- Coaching for researcher development
- Why coaching for researcher development?
Why coaching for researcher development?
Coaching for researchers, as defined by the Vitae Coaching Project Working Group (a result of Vitae Connections), is:
‘ a collaborative relationship between a coach and researcher that aims to unlock the researcher's potential to maximise their performance, learning, and development ’
Research and approaches to delivering researcher development change. Policy imperatives from the European Union and national UK policy point towards the goals of producing high quality and high impact research, while supporting researchers to become highly skilled and adaptable to the different demands of academia and the commercial world.
The power of coaching, as an approach to support the development of researchers, lies in the opportunity it affords to work across a range of levels, from specific skills development, to focusing on key areas of performance, to more generalised development of the researcher. It can therefore add value as part of an institution's overall provision for researcher development.
Coaching offers the potential to enhance the researcher experience, benefitting both the economy, through the delivery of high quality and high impact research, while also enhancing the employability, health and well-being, and retention of researchers by:
- providing a bridge to the wide ranging training and development required for those areas identified in the Vitae Researcher Development Framework (RDF)
- embedding skills, learnt through generic training and development, into an individual's everyday research practice
- addressing the multifaceted and layered issues that may inhibit performance and the uptake of new skills, knowledge and development
- offering a form of cross-institutional support, for example through an ability to be delivered via telecommunications/web technology coaching programmes, could be offered for researchers at different institutions.
Coaching helps the following groups in different ways:
- For individual researchers, coaching can build confidence in research performance as well as in the development of wider skills
- For supervisors and managers who are under increased pressure, there is a need for researchers with increased ability to deliver and manage their work and to build competences in the skills identified by the Researcher Development Framework
- For higher education institutions wishing to meet the demands of the Concordat to Support the Career Development of Researchers, address issues of retention and completion, support gorwing numbers of international students and under pressure to increase research performance again, an approach that encourages the development of researcher effectiveness and employability could not be more timely
See quotes from coachees on how coaching can help.
One study reports on the success of cognitive behavioural coaching at Flinders University, Australia ('Innovation in PhD completion: the hardy shall succeed (and be happy?)', Kearns et al 2008). The aim of the programme was to teach postgraduate researchers the underlying cognitive strategies and attitudes needed to complete their doctorate on time, reduce stress, manage their time and workload better, and generally improve their psychological hardiness and resilience. The authors argue these self-management skills not only help postgraduate researchers to complete their doctorate more quickly with less distress, but also to impact positively on their long-term career and life goals. The authors argue that by addressing emotional issues such as anxiety, fear of failure, perfectionism and procrastination, participants felt they were able to improve specific behaviours and felt more confident about their ability to complete.