Black Students’ Experiences of Coaching and Mentoring in Higher Education: A Case Study

Hillman, Jennifer; Lochtie, Dave and Purcell, Olivia (2024). Black Students’ Experiences of Coaching and Mentoring in Higher Education: A Case Study. International Journal of Mentoring and Coaching in Education (In Press).



Purpose In this case study, we offer an analysis of feedback from a student experience survey completed by Black undergraduate students who received proactive, targeted coaching and mentoring support during 2021 to 2022. All the students were studying at a large higher education institution in the United Kingdom which offers a broad range of degree courses by distance learning.
Design/methodology/approach This paper reports on the intervention delivered and analyses the student experience of being offered, and receiving, proactive coaching and mentoring. It is based on the responses of 102 students who engaged with the experience survey after having self-selected to receive the intervention. What follows is an analysis of their experiences using a qualitative in vivo approach based on word frequency in students’ free-text comments.
Findings The findings presented are that, in this intervention, students who self-select to receive coaching and mentoring support experience tangible (self-reported) behaviour changes with potentially longer term benefits for their studies. These include improved self-confidence and self-efficacy, increased proactive help-seeking behaviour, greater recognition of strengths and achievement, and personal growth and self-awareness.
Originality/value In presenting this case study, we aim to contribute to the growing corpus of practitioner case studies and research papers that show the benefits of coaching and mentoring in higher education and – more specifically - why coaching and mentoring can be a worthwhile targeted intervention for students from underrepresented backgrounds. This lends support to the growing consensus that students with positive, proactive help-seeking behaviours perform better than students not able to access support (Byrne et al., 2014). We conclude the case study with some practical implications for providers looking to provide targeted support to students.

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