used as a framework for the intervention, it will be necessary to recruit a large sample of participants for the supplementary study in order to make sure that the findings are reliable, valid, credible and can be generalized with respect to the sufficient groups of students.

Overall, the proposed student-centric coaching methods tend to emphasize a single approach towards this procedure as well as underline the content-specific coaching in relation to the narrowed professional areas. Namely, “the mentor gives, the protégé gets, the organization benefits” (van Nieuwerburgh & Tong, 2013, p. 7). Nonetheless, it is important to emphasize that an over-focus on winning rather than learning environment conditions by coaches may result in flawed perceptions of learning as such by the students.

At the same time, a good leadership coaching example, in sports, in particular, may allow the learners to acquire such skills as “responsibility, conformity, the subordination of the self to the greater good...effort, persistence, and delay of gratification” (Turman & Schrodt, 2004, p. 131). In this respect, a coaching technique in sports is supported by the evidence-proving enhancement of the students’ personal qualities. As a result, in accordance with these findings, coaching can be defined as an effective approach towards the comprehensive development of the student’s personality.

What is more, this individual-centric success is further expanded on student achievement within the academic sphere. On a similar note, van Nieuwerburgh and Tong (2013) have emphasized that peer coaching can be beneficial for groups of students from multiple perspectives. First, the issue is relevant with regard to “increased levels of goal attainment” and “striving”, alongside with hope, resilience and increased well-being (van Nieuwerburgh & Tong, 2013, p. 6). All in all, if the above factors are combined, they are likely to lead to the enhanced academic performance as a whole.

Following the findings collected in this passage, it is clear that coaching within the educational system that is directed on students specifically can not only bring a positive increase in terms of academic achievements that are indicated in better scores in the examination tests among others, but can also improve the general teaching-learning environment for the students, maintain their emotional and life balance with the external world conditions. As a result, these circumstances will indirectly facilitate student learning. It follows that coaching can be regarded as an effective framework within the educational leadership toolkit.

The same assumptions can be derived from the findings by Green, Grant, and Rynsaardt (2007), who found that the evidence-based life coaching can result in “significant increases in levels of cognitive hardiness and hope, and significant decreases of depression” among high school students (p. 24). This target group was chosen for the study because of the specific challenge posed by the high school environment on students aged 15 through 18. To be more precise, the learners of this age group experience sufficient academic pressure from both teachers and parents because their achievements are likely to impact their future entry into college as well as their future career paths. As a result, their emotional state is imbalanced that results in further problems, such as anxiety, depression, and constant stress (Green, Grant & Rynsaardt, 2007, p. 25).

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The proposed coaching intervention framework is comprised of a 10-session face-to-face life coaching program. In this way, it is possible to outline an additional domain for the potential improvement of the student-learning environment, especially in relation to students’ emotional wellbeing and balanced cognitive and emotional state. In other words, coaching is likely to positively affect the state of the student’s important features and characteristics of personality. In light of these results, the conclusion can be drawn that coaching is an effective educational leadership strategy for the advancement of the background environment that can facilitate the students’ willingness and capability to learn.

Nonetheless, the sample for the study, comprised of 56 female students, results in a twofold limitation of the results of the exploration. First, these positive outcomes for students’ emotional-path coaching model cannot be broadly applied as a generalized quality for the large-scale student base. Therefore, a supplementary study for collection of the primary data with relation to a large study sample will be necessary to claim the relevance of these assumptions to a more sufficient quantity of research participants. Second, since the sample only involved female students, the findings may not be simply articulated as common with regards to males. In this respect, the research paradigm regarded in this case is interesting for consideration but requires additional research to be conducted in order to obtain empirical evidence for this issue concerning the general target audience.

Apart from that, it should be noted that coaching is critical for teamwork enhancement, which is one of the vital aspects of the students’ successful learning. In particular, Bolton (1999) found that coaching is a good instrument in terms of (a) arranging a proper start for newly formed teams; (b) managing “diversity and conflict”; (c) being of great assistance for the students for learning from their individual experiences (p. 254). What is more, peer coaching as a “student support stance” is a facilitator of students’ engagement in the learning process (Bitter, O’Day, Gubbins & Socias, 2009, p. 21).

