“A student's self-esteem has a significant impact on almost everything she does -- on the way she engages in activities, deals with challenges, and interacts with others. Self-esteem also can have a marked effect on academic performance. Low self-esteem can lessen a student's desire to learn, her ability to focus, and her willingness to take risks. Positive self-esteem, on the other hand, is one of the building blocks of school success; it provides a firm foundation for learning” - Dr. Ken Shore
Academic coaching is focused on helping students achieve their academic goals through goal setting, encouragement, motivation, structure, and individualized meetings. Available for students in Grade 9 through postsecondary, Evoke academic coaches support clients to help them establish those goals, define their learning objectives, find their own solutions, and follow their plans through to completion. Students are supported in experimenting and practicing with approaches and strategies to help them identify what works best for them. Depending upon individual student needs, coaches may also provide education about executive function (EF) and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
Coaching techniques are often effective for students who struggle academically; individuals diagnosed with learning disabilities, ADHD, and/or giftedness; and students with extraordinary goals. Coaching is student-driven, based on each student’s definition of success. Coaches serve as facilitators of that success, helping students draw upon their own self-understanding and resourcefulness to create systems that will work for them. The techniques used in coaching often provide students with the balance of support and challenge they need in order to learn. Many students respond more positively to coaching techniques than to traditional learning strategies. Simply put, coaching paves the way for learning to occur.
The academic coaching process involves an initial appraisal of student goals and the skills needed to achieve them. Central to the coaching effort is regular contact to set weekly academic goals, identify roadblocks or challenges to achieving those objectives, and create a plan of action aligned with the goals. Ultimately, academic coaching increases self-awareness that allows students to dig deeper to discover what is getting in the way for them, and provides the support and focus required to persevere at studies, complete a degree, and effectively manage transitions.
Academic coaching increases self-awareness, improves the overall learning experience for the student, and focuses on the development of a set of skills that will serve an individual throughout their career and in life. The process enriches the student experience by elevating their engagement, and ideally impacts student retention rates at college or university.
Effective academic coaching closes the gap between ability and achievement. It helps the student understand their individual learning preferences, negotiate their deficits, and manage their exceptionality. In addition, coaching can offer these benefits:
Students come to coaching for help in these areas:
Our brains are hardwired to resist change, relying on patterns, and reacting to deviations in the same way they would respond to a physical threat. That’s why the changes in our lives often generate a strong emotional or physical response.
Habits are formed through recurring actions that lead to a reward. Physiologically, they form because signals travel down the same neural pathways repeatedly. The brain tires easily, so it favours repetition and energy conservation. Unfortunately, once automated behaviours are anchored, they do not command the brain’s attention. Unproductive and harmful habits become ingrained. To achieve long-lasting change, the brain must create new neural connections. This is where Effective Academic Coaching can be helpful.
Academic coaches are professionally trained to help guide students through change by raising their self-awareness, leading them through the process of unlocking their natural resourcefulness and creativity, and inspiring them to meet their potential. Academic coaching is the process of helping individual students examine their approach to learning, academic strengths, concerns, and perceived barriers to success. It focuses on the student’s personal and academic goals through the development of self-awareness; strength-building; academic planning; and the student’s sense of purpose, interests, and values.
The goal of Effective Academic Coaching is to promote strategy, initiative, and success. Academic coaches work collaboratively with students to help identify ways to change current study strategies and self-care to create stronger outcomes. They provide support, structure, and accountability while expanding the client’s understanding of possible resources. Client and coach together explore strengths, talents, tools, and new learning to increase the student’s self-awareness and self-confidence. Together they design strategies and actions, monitoring progress toward goals. Academic coaching helps students become stronger learners, making choices and changes with confidence.
Academic success involves more than just understanding material; it means becoming aware of ineffective habits and approaches to learning. Academic coaching in Canada does not focus on teaching content but instead prioritizes helping students identify and solve their own challenges. Academic coaches focus on the skills that enable a student’s success, not on the content needed to succeed in an academic subject or program. Coaching is about the skills that surround the curriculum and understanding how we learn and what we need for success. It explores the conditions someone needs for inspiration and learning as well as the strategies and tools they require.
An academic coach serves as a connection to resources, tools, and strategies that can support the student’s overall success. They work with students to encourage and assist with goal setting, self-understanding, and behavioural change. Coaches meet individually with their students at regularly scheduled times for the duration of the coaching to create an atmosphere of support and accountability. The coach becomes familiar with the student's perspectives to help advance their learning, well-being, and success, building trust through active listening, genuine curiosity, and effective observation and communication.
The academic coach helps students work smarter, not harder. They require students to take responsibility for their learning and encourage self-direction and autonomy. The coach's role is to assist the student in determining what they will do versus telling them what to do. This transfer of control from coach to student unlocks the student’s motivation to act. Students are more likely to take the initiative on things they have chosen for themselves than on advice or instruction from others. It is the coach’s role to help students identify outcomes and goals for the coaching process, what they could do differently to reach their goals, and what they are willing to change to meet them.
Academic coaches look to four potential areas to help students find solutions: strengthening executive functions, developing learning strategies, implementing assistive technology, and supporting the student. Effective Academic Coaching increases self-awareness, helping students explore and identify obstacles. Students determine what they want, what they could do differently to achieve it, and what they are willing to change to achieve their goals and improve academic performance. In between sessions, the coach will ask the student to complete specific actions that will contribute to achieving their goals. With a strong plan and regular check-ins to extend accountability, students can move their plan into action and start to close the gap between intentions and behaviours.
Coaches focus on helping students understand their personal strengths and how to use them effectively.
Students who believe they can succeed and become successful enjoy greater academic performance and achievement (Andrew, 1998; Bandura and Locke, 2003; Majer, 2009; Cardoso et al., 2013; Dutta et al., 2019; Travis and Bunde, 2020). Such an outlook is one of the strongest predictors of academic achievement (Richardson et al., 2012) and can increase effort, persistence, and academically-oriented behaviours (Multon et al., 1991; Schunk, 1991, 2001; Bandura, 1997; Zepke et al., 2010), lower test anxiety (Kitsantas et al., 2008; Nie et al., 2011), and increase enrollment in challenging courses (Eccles et al., 1998).
Your academic coach can help you:
Coaching sessions are one-to-one and held virtually on regular days and times each week; the process requires a minimum commitment of four hours per month. Session requirements include a computer or tablet with a strong internet connection, webcam, headset or earbuds, and quiet space with limited distractions.
Once the student’s learning areas are identified and goals established, they are encouraged to initiate. The student provides an update on their actions and learning and together, coach and student discuss the goal, results, successes, areas for improvement, and what can be done differently next time.
Between academic coaching sessions, the coach may request that the student complete specific actions that will contribute to their goals and encourage the student to check in with them. The coaching process is organic and responds to student progress. It is a long-term commitment with results that unfold over time. Change requires effort, resilience, planning, and support. It means resisting well-established behaviours and working against automatic brain processes.
Evoke offers 30-, 45-, and 60-minute appointments for students in Grade 7 through postsecondary school. The ultimate focus of each meeting is to influence positive academic performance and continued personal growth.