The Development and Growth of Professional Coaching as an Education Retention Strategy

The Development and Growth of Professional Coaching as an Education Retention Strategy

DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-5948-1.ch001

Abstract

This chapter develops background, data points, research, and literature review context around the factors and the educational environment that led to the identification of processional coaching as a promising retention strategy at post-secondary institutions. The chapter begins with some background on the history of educational coaching and how it was initially defined and then chronicles the development of professional coaching as an educational retention strategy. The chapter briefly discusses the financial impact of low retention both from a student and an institutional perspective. The chapter then looks at graduation rates by institution and surveys online versus face-to-face graduation rates and the growth of online learning and its impact on student retention. There is exploration of how for-profit institutions and their growth created a conducive environment for the design and deployment of professional coaching in the higher education sector. The chapter also investigates how increased participation in higher education led to lower completion rates and how this dynamic eventually led to the development of new and innovative strategies around retention. Some background on the birth and ascension of online degree completion programs also helps to set the stage for later research related to retention and student success and how non-first-time students as the new majority are impacting the post-secondary education marketplace. Learning and motivation challenges for non-first-time students are also introduced and explored within the context of the development of coaching as a retention strategy.
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History Of Coaching And Current Coaching Models

The oldest reference to the type of educational coaching for purposes of this book is an 1880’s reference to tutors helping students study for and prepare for examinations at Oxford University (Bosworth, 2006). The terms “executive coaching” and “life coaching” are much more recent and can be traced back only to the late 1980s, when they first appeared as new, more personalized applications of general counseling techniques and certain therapy approaches (Bosworth, 2006). The International Coach Federation (ICF) began in 1995 when American, Thomas Leonard, called himself a professional coach and formed ICF as a non-profit organization devoted to supporting professional coaching and to growing coaching as a profession (International Coach Federation, 2015).

Similarly, the first references to coaching as an educational service began in 2001, when InsideTrack, a for-profit company headquartered in San Francisco, California, became the first corporate coaching organization to develop specific coaching programs and services targeted to higher education institutions. The purpose for the organization was to improve retention rates and student success scores (InsideTrack, 2015). Over the next decade several other educational coaching and academic mentorship organizations began to develop technology and services for supporting and assisting university level students. Some of the better-known companies that brought retention support products and services to the educational market space from 2001 to 2015 were Aviso, ESM (a wholly owned subsidiary of Xerox), Embanet Compass and the non-profit Educational Testing Services (ETS). However, as of 2017 there are still only a few large independent educational coaching organizations. The small number of independent and third-party coaching organizations is causing some universities to start to develop their own dedicated retention and student success focused coaching departments. Brandman University, announced the formation of a dedicated executive coaching department in April of 2015, and Arizona State University Online is currently developing a similar internal service.

It is also interesting to note that in May of 2017, InsideTrack, a for-profit corporation, was acquired by the Strada Non-Profit Education Network. InsideTrack’s coaching services are now part of the non-profit service suite offered to institutions by the Strada Network, although InsideTrack remains an “independent entity” within the Strada family of service (EdSurge, 2017). In prepared comments on the acquisition, Peter Wheelan, the CEO of InsideTrack said, “As student success has moved to the center of the national conversation on higher education, coaching has emerged as the lynchpin for improving outcomes,” (EdSurge, 2017). Some of the dynamic changes of corporate models within the education marketplace are exemplified by the Strada acquisition of InsideTrack and the realignment of the for-profit company’s business into a non-profit model. The acquisition also highlights the changing customer and partnership relationship for educational services generally, and in the areas of retention and student success coaching specifically.

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