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Coaching for change: Amount of instructional coaching support to transfer science inquiry skills from professional development to classroom practice

James A Houston, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


The use of instructional coaching as a follow-up component to high-quality professional development experiences is being used to improve classroom instruction to meet the requirements of NCLB and promote organizational change. The purpose of this study was to determine the minimum number of coaching sessions necessary to translate new strategies and skills learned during a summer institute into classroom practice. Teachers attended a 2-week summer institute focusing on the development of guided science inquiry as both an instructional strategy as well as a content. During the following school year, teachers implemented a unit lasting approximately 6–8 weeks focusing on the newly learned guided inquiry strategies and skills. Teachers video-recorded their classroom instruction and uploaded their videos to their instructional coach. Both the teacher and the coach reviewed the classroom video prior to meeting for distance-delivered coaching sessions approximately one to two times per week during the unit implementation. Teachers were assigned to an instructional coaches with strong science content knowledge and extensive classroom experience at the level the teachers were implementing their units. Each recorded coaching session was approximately 45 minutes in length and was conducted with a strengths-based skills approach. Coaching sessions continued until coaching support was jointly terminated by the teacher–coach pair. Findings in this study suggest that the teachers need a minimum of eight to nine coaching sessions to begin to effectively implement inquiry approaches into their instructional practice. These conclusions came from two sources of data: (a) teacher and coach inquiry teaching confidence measures conducted after each coaching session; and (b) independent coder assessment of teacher performance from two, 4-level inquiry observational rubrics ranging from non-inquiry to exemplary inquiry. The total amount of contact time between teacher and coach was observed from the recorded coaching sessions. Teachers and coaches spent approximately 7 hours in one-to-one coaching sessions during the implementation of their inquiry unit. However, these data suggest no meaningful relationship between contact time and teacher performance.

Subject Area

Educational leadership|School administration

Recommended Citation

Houston, James A, "Coaching for change: Amount of instructional coaching support to transfer science inquiry skills from professional development to classroom practice" (2015). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI3689340.