In addition, Ketelaar, Beijaard, Brok, and Boshuizen (2013) considered the role of coaching in the light of the implementation of the innovations in the classroom activities while working in groups, individually, and being involved in a whole-class situation. As a result, the investigators observed improved teacher’s professional identities and students’ successful integration into the innovation-centered classroom. Thus these findings once again provide evidence of the interconnectedness of coaching implemented with the aim of the professional growth of teachers and its positive influence on student learning.

In addition, the aforementioned studies showed that the central focus of coaching as learning enhancement is not limited to concentration on the academic achievements particularly. On the contrary, this educational leadership domain is directed at the development of student character traits that can improve their learning outcomes if they are paid attention to in the context of coaching, or minimize its positive accomplishments if they are neglected. For instance, successful working in teams, which was considered by the above-indicated researchers, is one of the critical skills that should be advanced. Thus this argument also supports the potential effectiveness of coaching for student learning in the long run and from a large-scale perspective.

Drawing upon the unstoppable pace of contemporary technological evolution, online-based coaching should also be considered. For example, Hrastinski and Stenbom (2013) have explored this research paradigm on the grounds of student-to-student coaching within the Internet dimension. A challenge that is faced by the more experienced students, i.e. coaches, is that via the web, it is hard to determine the level of competence of the coached student since the assistance is only provided through instant messages or social networking given the case study as an illustration.

Although the size of the sample tested in the scope of this exploration was rather small, the results showed that there was at least a two-percent increase in positive learning outcomes for the competition of math tasks of the students who were coached by other, more experienced students. At the same time, there is one shortcoming that can be distinguished in such a learning-enhancement framework. To be more precise, the investigators emphasized the differing perceptions of both student categories with regard to this experience that can substantially undermine the success of performing the coaching online. While student-coaches observed that their colleagues perceived them as additional helpers in completing the tasks, the coached participants stressed the fact that they indeed required just some hints to do the homework (Hrastinski & Stenbom, 2013).

It follows that online peer coaching is a popular form of youth interpersonal communication. Hence, it can be helpful in terms of achieving the objectives set by the coaches and become an even more effective instrument as other ones. However, this emerging approach still requires both sufficient theorizing and teacher supervision in order to become an actual self-enhancement domain.

A similar observation linked to the hard detection of weaknesses in the scope of coach-to-coached relationships was identified by Kunz, Nugent, Pedersen, DeChenne and Houston (2013) with respect to peer coaching. The inquiry conducted by the scholars focused on rural schools and peer coaching with regard to the remote areas. The research targeted the science subjects solely as a critical component to success in many careers. Following the research background, this was due to the fact that US students experience sufficient challenges within this academic area specifically compared to students from other countries. To illustrate, “35% of US eighth-graders have a ‘below basic’ understanding of science”, while only “32% have (a) basic” level of understanding (Kuntz et al., 2013, p. 3).

The indicators are worse when taking into consideration ethnicity factors: 63% of African-American students and 52% of Hispanic students of the aforementioned age group have a below basic understanding of science, whereas only 10% of African-Americans and 16% of Hispanics have basic levels (Kuntz et al., 2013, p. 3). This trend with regard to rural schools is even more acute. In this light, online-mediated instructional leadership can be of great assistance as it is shown by the proposed scenario of exploration on the basis of the rural schools in the Midwestern region. Indeed, the number of high school science teachers recruited to participate (47) was too small in order to make any generalizations. Nonetheless, the scholars have asserted that coaching of the teachers with regard to improved science inquiry skills is likely to result in similarly enhanced skills of the students.

What is more, the issue of remoteness and non-accessibility to educational advancements and opportunities can be addressed in this way. Based on the results obtained, the teachers’ content knowledge was improved from between 34% to 58% after the intervention; scientific inquiry knowledge grew from 69% to 80%, while their self-rated confidence increased from 78% to 91% (Kuntz et al., 2013, p. 6).

