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theory on #coaching

February 7, 2015


Generating theory on coaching in this study depends on qualitative research and draws on an interpretive approach applying grounded theory (Creswell, 2007; Denzin & Lincoln, 2011; Marshall & Rossman, 1999; O’Donoghue & Punch, 2003; Silverman, 2000). It will make a substantial contribution by undertaking narrative inquiry with participants involved in coaching practices at the local level.

For the purpose of the study, coaching is defined as

a nonjudgmental process of mediation applied to those human life encounters, events, and circumstances that can be seized as opportunities to enhance one’s own and another’s resourcefulness (Costa & Garmston, 2002, p. 29).

Data gathering will take place using interviews with staff. Four guiding questions will inform the research:

  1. What are the aims or intentions of staff in regard to coaching? What reasons do they give for these intentions?
  2. What strategies do staff say they have for realising their aims and intentions and what reasons do they give for utilising those strategies?
  3. What do the staff see as the significance of their aims or intentions, and their strategies and what reasons can they give for this?
  4. What outcomes do staff expect from pursuing their aims or intentions and what reasons can they give for this?

The goal of the research then becomes the description and analysis of coaching contexts, interactions between coach and coachee, and processes of coaching in public secondary schools in Perth, Western Australia.



Concerns regarding quality of teaching practices, teacher education and professionalism, have persisted for more than forty years within a global context of scrutiny and ongoing policy review evaluating teaching development, standards and performance, while a concerted macro-level improvement agenda simultaneously draws on linkage between quality teaching and improved student achievement in order to enact effective change strategies (AITSL, 2013; Barber & Mourshed, 2007; Hattie, 2003; MCEETYA, 2008; OECD, 2011).

In the midst of complex dynamics, diversity of contexts, and continued criticism, contestation prevails (Louden, 2008; Sachs, 2001). These are shifting landscapes which teachers are forced to make meaning within (Clandinin, 2010). Thus, in the realm of narrative construction – stories told about these experiences – what is explored has

historical, moral, emotional, and aesthetic dimensions (Clandinin et al, 2006, p. 6).

Teaching arts are conceived as complex, and it is understood that, with continuing practice, the neophyte will improve over time to achieve mastery (Gladwell, 2008). However, orderly progression is not clear or guaranteed, and research cites a tendency of beginning teachers to criticise teacher preparation programs rather than role complexity as the main cause of problems in their first years of teaching (Louden, 2008).

Since improvements occur within a community of practice (Wenger, 2000) and, more specifically, through feedback mechanisms, processes of enhanced feedback can be seen as significant mechanisms by which improvements can effectively be achieved.

Individual perspectives on what this means in practice will inevitably differ.


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Selected references

AITSL. (2013). Professional learning for school effectiveness in Australia: What does it take? Retrieved September 10, 2014

Barber, M. & Mourshed, M. (2007). How the world’s best performing school systems come out on top. London: McKinsey & Company. Retrieved September 28, 2014

Clandinin, D.J. (2010). Sustaining teachers in teaching. Teachers and Teaching: theory and practice, 16(3), 281-283.

Clandinin, D. J., Huber, J., Huber, M., Murphy, M. S., Murray Orr, A., Pearce, M., & Steeves, P. (2006). Composing diverse identities: Narrative inquiries into the interwoven lives of children and teachers. London: Routledge.

Costa, A.L. & Garmston, R.J. (2002). Cognitive coaching: A foundation for renaissance schools. Victoria, Australia: Hawker, Brownlow Education.

Creswell, J. (2007). Qualitative inquiry & research design: Choosing among five approaches (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Denzin, N.K. & Lincoln, Y.S. (Eds.). (2011). The sage handbook of qualitative research (4th ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Gladwell, M. (2008). Outliers: The story of success. Little, Brown & Co: New York.

Hattie, J. (2003). Teachers make a difference: What is the research evidence?  Paper presented to Australian Council for Educational Research Annual Conference. Melbourne, 19–21 October. Retrieved September 15, 2014

Louden, W. (2008).  101 damnations: the persistence of criticism and the absence of evidence about teacher education in Australia. Teachers and Teaching: Theory and practice, 14(4), 357-368.

Marshall, C. & Rossman, G.B. (1999). Designing qualitative research (3rd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

MCEETYA. (2008). Melbourne declaration on educational goals for young Australians. Retrieved September 12, 2014

O’Donoghue, T. & Punch, K. (Eds.). (2003). Qualitative educational research in action: Doing and reflecting. RoutledgeFalmer: London and New York.

OECD. (2011). Building a high quality teaching profession: Lessons from around the world. International summit on the teaching profession. New York: OECD Publishing. Retrieved September 12, 2014

Sachs, J. (2001). Teacher professional identity: Competing discourses, competing outcomes, Journal of Educational Policy, 16(2), pp. 149-161. Retrieved August 16, 2014

Silverman, D. (2000). Doing qualitative research: A practical handbook. Sage: London.

Wenger, E. (2000). Communities of practice and social learning systems. Organization, 7(2), 225-246.

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