Date of Award

12-2016

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)

First Advisor

Jennifer Putnam

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to contribute to the limited body of research on the factors that impact the ability of instructional coaches to be highly effective in their multi-faceted roles. Specifically, the study examined the perceptions of instructional coaches regarding the effectiveness of varied professional learning experiences in addressing their own professional development needs and how instructional coaches interpreted their role and function as well as the knowledge and skills they deemed essential in performing their duties.

This mixed- methods study was conducted in the Piedmont area of North Carolina, it involved three data collection instruments: a survey was administered to 26 instructional coaches, 10 interviews and two focus group discussions were also conducted, each focus group had four participants. The conceptual framework underpinning the study was Mezirow’s Transformative Learning Theory and the Literature Review focused on the role of coach, best practices for instructional coaches and the professional development needs of coaches.

All of the coaches reported feeling unprepared for the role, that the first year was a steep learning curve and most learning was on-the-job and/or from other coaches. Other emerging themes included: Coaches had no clear consistent role description, the role was multifaceted with a wide range of diverse responsibilities, role conflict negatively impacted coaching activities, and the majority of activities did not involve direct, individual coaching. Overwhelmingly coaches described themselves as relationship builders and helpers with several coaches expressing the need to improve their coaching skills and their knowledge of adult learning theory.