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An investigation into the benefits of peer coaching: Students supporting students

There have been many studies carried out which investigate the concepts of coaching and mentoring (Lu, 2010) but there is often confusion between the two models as no clear classification between coaching and mentoring is provided (Fletcher, 2007). This highlights the importance of finding a definition of coaching or mentoring that fits the particular aim of the situation or study. The peer coaching partnerships in this study are reciprocal relationships with another person where issues can be discussed, goals set and solutions found (Robertson, 2005). These relationships develop into ones based on trust and respect where effective and open dialogue is established (Buzbee-Little, 2005; Robertson 2005; Slater & Simmons, 2001). This mixed methods research is located in the tertiary education sector where a group of student teachers studying on a field-based initial teacher education programme (Early Childhood Education) are about to set out on a peer coaching journey. Students undertaking a field-based programme of study face somewhat different pressures to their pre-service colleagues. One of the main differences is the fact that most students undertaking field-based training in early childhood education also work in the early childhood settings where the complete their practicum’s (the practical competent of the training programme) for up to four days per week (Bell, 2004; Kane, Burke, Cullen, et al., 2005). Within this practicum setting it is often difficult for students to differentiate between when they are wearing their ‘student hat’ and when they are wearing their ‘employee hat’. One of the benefits of a peer coaching partnership for field-based initial teacher education students could be extra support from someone who is facing the same situation outside of the tertiary provider. The participant’s peer coaching stories are told through narratives as they embark on their peer coaching journeys, continue on these journeys as peer coaching in action and then reach the conclusion of this phase of their peer coaching partnerships. The research investigates how students are supported at tertiary level when involved in peer coaching partnerships and whether both partners identify the same benefits. The factors which the participants think are important to maintain successful peer coaching partnerships are also examined. Previous studies have found many benefits of peer coaching. These include being able to give something back, providing encouragement and support and learning from each other, and are well documented in the coaching literature as being consistent benefits of peer coaching (Anderson, Barksdale, & Hite, 2005; Donegan, Ostrosky & Fowler, 2000; Swafford, 1998). This study, however, indicates that there are other benefits of being involved in a peer coaching partnership as a tertiary student. Having someone to ask the ‘silly’ questions, increased communication skills, the importance of training and pairings and the use of technology to enhance the partnerships were all identified as benefits by the participants. It is evident that there are significant benefits for tertiary students to be involved in a peer coaching partnership, and in fact that these relationships can contribute to successful study and student retention. By providing another means of support for tertiary students in a field-based initial teacher education programme retention rates can be increased. The participants in this study all agreed that peer coaching is an effective support network for tertiary students if the right training is given, if students are involved for the right reasons and if pairings are made thoughtfully by the facilitator.
Type of thesis
Hooker, T. A. (2011). An investigation into the benefits of peer coaching: Students supporting students (Thesis, Master of Education (MEd)). University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/6022
University of Waikato
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