Academic journal article Higher Learning Research Communications

Enhancing Faculty Performance through Coaching: Targeted, Individualized Support

Academic journal article Higher Learning Research Communications

Enhancing Faculty Performance through Coaching: Targeted, Individualized Support

Article excerpt


The faculty body is an integral part of higher education institutions (Guglielmo et al., 2010). Students spend the majority of their academic career interacting with faculty members and the relationships developed through those interactions have a direct impact on student success (Mundy, Kupczynski, Ellis, & Salgado, 2012). Faculty members who have the most developed pedagogical skills and are immersed in the needs of the students are best situated to guide students towards their learning goals (Cook-Sather, 2011; Hyers, Syphan, Cochran, & Brown, 2012).

Faculty teaching in the online environment are diverse in their perspective and approach (Cariaga-Lo, Worthy Dawkins, Enger, Schotter & Spence, 2010.). The resulting practices can range from highly effective to quite ineffective. Isolation and few opportunities to network may limit discourse and sharing of best practices that can organically occur in face-to-face settings (Bonura, Bissell, & Liljegren, 2012). Online organizations that understand this diversity in faculty preparedness and challenges in sharing ideas also understand their role in supporting faculty. To ensure that faculty are equipped with the most effective pedagogy and learning tools, ongoing faculty development is essential (Guglielmo et al., 2010; McKee & Tew, 2013). At the same time, according to Herman (2012), providing faculty training for online faculty remains a challenge for universities, especially as time and resources for competing activities become scarce (Huston & Weaver, 2008). Developing structured, standardized training to meet the needs of all faculty members may be an elusive task. Therefore, considering a range of faculty development opportunities that includes targeted, individualized support designed to meet the needs of diverse faculty members may be a viable solution for organizations committed to faculty success (Hyers et al., 2012).


Coaching is a relatively new process in professional development; however, coaching has deep theoretical roots that have been around for over a century and are observed in the works of Alfred Adler and Carl Jung. Coaching provides a collaborative, less intimidating approach to improving performance than other development options; effective coaching can guide faculty members from below average performance to above average performance. Not only does coaching provide a collaborative partnership, according to Passmore and Rehman (2012), coaching provides an enhanced relationship, thus encouraging the participants to learn information at a faster pace. Coaching allows individuals to identify their goals and have a voice in their own learning through reflection and feedback-practices which are all critical to change (McLeod & Steinert, 2009; Stover, Kissel, Haag, & Schoniker, 2011). An effective coaching relationship requires trust, confidentiality and that individuals make themselves vulnerable (Cox, 2012). It also provides for the opportunity for assistance without judgment (Koch, 2008).

There is very little research regarding faculty coaching at the university level (Denton & Hasbrouck, 2013). To date, much of the coaching literature focuses on work with elementary teachers in the area of literacy (for example, Stover et al., 2011). According to Brown (2013) and Chingos (2013), funding for education is at an all-time low in the United States. Therefore, coaching may be considered an optional luxury by a few who attest that it would take significant funding to bring schools up to simply an adequate level for operation (Boone, 2009). Still, more academic institutions are starting to consider faculty coaching an important element in professional development (Knight, 2012).

Coaching in some form has been occurring in many educational institutions but has not been until recently that it has been labeled as coaching (Denton & Hasbrouck, 2013). Previously, it was referred to using other titles such as instructional mentoring, faculty mentoring, or even instructional facilitating. …

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