Undoubtedly, student-learning outcomes progressed as well, but this variable was not evaluated in the scope of this research. Hence, the coaching of the teachers can facilitate student learning and make it more productive. By the same token, there is a lack of strong evidence that states exactly which skills and learning outcomes are improved as a result. Consequently, the student-centered outcomes have to be studied more carefully in order to better understand what tools the teacher can use to advance the skills most necessary with regard to a particular student.

Hypothetical Assumptions regarding Holistic Coaching Models

In the context of the above discussion, Leithwood and Mascall (2008) among other scholars, provided insight into distributed or collaborative leadership. The scholars found that the schools where coaching is practiced and distributive and collaborative leadership are taken for granted have higher and more stable students’ scores in “state-mandated tests of language and mathematics” among other outcomes (Leithwood & Mascall, 2008, p. 540).

In this case, coaching initiatives should be perceived as equally important by the educational staff members of different specialization and areas of expertise. There is a need for concise, conscious and well thought out engagement of all stakeholders in the coaching process and distributive leadership. This must be done in order to avoid negative impacts of students’ engagement with school-focused activities and performance due to the perceived multidimensional pressure from these stakeholders if the framework is improperly planned and implemented (Leithwood & Mascall, 2008).

Hence coaching can be also regarded as a risky technique to some degree. Namely, if the strategy is organized in a flawed manner, as a one-fits-all approach, for example, and the differing educational specialists and family members will be randomly involved in the process, the results may do more harm than good. Indeed, it is intuitive that children differ in terms of their learning styles, as well as the learning circumstances they are placed within, especially with regard to their home-based learning environment.

Therefore, the remark by Leithwood and Mascall (2008) is an extremely important one to consider. In this context, the engagement of multiple stakeholders in the process of coaching should be understood as identified according to the individual needs of a particular student. As a result, coaching itself has to be based on in-depth research of the target audience, detection, and evaluation of its learning needs and requirements.

Apart from Leithwood and Mascall (2008), this issue has been examined by Zan and Donegan-Ritte (2014). Other researchers have just briefly mentioned this attribute of the coaching preparatory stage. Consequently, a thorough exploration of students needs should be taken as a given before even planning coaching in order to be sure that the identified needs will be correlated with anticipated outcomes. Thus, the enhancement of student learning will be much more effective in the achievement of the posed goals and objectives of the coaches and they will not be overworked with the excess engagement of stakeholders in the process when their assistance will be necessary.

For instance, if the learning behavior of a certain student is ineffective due to his or her poorly developed communication skills or low self-esteem, it will be necessary to engage the family, a psychologist, and other school staff members in the intervention. In contrast, if a student experiences an emotional imbalance with the group and cannot work as a team, the emphasis should be put on group work within the coaching framework. If these issues are neglected and all stakeholders are involved in the procedure at once, the student can feel overloaded with tasks and objectives, some of which can be unnecessary to their situation.

This circumstance can result in underperformance of the student instead of increasing his or her learning abilities. Unfortunately, these assumptions are derived from the studies rather implicitly whereas there is no practical evidence to support these claims as this research paradigm has been thoroughly overlooked for some reason.

Although the aforementioned researchers have not considered the role of parents in this context, their significance for emotional well-being and initial educational guidance for the students can be drawn upon from other studies. To illustrate, Leithwood, Pattern, and Jantzi (2010) have explored the issue in question in the context of a four-component framework, including rational, emotional, organizational, and family paths. To start with, a rational path, embodied in “curriculum, teaching, and learning,” is favorable for “establishing high expectations, helping to clarify shared goals about academic achievements, and monitoring student performance in relation to academic goals” (Leithwood, Pattern & Jantzi, 2010, p. 673-674).

What is more, this paradigm, when enhanced through coaching, can result in an improved disciplinary climate. In addition, an emotional path is manifested in collective teacher efficacy (CTE) or collective confidence as well as “trust in colleagues, students, and parents” (Leithwood, Pattern & Jantzi, 2010, p. 677). It is also worth noting that the emotional path based on coaching is closely connected to principal leadership as a guiding and crucial element in terms of maintenance of these trustworthy relationships between the aforementioned stakeholders.

