Coaching to improve self-directed learning

Clin Teach. 2020 Aug;17(4):408-412. doi: 10.1111/tct.13109. Epub 2019 Nov 20.


Background: The continuously changing health care context necesitates that medical trainees develop self-directed learning skills. This study examined the effect of coaching on the self-directed learning process in pre-clerkship medical students.

Methods: We conducted a longitudinal educational intervention using standardised patient assessments to determine the effect of self-assessment, feedback, and coaching on the development and implementation of learning goals (LGs). Students were sorted into control and intervention groups. Following each assessment, students received feedback on performance and created LGs. Students in the intervention group worked with a faculty member coach on their LGs. Students in the control group developed their LGs without a coach. Prior to the final assessment, students reported whether they had implemented their LGs.

Results: Of 171 students enrolled, 167 completed all four assessments and were included. All 167 developed an LG after each assessment. Overall, 79.0% of students reported implementing an LG. Of students receiving coaching, 91.8% implemented an LG, whereas only 65.9% of students in the control group implemented an LG (odds ratio, OR 5.7; 95% confidence interval, CI 2.4-14.2). Students who received coaching were more likely to incorporate performance feedback into their LGs (90.2 versus 38.1%; p < 0.05).

Conclusions: For students, faculty member coaching facilitated better LG development and more frequent implementation compared with students who did not receive coaching.

MeSH terms

  • Education, Medical, Undergraduate* / methods
  • Humans
  • Learning
  • Mentoring* / methods
  • Self-Assessment
  • Students, Medical*