Coaching Supervision: and Course Development

An accidental insight.

I had the opportunity to obtain coaching supervision, and this session led to a profound insight about one of my postgraduate courses: Creative Pedagogies for Active Learning.

Brief background:

The course has only been in its second iteration, after a complete restructure, and the first year went really well. However, the second year had more bumps and bruises. And I had become frustrated because I felt that we didn’t reach our learners as well as during the first iteration. * Now this year, there was a significant jump in student numbers. The first year only had 7 students, this year we had 30. The course is build to intentionally create strategic confusion or disorienting dilemmas (Mezirow, 1975), the liminal space in threshold concepts that creates learning motives (Lernanlass). So it can be very intensive to engage with, particularly for learner who are from non-cognate disciplines.

My learning from coaching

Without being aware of it: we had build the course so that it not only relies on us teaching as a tag-team, but also coaching and mentoring the students through the process. Neither of us was aware of how strong that coaching/mentoring aspect was in the course. This year, the students struggled more because we could not create the same close relationship with our learners. Where at times we just sat around the table with a cup of coffee, often entirely neglecting the PowerPoints and had debates, wrestled with complex concepts, and often ended up researching one thing or another together. Thus truly co-creating meaning.

This insight unfortunately came very late and only within the frame of a coaching-supervision session.

So, what’s next?

So how do we tackle the issues? My first plan is to set learners up in learning groups, they stay in their learning group throughout the whole semester. We can then undertake group coaching and encourage the deep debates this way. The other idea I had, and hope I can recruit some course alumni. I am going to ask if previous course participants, if they would take mentorship of one of the groups and share their learning and how they have struggled and overcame these struggles. So far I have gotten the go ahead from our early career development folk that the peer-mentors and course alumni can use this role as part of their own career development.

If you can see any pitfalls in this or have any tips of how to prepare the peer mentors, please let me know.

*Now that assessment is over and I got ethics extension I am able to say that this was clearly my observational bias, we did reach the learners! However, the learner experience could have been better!

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