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Birnbaum, Matthew

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The purpose of this study was to explore how trained, four-year success coaches perceive their coaching practice with students in higher education, particularly in the context of their meetings. While coaching programs have proliferated, little is known about coaching as a practice in higher education and it is difficult to generalize findings because professionals are ‘coaching’ in different ways. Some academic coaches in the field have stated they were given a title, but they are not ‘coaching’ (Sepulveda, 2017). Little is known about coaching as a practice, and this study will help to fill this gap. Taking a narrative approach, I used self-determination theory as a lens to explore the perceptions of trained, four-year success coaches to understand what they perceived they strategically do in their meetings with students. I interviewed 18 coaches in higher education across the United States and asked for stories in how they have helped students in each meeting, and throughout their meetings. In this narrative study, I explored how coaches approach their meetings and what skills they incorporate. Through semi-structured interviews I elicited stories of growth, development, and intentionality in their practices. Beliefs, skills, conversational framework, the progression over time, the training, growth, and development and the role make up coaching practices in higher education. It is the consistent combination of these that make the coaching practice a unique student support service. This study builds upon self-determination theory and I draw conclusions about what findings mean for coaching practices in higher education.


320 pages

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