What is the impact of pre-service coaching on teacher candidate’s skills?

November 10, 2020

Teacher coaching in a simulated environment. This paper looks at whether providing coaching between practice sessions in teacher education courses leads to the more rapid development of skills and changes in teachers’ beliefs about student behavior, using mixed-reality simulations as a practice space and standardized assessment platform. The authors randomly assigned 105 prospective teachers to different coaching conditions between simulation sessions integrated into a teacher preparation program. 

The study attempts to answer two critical questions: (1) Does an increase in coaching supports (both dosage and type) lead to more significant improvements in candidates’ practice from one simulation to the next. (2). Will coaching supports also alter candidates’ perceptions of student behaviors and appropriate “next-steps” for addressing such behaviors, even though the coaching protocols do not directly target candidates’ beliefs and behavior plans for students. The study provides causal evidence about how to quickly improve essential teaching skills in the context of an education classroom management course, an important and understudied topic in general education teacher preparation literature. In addition to demonstrating that short coaching sessions can dramatically improve candidates’ redirection skills, the authors find significant coaching effects on candidates’ perceptions of student behavior and ideas about the next steps for addressing perceived behavioral issues. 

In summary, coached candidates had substantial and considerable improvements in skills relative to those who only reflected on their teaching. This research indicates that repeated practice opportunities alone may not improve teaching skills as efficiently and effectively as coaching between sessions. Without outside support, self-reflection can have potentially harmful effects. Findings suggest that skills with which novices struggle can improve with coaching and do not have to be learned “on the job.”

Citation: Cohen, J., Wong, V., Krishnamachari, A., & Berlin, R. (2020). Teacher coaching in a simulated environment. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis42(2), 208-231.