Moreover, an organizational path is linked to “teachers’ working conditions which have an influence on teachers’ and students’ emotional state,” including instructional time, and development of the professional learning community with principals that are supporters rather than directive-givers (Leithwood, Pattern & Jantzi, 2010, p. 678). Finally, a family path should be considered as family educational culture, such as the home environment, the amount of time spent watching television, and visits from school personnel.

These studies make it possible to trace the connectedness of the effectiveness of coaching with regard to student learning given the individual basis of development of such programs, which was identified in this literature review earlier. On the one hand, the interconnectedness of all these four elements of coaching should be taken into account as a general framework for ensuring student’s productive and self-sufficient learning. Indeed, drawing upon the findings of the literature review, it is clear that rational, emotional, organizational, and family constituents are crucial for the creation of a well-organized and balanced student learning environment.

As soon as all these conditions are appropriately managed, the individual student's learning is likely to be holistic, with successful outcomes as the result. On the other hand, assessing the needs of a particular student as a preliminary technique before coaching initiatives is launched is critical for understanding whether or not the specified area of any of these factors requires more accurate consideration. As a result, a well-planned and carefully implemented coaching strategy can be effective and lead to positive learning outcomes for the students.

 

Answer to the Research Question

According to the rationale provided by the previous researchers, it is necessary to note that starting from the conceptualization of the notion of coaching, the term is directed at the enhancement of student learning. Simultaneously, there is a lack of empirical evidence that confirms this bold theoretical assumption with large-scale proofs. Undoubtedly, certain findings with regard to small research samples, such as inquiries by Goker (2006) and Zan and Donegan-Ritte (2014), Green, Grant, and Rynsaardt, (2007) among others, demonstrated the positive impact of coaching on improving the student learning environment, overall emotional and cognitive well-being. As a result, the assumption can be made that the improved learning conditions and general balanced state of the student are notable indicators for further improvement of students’ learning outcomes.

Therefore, when answering to the set research question, the following should be noted:

  1. The outcomes of coaching with respect to different areas of the learning environment may differ based on the specified sphere of the educational profession. However, the coaching strategy itself is generally effective for the learners in light of the targeted area of students’ learning performance if implemented properly.
  2. The majority of the researches considered in the paper highlighted the development and improvement of cognitive, emotional, communication-related, teamwork, and other skills as positive outcomes of coaching. The concept of actual academic success as an anticipated outcome is has been neglected by the scholars, though it is assumed implicitly both in respect to the concept of coaching itself and supplementary personality traits enhanced in the process.

At the same time, it is vital to conduct a holistic research in order to clarify the answer to the question in both explicit and holistic manner and support it with sufficient qualitative and quantitative empirical evidence.

Research Summary and Conclusions

The review of the academic resources on the chosen topic makes it possible to state that coaching is an important concept that must be examined in the context of educational leadership. This is due to that the scholars have found numerous positive implications of this teaching strategy on the betterment of the schooling environment for students. What is more, this improvement equally concerns teachers and other educational professionals, students, and their parents, if implemented properly.

On a similar note, the research findings are somewhat controversial because of the lack of large samples studied in light of the actual effects of coaching on student learning outcomes. This problem underlines the inability to generalize the theoretical assumptions and practical implications of the proposed programs and approaches to the large-scale student audiences.

However, the quality of the conducted research, even though with the engagement of small research samples, shows the relevance of this technique in ensuring transformational change in schooling in general. Based on the results of the review, it is clear that even targeting a specified group for coaching, i.e. a teacher presumes an indirect impact on the learning of the student. For instance, this issue is manifested in the better quality of instruction for the learners which is further demonstrated in a better understanding of the knowledge acquired as well as skills attained.

At the same time, teachers and students are not single participants in the learning process. Hence, coaching cannot be limited to these stakeholders but needs to be further expanded in order to address the factors relevant for each student in particular. In this way, a well thought out coaching strategy can become an effective way to establish an encouraging learning atmosphere for every student. This multidimensional framework can become even an individualized student-centered instruction in case it will be carefully planned and practiced.

