Case Study: Coaching @Lincoln

College LALT
School / Department (list all where collaborative across more than one) Collaborative across UoL
Project / Innovation Title Coaching @Lincoln
Start & End Dates (where applicable) January 2022- June 2022
Project Lead Name Dr Kate Strudwick
Additional Project Team Members Dr Helen Nicholls and Dr Gary Saunders


Coaching @ Lincoln was a reciprocal supportive partnership, developed for academic staff and students at the University of Lincoln in 2021. The scheme had the purpose to support skills holistically at the University, grounded in regular dialogue and applying core foundations of Student as Producer, for building learning and scholarly relationships. The scheme was developed by colleagues from the School of Social and Political Sciences, College of Social Science, and Lincoln Academy of Learning and Teaching (LALT), in Semester B of the Academic year 2021/22.

Drawing upon a strengths-based approach, the partnerships paired staff and students from different schools and disciplines from within the University, providing opportunities for interactive, yet structured, informal support.  The partnership was different to relationships developed in Schools, via personal tutoring and academic staff mentoring, but was focused upon a providing reciprocal benefits that could emerge from partnerships. Coaches were paired to work together to provide mutual, reciprocal support for personal, academic, and professional development, in effect, providing a ‘sounding board’ for one another. This was based around a framework for sharing ideas around research, assessment ideas, teaching and learning strategies, social interaction, and on a broader level to build levels of confidence.

Key results indicated there was a clear building of a relationships between the coaches, with some sessions identifying a specific issue, offering a level of support and structured guidance upon their own experiences. Results demonstrated that sessions had reciprocal benefits for both coaches, with ‘issues’ being discussed within the context that they were presented, revealing positive relationships between the pairings.  There was a cross over between personal/academic lives, with a bond created between them by the end of the sessions.

There was evident parity, in terms of power relations between the student and academic coaches. Issues were presented not as a ‘problem’ in need of a ‘solution’, with a clear level of respect between the pairings.

One benefit seemed to be the informality, shown with the autonomy to raise a myriad of issues, but also a level of formality, as shown with the structure of frameworks applied to formatting sessions. There was a clear flexibility within the sessions, for some the focus was academic coaches’ issues, whilst others addressed student coaches’ issues, or both. This diversity had evident value and appeal on a wellbeing level, acting as a reciprocal support channel for both students and academics.

Overall, sessions represented a ‘sounding board for research’, bringing themes together, whilst also addressing wider interdisciplinary discussions.  The focus led to ‘bouncing ideas back and forth’, with meaningful and supportive feedback, providing ‘constructive problem solving’ advice.

Pairings were purposely mismatched, connecting different Schools.  One coach summed up the positivity “Working with XX was ‘a gift’- I landed a good student”, while another noted how they helped to understand student engagement “to know what helps to keep them interested”.

Key themes identified for effectiveness:

  • The desire to want to be involved in the process.
  • There was a responsibility to make it work and have a positive impact.
  • Need for both student and staff to be ‘in the zone’
  • Need to ensure you have the right time and space to benefit.
  • Sessions to be staggered over the academic year – with a need for an appropriate time and space.
  • Can’t force it – scheme was not a tick box but can develop practice for an institutional meaningful and fulfilling development to support wellbeing and student support.

One coach summed up the scheme stating it was “A really unique opportunity to develop with UoL- how your academic can support individual students”.


Please indicate which category/categories this project/activity aligns with
Academic Experience /
Learning Environment  
Learning Gain  
Student Engagement/ Student as Producer /
Other (please indicate) / A combination of all of the above.