Educational Coaching In 4th Grade of Secondary Education: A Case Study
Improving the quality of training activities carried out in schools requires establishing the evaluation process to be used to validate them (Guba and Lincoln, 1981; Kirkpatrick, 2004; Korthagen, Loughran and Russell, 2006; Stufflebeam and Shinkfield, 2005). In last years, a greater emphasis has been placed on vocational guidance within the educational guidance context. Vocational guidance is one of the basic context for the school counsellor at all education stages, especially in the Secondary Education. In this educational stage, the students face different decision-making processes. All of them are critical for their academic and professional future and for their personal development (Bisquerra, 2012; Cano et al., 2013).
Strategies used in order to implement the training processes in guidance context are diverse. In this research we have focused on the educational coaching supported by the information and communication technologies (ICT) following recent technological approaches (Bat, 2010; Bou, 2013; and Repetto and Malik, 2006).
Educational coaching is followed up with accompaniment tasks aiming to encourage the reflective processes among students, and enhance students themselves to be the managers of their own learning processes, including decision-making processes (Gaëtan, 2012; Malagón, 2011; Cushion, Armour and Jones, 2003). This methodological approach becomes students into main active actors of their own guidance process (Sanchez Mirón and Boronat Mundina, 2014).
This approach leads the guidance departments of the centers to rethink the methodology that they have to develop aiming to give priority to the students to be the starters of the academic and professional processes by themselves. This approach should provide students with a greater level of autonomy and improved skills to make their own decisions. It implies that counsellors must adapt their role to the specifically established rules on the current regulations about guide, support, and supervision in the guidance process (Bat, 2010; Bou, 2013; and Slater, Simmons, 2001).
Before developing the educational coaching program, a study of needs assessment was carried out at a secondary education institute in Oviedo (Asturias-Spain) to establish the intervention. This analysis was proposed as a case study for needs assessment on guidance in 4th grade of secondary education. The study show us academic and vocational guidance only takes place at specific moments, not as a continuous process, nor is it posed from multidisciplinary approaches. The students of secondary centers ask individually for advice and guidance on learning topics, specially in the last year of secondary education (Manzano, 200; Slater and Simmons, 2001).
The guidance program here presenting, called “Guide-yourself”, is focused on the significance of the self-knowledge for a responsible decision-making. The program has been developed among the 4th grade of Secondary students through collaborative and multidisciplinary strategies by the educational departments of the highschool center by using ICT applied to guidance as operative element of the training activity.
“Guide-yourself” is focused on several intervention areas: self-knowledge, awareness of context opportunities, and decision-making in order to design, at the end of the process, a personalized life project. The intervention program is carried out through coaching sessions in small groups, in order to listen and guide people. All share their own experiences and their different points of view with the group.
This proposal focuses on reaching the following objectives: Be aware of the personal, academic, and professional characteristics, in order to encourage the decision-making process; Identify the own interests, skills and motivations; Determine the future academic options according to their own interests, aptitudes and competences; Analyse the professional interests, skills, and preferences of the students; Encourage a conscient decision-making adapted to their own personal characteristics; and Develop support strategies within the families on their children’s decision-making processes.
Target population of the developed intervention were 59 students from 4th grade of Secondary Education (15-16 years) and 4 teachers from a public centre located in Oviedo (Asturias, Spain).
The informant agents were 4th grade students (sample N=52 people) from a Secondary Education Center in Oviedo (Asturias) who were divided into four groups: A, B, C, and Diversification. A high percentage of people were students from the group A (33%), followed by the group B (27%). Although they had a lower percentage, information was also gathered from the group of Diversification (23%) and the group C (17%) as well. The students attending this centre are from middle and upper middle-class families.
The study here presented is an exploratory and descriptive case study, developed with an interview methodology, and originated from a reflection work on the needs assessment carried out in a Secondary Education centre. From this study, some specific needs have been identified for the intervention in terms of academic and professional orientation during the Secondary Education stage.
The methodological proposal was based on a multidisciplinary point of view; it is presented as an intervention to be implemented in a holistic way, from the different curricular subjects and, so, implemented by different teachers. During the several stages, a specified number of sessions (ten) were suggested from different subjects: counselling, computing, and ethics. The distinguishing element of the counselling intervention is the computing support, a blog where there could be interactive chats among the different agents involved in the orientation activity.
The instruments used to gather the information were questionnaires “ad hoc” made up by items of open-ended response and Likert scale closed-ended with 4 levels of response (1=strongly disagree, 2=disagree, 3=agree, 4=strongly agree). The questionnaires were distributed to students of 4th grade of Secondary Education, teachers and mentors teaching through the academic year 2015-16 and the staff who are working in the Guidance Department of the Centre. The designed instruments were structured according to the following sections: sociodemographic variables; topics related to the academic and professional guidance that are meant to be treated; and the importance given to the orientation by the involved agents. Quantitative data analysis were performed using the IBM-SPSS program (v.24), and qualitative analysis were performed using the Atlas-ti program.
The results derived from the need assessment analysis were the starting point for the development of this guidance program based on the educational coaching, supported by the information and communication technologies, called “Guide-yourself”.
The large majority of students interviewed were male (60%). The age ranged between 15 and 18 years; the greatest percentage was constituted by 16-years-old students (40.4%), and the lowest was 18-years-old students (3.8%).
This program actively involves different educational agents to work on the support and guidance of the students’ decision-making processes in order to improve the quality of the counselling intervention.
It must be highlighted the following results:
• It is widely stated that there is scarcely any activity related to the career development process during the last year of Secondary Education.
• More than 60% of students say they don’t work on the self-knowledge and knowledge of the others in the classroom.
• More than half of the students and mentors interviewed claim that aspects related to personal attitudes and abilities, as well as the analysis of personal, academic, and professional interests, are not developed.
• The decision-making process is not encouraged in the classroom; more than half of the students say that there isn't any activity to that respect. Topics determining the decision-making process are rarely addressed in class; more than half of the mentors confirm it.
• Almost the 70% of the students say that any personal and professional life project hasn't been developed.
• Mentors and students consider the vocational guidance is crucial in the last stage of the Secondary Education.
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