Why Coaching in Academia? An Interview with Dr. Hayley Hesseln, PhD, CEC

December 6, 2016


Recently, you published an article in the inaugural edition of the Philosophy of Coaching entitled: Bridging the gap between higher education and the workforce:  a coach approach to teaching. What is the key message in your article?


Coaching in the classroom as a pedagogical approach to teaching will lead to enhanced learning outcomes: students embrace this style of teaching, recognize that they are the masters of their own learning destiny, that lifelong learning is critical to success, and that building essential skills will serve them in higher education and the labour market.


Why is this important?


This approach is important for a number of reasons.  Engaging with students to create a vibrant classroom helps student to meet academic requirements in terms of learning theoretical materials, but more importantly, this approach gives students the ability to build essential skills to demonstrate their mastery of the material.


Students who are engaged are more interested in learning and are more likely to take responsibility for their own learning outcomes. They build their confidence in an engaging environment because it’s open, it’s fun, and it’s a safe place to build new skills and to step out of academic comfort zones.


This process enables to students to become enlightened as to their own potential, which is empowering in and of itself, but reinforces the power of learning.


Finally, by giving students variety and allowing them to practice and use what they are learning, they build essential skills that are highly critical to success in higher educational pursuits and the workplace.  Students learn leadership through teamwork, they learn how to successfully collaborate and to mitigate conflict, they are encouraged to think critically and creatively, and they learn how to communicate orally and in writing.


Is change even possible?


Indeed, change is possible. In fact, students embrace this way of learning.  Rather than the traditional lecture/listen/repeat formula, students can discuss and apply what they’ve learned using experiential learning techniques.  When asked what they are taking away from the class, they not only demonstrate proficiency regarding academic lessons learned, but are keen to share the importance of learning essential skills and how this will help them to excel in future studies, their chosen careers, and life in general.


How will you monitor and evaluate if there is progress being made?


Further research is required to track students’ progress throughout their academic career.  I am also interested in looking at the role of emotional intelligence and individual and group coaching for students.

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