Therefore, in summarizing the findings of the project, it is necessary to underline several important points.

First, the discussion held in the paper makes it possible to assert that coaching should be justifiably considered as an important educational leadership framework. This assumption is supported based on a number of factors. Foremost, owing to the fact that coaching is predominantly concerned with the enhancement of teachers’ instructive skills and knowledge, it is evident that implementation of this procedure is likely to improve the level of quality of the knowledge provided to the students (Leithwood & Mascall, 2008; Miller & Stewart, 2013). This issue is determined even by the definition of this teaching technique that assumes students’ enhanced learning as a given (van Nieuwerburgh & Tong, 2013).

Drawing upon the findings of the literature review, coaching targeting the teachers can result in their advanced practice, improved reflection, operational, leadership, and time management skills (Aguilar, 2013; Grant, Green & Rynsaardt, 2010). As a result, the emotional state of the teacher can also be enhanced, alongside him or her job and task satisfaction (Ketelaar, Bijaard, Brok, & Boshuizen, 2013). All these updated constituents of the teachers’ practical strategy will eventually impact the atmosphere in which the students learn. Hence, the above situation implies that coaching as a mediating tool in teacher-to-student impacts can be regarded as positive.

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Second, it is also relevant to assert that coaching can be regarded as a content-specific domain in terms of the direct enhancement of student learning from the perspective of a particular educator. Such researchers as Miller and Stewart (2013), Turman and Schrodt (2004), Neumerski (2012), van Nieuwerburgh and Tong (2013) have analyzed the concept from the narrowed standpoints of principals, teachers, and athletic coaches among other specialists. All these studies have emphasized an opportunity to enhance the overall learning environment for the students, making it emotionally stable and balanced.

Moreover, improved teacher-student interactions and development of such qualities as responsibility, advanced teamwork skills, goal attainment, self-efficacy, and devotion are some other positive outcomes of content-specific coaching. On a similar note, when the efforts of different educational specialists are combined in the context of distributive and collaborative leadership, the impacts are multiplied and a more holistic learning environment can be achieved. These findings were evidenced by Goker (2006), Sargent et al. (2009), Neumenski (2012), and Bolton (1999) among others.

In this light, the reference to a multidimensional coaching as the most appropriate coaching paradigm is more than relevant. Such a model is likely to decrease the manifestations of anxiety, stress, and depression, expand the scope of interpersonal collaboration and communication, and lead to more productive teamwork and satisfaction from task completion.

Third, the extent of the analyzed concept is not limited to the teachers alone since the student learning environment and outcomes can be directly impacted by coaching. Although the studies discussed in the paper provided little empirical evidence in this respect, the qualitative characteristics and anticipated outcomes of this procedure were identified implicitly. For instance, Zan and Donegan-Ritte (2014) found that such advanced qualities of the learners increase academic productivity and behavioral self-management due to quality and positive feedback.

Fourth, more balanced teacher-to-student and peer-to-peer interactions, especially in groups, is another significant benefit of coaching to be mentioned (Goker, 2006; van Nieuwerburgh & Tong, 2013). Similarly, the increased levels of group integrity and cohesion and improved teamwork results should not be underestimated. In this way, coaching can be regarded as a suitable and extremely favorable technique for ensuring smooth and well-organized work in teams as well as the implementation of the innovations.

Fifth, despite the fact that the research base on multidimensional coaching is limited, the importance of this research domain is evident. In particular, there is more evidence with regard to the enhancement of the learning environment for the students in contrast to the actual learning outcomes in light of their academic performance. This is due to the fact that student learning is not limited to the school environment, but is of broader scope as it involves parents as well. As a result, the summary of the findings of such scholars as Leithwood and Mascall (2008), Zan and Donegan-Ritte (2014), Leithwood, Pattern, and Jantzi (2010) have presented the importance of emotional, rational, organizational paths in the students’ learning environment.

Taking into account all these constituents is the most favorable way to ensure students’ comprehensive personality development, and thus improved learning outcomes. Such multidimensional coaching is likely to maintain an atmosphere of collaboration, trust, advanced emotional state, and support for the learners. At the same time, it should be noted that this multi-component framework should be developed on a rather individual basis to avoid excessive pressure on the students during the implementation.

