Using Coaching to Improve the Fidelity of Evidence-Based Practices: A Review of Studies

Nov. 10, 2010

Source: Teacher Education and Special Education, v. 33 no. 4, p. 279-299. (November 2010).
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)

The purpose of this review was to summarize studies that examined the effects of coaching on improvements in preservice and in-service teachers' implementation of evidence-based practices.
The authors identified a total of 13 studies from the 20 years of literature they searched.

In general,coaching improved the extent to which teachers accurately implement evidence-based practices such as ClassWide Peer Tutoring, Direct Instruction, Learning Strategies, and Positive Behavior Support in classrooms or practicum settings.

In addition, the studies suggest some critical components of coaching
(a) highly engaged, instructive group training sessions;
(b) follow-up multiple observation(s); and
(c) specific feedback, often including sharing observation data and self-evaluation followed by modeling (i.e., in vivo or outside the classroom).

Measuring changes in teacher performance.

Furthermore, the majority of studies identified a few components of instruction as salient:
(a) presentation of new skills, including modeling and systematic prompting;
(b) guided practice, including multiple opportunities to respond; and
(c) active engagement.
These salient instructional design components suggest the utility of a universal measure of instructional proficiency.

A few studies also provide promising data to support the consequential effects of coaching on improvements in student achievement.

Implications for Practice

The results of this review suggest coaching is a promising practice for promoting high fidelity of evidence-based practices from training settings to real classroom settings.

General Implications for Training Activities
The studies reviewed offer some general guidelines for developing course activities and professional development sessions, as well as specific coaching components.
First, when teachers are learning a new instructional practice, it is advantageous to use a small-group format for instructive sessions (i.e., class sessions, in-services at schools).
Second, prior to coaching, teacher educators should conduct at least one observation to determine with which specific skills the teacher is having difficulty.
Then, feedback and coaching activities should directly target skills that need to be firmed up.

Implications for Preservice Teacher Education
This review suggests that preservice teachers need
(a) high-quality instructive training, including opportunities to "simulate" instruction during course work with feedback from the instructor;
(b) multiple opportunities to practice newly learned strategies with real students; and
(c) individualized observation, feedback, and modeling, including side-byside or supervisory coaching whenever possible.

Implications for In-service Teacher Education
First, trainers should deliver instruction to small groups of teachers whenever possible, to provide multiple opportunities to practice new instructional techniques with corrective feedback from the trainer.
Second, the in-service should be followed by observations.

In summary, the 13 studies reviewed here are consistent with the professional development literature in that they demonstrated the importance of follow-up support. This review offers one effective innovation for teacher educators.

Updated: Jan. 23, 2011