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


Coaching in higher education is a relatively new field; although, it has been taking place in educational institutions for some time, even if it was not labeled as such. This paper describes the faculty development filosophies of a US-based higher education institution with a strong culture of supporting faculty and promoting social change. A coaching model was implemented as a means for professional development. It was designed to be facilitated through a peer relationship and it offers problem-focused, contextualized opportunities for faculty to collaborate, thus making the experience and outcome more meaningful. The coaching model is individualized, confidential, non-evaluative, and incorporates three pathways to support the professional development needs of faculty: self-assigned, a request from college leadership as a means to support faculty in an identified area of need, or the New Faculty Orientation (NFO) instructor may recommend a faculty member for coaching as a way to further engage in topics not discussed in-depth in NFO.

Keywords: Faculty development, faculty coaching, faculty support


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). …

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