Sixth, although the amount of primary evidence is limited, the available results of the previous studies clearly prove the relevance and potential success of this leadership domain. For instance, a greater number of the researchers tend to argue that coaching generally increases academic performance (Kuntz et al., 2013; Leithwood, Pattern & Jantzi, 2010). However, Hrastinksi and Stenborn (2013) found a two-percent increase in math results for the coached students based on the coaching from their peers. Also, the schools where collaborative leadership with the incorporation of coaching is an integral part of the teaching strategy, showed higher and more stable results in the state-wide tests in mathematics and language (Leithwood & Mascall, 2008).

Seventh, regardless of the fact that online-mediated coaching is under-researched as an emerging trend, its role in the context of coaching at large should not be underestimated. On one hand, this approach is based on technological innovations that are the most favored by the target audience, namely, students. Hrastinski and Stenbon (2013), as noted earlier, indicated that this method works. Nevertheless, this technique has also its shortcomings, such as the inability of the coaches to clearly identify the needs and weaknesses of the coached students online. Though, this disadvantage is rather a stimulus for further studies than an actual drawback.

Finally, the significance of coaching for students in rural communities is critical as well. This statement is relevant with respect to the study by Kuntz et al. (2013) which has explored this domain. However, the research by Hrastinski and Stenbon (2013) can also be mentioned here since the internet-mediated coaching is more than favorable for learning advancement of the students who live in remote areas.

To conclude, it is necessary to emphasize that coaching as an implication of educational leadership is an effective paradigm of the extended teaching. This claim is backed up by the qualitative evidence from the studies that were reviewed in this literature review. Regardless of the segmented data collected from the discussed resources which concerned specific aspects of coaching, the findings of the review make it possible to state that coaching can be an efficient tool for enhancement of students’ learning both directly and indirectly. Moreover, the analyzed articles offered ready-to-use concepts and approaches which the researchers and practitioners may apply to expand the scope of research and practice in the field.

Discussion and Application

First and foremost, the results of the paper clearly show that researchers and practitioners in the sphere of education leadership should pay more attention to coaching as a teaching strategy. This method can be a valuable instrument for bringing changes to a lesson, a class, a course, and a school culture at large as a potentially successful educators’ attempt to impact students’ learning. Coaching is an eloquent way to implement a student-centered framework that is highly promoted by contemporary educational policy-makers. The greatest value that coaching is likely to nurture within the schooling environment is linked to the overall and multi-component improvement of the learning atmosphere for the students.

With a reference to the sources regarded in the review, the opportunity of change is the most distinct feature relevant to the discussed concept. Moreover, this transformation concerns both teaching and learning. Whereas the teacher’s attitude towards the delivery of knowledge is likely to transform, the parallel modification is expected in the students’ perception and comprehension of the provided learning materials. Therefore, the task of the practitioners is to plan, enhance, and guide this change in a relevant direction in order to make sure that the anticipated outcomes will be achieved, as a result.

While there is a lack of quantitative primary data on this research topic, the area of investigation is well theorized. At the same time, the theory of coaching is of a rather fragmented character. In other words, the main attention is concentrated on the specific aspects of coaching instead of providing a generative overview of this method from different perspectives simultaneously. For instance, the knowledge obtained from the studies is segmented for such topics as coaching with regard to school personnel, student peer coaching, online coaching, and the one that is oriented on the teachers and students in the remote areas.

Undoubtedly, each of these research paradigms covers the topic from a narrowed focus. Moreover, the findings of the earlier studies provide sufficient background for the educator to create and develop a teaching framework based on coaching that will be adapted to the needs of his or her students. As a result, these findings can be applied as the theoretical foundation for practical models within the specified circumstances of the schooling environment.

In contrast, a well-theorized and holistic study on the coaching of a broadened scope has yet to be found, nor has the exploration that would have precisely analyzed the large-scale practical outcomes of a certain coaching-based program. Therefore, regardless of the rich coverage of a variety of research paradigms, this research domain requires a more careful examination.

