Creating an Individualized Approach to Student Support Through Professional Coaching

Creating an Individualized Approach to Student Support Through Professional Coaching

Tyler L McClain

Assistant Director, Office of Research & Strategic Initiatives, Campus Labs

An in-depth look at the support services provided by the Academic Success Center at Tulane University and specifically explore how the success coaching program provides individualized support through coaching. Tulane Success Coaching allows students to explore their values, beliefs, and habits in a coaching context and connect how their personal attributes translate to academic success. Also gain insight into the coaching model, student referral methods, data collection/outcomes, and student testimonials.

The Agenda

  • History of our department
  • Overview of the coaching profession
  • Coaching at Tulane
  • Program Outcomes

We hope that by the end you will know the progression and implementation of Tulane’s success programming, have gained a general understanding of the coaching profession and credentialing bodies, and are familiar with Tulane success coaching’s referral process, coaching model and meeting structure. As well as an understanding of Tulane’s method of data collection and how success coaching has impacted student outcomes.

Tulane University

Tulane University is a private institution that was founded in 1834. It has a total undergraduate enrollment of 8,353. Tulane is home to schools and colleges offering undergraduate, graduate, and professional degrees in architecture, business, science and engineering, law, liberal arts, medicine, public health and tropical medicine, and social work. It is a private, mid-size university located in the heart of New Orleans. Students are typically traditional aged, mostly from out of state, primarily the northeast. Tulane has a competitive admissions process, which means that a high achieving population exists and is often used to being a big fish in a small pond. Additionally, students are often used to having a lot of parental support and academic resources. All of these factors often make for a challenging adjustment period. Along with coming to a new part of the country, taking on new responsibilities, and maybe for the first time, being a small fish in a big pond.

Success Programming

Before we discuss our coaching program, we wanted to share with you the programs fall under our success umbrella. We will start with peer tutoring, under that we have tutoring ,writing, as well as peer coaching supports that are offered for all students in undergraduate programs. Supplemental Instruction is a unique program where undergraduate students who have taken a specific course and performed well; sit in on class lectures and act as a support system for students taking the course. They also hold review sessions outside of regular class time to provide students opportunities to clarify concepts and grow their knowledge. Success coaching, which is the foundation for the content to follow. All of our professional coaches work from a unique model and hold credentials that allow them to support students in a different way than other offices are able to do on campus. Academic recharge, which is somewhat spin off from our coaching program. Success coaching is usually full by the 2nd week of classes. Therefore, academic recharge was created to support students that may be struggling at the mid-semester point and need support getting on track. Academic recharge is similar to coaching; however, it is somewhat more direct and students are only guaranteed 1 – 3 meetings. Recharge students are given first priority to join the success coaching program the following semester. Next we have merit scholarships, this is a program where coaches partner with students on probation using a motivational interviewing approach to support students in developing plans that lead to academic success. Lastly, we have the resilience cooperative. Through this initiative, we work with students to develop resilience natures so they can think strategically when faced with adversity. We find that resilience is at the foundation of a lot of the work we do with students and the cooperative supports us creating large programming to impact students across campus.

Coach Training

All Coaches hold advanced degrees and receive an International Coach Federation (ICF) coach credential. ICF is the goal standard in coach credentialing; they continue to increase the rigor in the coach certification process, involving at a minimum 60 hours of coaching courses, which includes a practicum. Other requirements include 100 hours of logged coaching, 10 hours mentor coaching, an oral assessment and the coach knowledge assessment on core competencies. This all takes around a year to complete. ADHD coaches educate and lend support toward self-management strategies that minimize ADHD challenges and optimize strengths.

Assessing Fit for Coaching Services

Since coaching is very different from other services on campus, we have to ensure that students have a clear understanding of coaching and what their role is in the process. Assessing fit is done at the start of the coaching process and continues to occur throughout meetings. The reason we say it continues is because students are always evolving and learning more about themselves throughout coaching; therefore, it is vital that coaches and students remain on the same page.

One way we describe fit to students as well as stakeholders in thought Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs. If a student is experiences emotional turmoil or feel like they are in a state where they can move forward and need to explore the emotional past, counseling would an appropriate fit. Coaching is an appropriate fit when students are in a place to set goals and move forward but need support in doing so. This could look like building awareness, develop self-autonomy and essentially the higher sections of Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs. We often think of counseling as those most basic building blocks and coaching lives in higher up the graph where students are engaging in critical thinking skills, developing who they want to be, and what their values are.

