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Academic Coaching Needs to be a Thing

It's so strange. Academic study is so easy (believe me, I've an MA and a PhD - and if I can get them, most can) - and ye

t almost no time is spent on the vast majority of online OR face-to-face courses in grounding people in study skills.

It's like the first job you get - you learn so much by making avoidable and unpleasant mistakes. It's unnecessary and distinctly un-fun. There's a better way, but universities and most training providers aren't coming anywhere close to delivering it.

And I am not saying that learners need hours or days of Study Skills Seminars - rather just some of the key things that are needed to make understanding what an assignment is looking for (essay question, project, dissertation or thesis). This can be done in MINUTES: just so long as the lecturer understands that the learner can only make real progress once they have the tools to build confidence, dissolve psychological barriers and be efficient.

For example, referencing: so many people fear this ..... and yet the basics can be taught in 3 minutes or less .... when my students (mostly mature, military distance-learners) see it broken down into its basics they cannot believe just how simple and intuitive referencing is (Hills 2020a: 1).

And when it comes to de-composing an essay question or creating a research question for a dissertation - folk generally have very little chance of finding these tasks as pleasurable and straightforward as they could be.

Those of us who have been lucky enough to have benefited from training in the fundamentals of making study easy (yes, that's the tagline of my alter ego: The Academic Pirate) have much to share. The offer of "Academic Coaching" is new. Whilst motivational speakers and mindfulness folk speak in riddles and truisms - "Decide, Act, Deliver, Profit" - these are like astrology. Some of the people in the room will get resonances as some Geminis will get resonances from the generalised nature of an astrological prediction.

But to REALLY do academic study justice - and by that I mean triumph at it - you need two things.

  1. Singular confidence in your intellect - which is to be acquired by mentoring by another with genuine experience and excellence in pragmatic academic success, and

  2. A tool-set to enable you to know how to smash any assignment, such as an essay. Structure, definitions, key quotes, references, logic, individuality, presentation ....

Generally speaking, most academics ensure that their customers are kept lacking in confidence (and therefore dependent on them for reassurance and showing appropriate deference for their 'Great Mind') AND don't provide any substantive feedback or counsel in terms of essay planning, how to swiftly 'gut' a book or key text, how to manage your data (paper or digital), the deployment of power quotes, what you need to show to have a chance at a 1st or Distinction .... and so on.

I'm breaking with that. Many cohorts of my learners have and continue to benefit from a customer-centred approach to support: Academic Coaching. It's all about helping you to find your feet, your own voice, your individual furrow to plough. It's being there to transfer skills, hints and hacks and enable you to achieve your very fullest potential entirely through your own efforts. And of course, the apprentice can become the Master of (Business Administration) at some speed!

++ Feel free to follow me on my PodCast on all things 'making study easy' here and my YouTube channel here ++

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