The necessity of a single study that would regard multidimensional coaching specifically will be a great advantage for both theorists and practitioners in the field. The issue is especially relevant with regard to the factor of educational leadership. In particular, coaching is a technique that assumes the empowerment of learners. This method is focused on the elimination of weaknesses within the students’ environment and mobilization of strengths for ensuring better learning outcomes. Leadership as a concept is put into practice by means of the same mechanism.

Thus, the analyzed leadership domain will lead the learners towards improved performance as a strategy created and launched through the vision of an educational leader with long-terms goals and aspirations. What is more, this insight into the improved performance of the student is to be expanded to the class, several groups, and organizations as a whole. In this light, coaching as an educational leadership strategy should be regarded as collaborative, with the engagement of the entire staff of a particular educational facility.

Apart from that, education is impossible without parents’ attention and their potential impact. For example, given the individual practical experience, it is frequently observed that if parents convey to their children that discipline is not as important in learning as achieving good grades in school subjects, the students can disregard this factor of the learning environment. Oftentimes, the bad discipline of a student is intertwined with low-test scores and overall low-level academic performance.

As a result, when other students face such inappropriate behavior, it can negatively impact the summative learning outcomes of the class at large. Hence, a family path, as indicated in the review, is a critical element of schooling and should be taken into account with respect to the organization of coaching models as well.

On the contrary, the proposed multidimensional coaching framework not only addresses the specific needs of each student but also minimizes and mitigates disruptions in student learning if implemented on the preventive basis. In this way, the multi-level collaboration between a variety of stakeholders engaged in this strategy will be a win-win perspective for the generally positive outcomes. For instance, consultation of the parents in terms of proper formulation of their children’s attitude towards learning will be a favorable way to ensure family-to-school resilience relationships.

As a result, these collaborative partnerships will ensure that students feel emotionally and cognitively safe in both environments. Thus, their attention will be more focused on studying by being enticed by parents’ and teachers’ support and attention. Moreover, the collaboration between educators of different ranks and specialties within the school environment will be another key to success. Specifically, students may act and succeed differently in different subjects and areas. Hence, the teachers themselves can work in collaboration and with their students foremost in terms of discussing such issues on one-to-one basis with a student.

In this respect, all participants of such a framework will be aware of each other’s needs and the fact that their goal is common, namely, the achievement of improved learning outcomes for the students as central stakeholders. A theoretically justified proposal of such a multidimensional framework may become an implication for further research in the area and the intervention developed on its basis can be a good primary evidence study as a way to test this assumption on practice when implemented properly.

Hence, from the perspective of a practitioner, especially with relation to school administration, coaching is a good way to ensure smooth and well-shaped collaboration between different educators in order to maintain a trustworthy collaborative framework for the students’ comprehensive development and successful learning. On the other hand, it is a sustainable approach towards teaching and learning as a whole. This is due to the fact that nurturing student achievement should be considered as a thoroughly planned model, engaging more than just school staff members.

In this respect, parents can be either facilitators or disruptors in learning, based on the living circumstances of a particular student. Therefore, the educators have to be the professionals who will carefully consider both benefits and potential disadvantages of coaching in order to organize and launch a student-centered coaching model that can ensure the evolution of the student’s personality and academic success to the fullest.

Moreover, the fact that the programs and interventions reviewed in the paper were successful emphasizes the availability of the resources that can be used as best practices in the field. Even though these studies did not provide the large-scale data to support an opportunity of generalization of the findings, they are carefully described and appropriate for replication in a broader context. Therefore, use of the earlier research as a basis for renewed research paradigms but with recruitment of the larger sample can be another valuable research domain.

In addition, the introduced previously research patterns can be combined in order to achieve multiple beneficial outcomes and test the validity of a combined hypothetical significance of such an approach. For instance, peer coaching for remote students performed online by urban students can be considered in this respect. Therefore, multidimensional coaching as educational leadership domain can be justifiably defined as a teaching practice through which educators’ may do their best to lead their educational settings today in order to impact student learning effectively.

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