Another important pieces of assessing coaching fit is student’s desire for growth. If a student is applying for coaching because their parents are pressuring them or some outside force is motivating them, they often do not get as much out of the process. Students who are intrinsically motivated to do well and open to self-exploration and trying new ideas often have the most positive impact. For this reason, we prefer to have students nominate themselves for the program and coaching is never mandatory.

Framework for Success Coaching

Within our coaching model, there are a few various theories that we pull from. The foundation of our framework is to help students become self-aware and autonomous individuals identifying and achieving personal goals.

  • ICF Core Competencies
  • Strengths-Based Approaches
  • Positive Psychology
  • ADD Coach Academy
  • Neurodiversity
  • Growth Mindset
  • Motivational Interviewing

In terms of the ICF core competencies, they are always present and represent the foundation of our coaching meetings. Therefore, coaches aim to never give students advice or tell students what to do. We always want to be encouraging students to think critically and explore their own thoughts and ideas. Also as coaches, we never put our own values on students. We work from place of open and honest curiosity that support students in making decision for themselves. While we stay true to ICF core competencies, we also pull from other theories depending on where the student is at. So within the broad scheme of coaching, we have worked to include various models that target common concerns or discussion that often arising in our coaching students.

Data Collection Methods

Data is collected through multiple methods and at different times throughout the semester. Data is analyzed at the end of each academic year. Students are asked to complete a success coaching application prior to their meeting, after each meeting coaches code the actual reasons why students are seeking coaching. We utilize this data to cross analyze the stated reasons for why students are attending coaching with the actual reasons they share during their coaching session.

I have developed a stronger sense of self through working with a Success Coach. I have a newfound confidence in my abilities and individuality. Not to sound too cheesy, but Success Coaching has made me feel awesome about myself.

Benefits of Coaching

Students are asked to complete a post-survey towards the end of their time with the success coaching program. In this survey students are asked what their biggest takeaway is from their time spent with coaching program. One of the main benefits of coaching students are gaining from the program is self-efficacy or a sense of self. This is particularly powerful because it’s what makes the coaching program so unique, it may even be the first time students have true autonomy over their decision making and are challenged around their self-awareness.

GPA Change

Typically we meet with students weekly or bi-weekly, but our data helped inform a new approach to structuring our meetings. By comparing student GPA change to number of meetings attended, helped us identify when coaching becomes most effective in regards to GPA change. When students experience 5-8 meetings we see that upward GPA trend, therefore we started setting the expectation with students in that initial meeting that we would be aiming for between 5-8 meetings, which often ends up being bi-weekly. Keep in mind that not every student’s goal is around GPA improvement, this is just one outcome we looked at.


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About the Presenter

Krista Casale is a Success Coach at Tulane University. She received her undergraduate degree in Family and Community Services and her graduate degree in Counselor Education from East Carolina University. Krista started her career off as a school counselor. For three years, she supported a local public school in Greenville, North Carolina by developing a comprehensive school counseling program that targeted social, emotional, and academic needs. She also oversaw the process that identified students for special education services by implementing academic and behavioral interventions to aid students in the general education classroom. Krista moved to New Orleans in July of 2014 and began her position as a Success Coach at Tulane University. Krista completed her ADHD Coach Training through ADDCA and is a Certified Life Coach through the International Coach Federation. Krista loves working with students to explore holistic approaches to wellness that include healthy thinking patterns and finding balance between values, beliefs, and goals. She began the Resilience Cooperative at Tulane and has an interest in supporting students in developing resilient natures that lead to self-fulfillment and authentic lifestyles.

Karen Hochheiser’s co-curricular experiences as an undergraduate student were so rewarding that she decided to pursue a career working with college students and completed a Master of Arts in Higher and Postsecondary Education at the University of Michigan. In June 2010, Karen moved to New Orleans and started her career at Tulane University as a Health Educator at the Center for Wellness and Health Promotion. In this role, Karen used Motivational Interviewing to work with undergraduate students one-on-one around their experiences with alcohol and other drugs, and she developed a passion for honing her communication skills so she could most effectively support each student. When the Success Coaching program started on campus, she was immediately drawn to the program’s mission and the opportunity to continue working with students in an individualized way that covered multiple facets of their lives. She transitioned to her current role as a Success Coach in July 2013 and became the Manager of Motivational Interviewing and Success Coach Training in January 2015. She is still dedicated to utilizing best practices in effective communication to create a coaching environment that supports the student as the expert and encourages personal growth, confidence and autonomy. Karen is a member of the Motivational Interviewing Network of Trainers (MINT) and is an Associate Certified Coach through the International Coach Federation.

Tyler L McClain

Assistant Director, Office of Research & Strategic Initiatives, Campus Labs

Dallas, TX