The Student Success Coaching Model



Though not my primary job responsibility, I (Scott) have served as an academic success coach over the past couple decades. Throughout this time, I developed strategies to ensure students who begin struggling early in their professional PA programs are able to alter their course using a few relatively simple methods.


In our recent blog, Incorporating a Student Skills Development Program, we introduced a proven turn-key approach to facilitating student success. This week, we’re taking it further by examining how academic coaching plays a part in student success. We’ll discuss how a Student Success Coaching Model can prove successful in any intensive graduate program by effectively lowering attrition and increasing retention. We’ll also cover the responsibilities of an academic success coach in a professional program.


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The Student Success Coaching Model saves considerable time for individual faculty members; it avoids duplicating academic mentoring and tutoring services. The accountability model is heavily steeped within the academic coach process, making this process highly successful. Because this process is focused on facilitating success, students are treated with dignity and respect.


The Academic Success Coach

Those who take on the role of an academic success coach must be willing to learn educational theory and apply proven practices in student counseling sessions. This requires diligence and logistical thought. Because this work involves a considerable amount of time and energy, academic success coaches should receive workload release for this responsibility.


Key Elements of Incorporating a Student Success Coaching Model

While all PA programs have an advising structure providing support for students, in this model advisors immediately refer students when academic difficulty is detected. For this to occur, a careful documentation process must be in place on the academic counseling sheets. An academic success coach then needs to have a brief summary of the interaction with the advisor.


Key elements of incorporating a Student Success Coaching Model include:

  • Facilitating the prematriculation program. This includes identification of students requiring completion of this program prior to the first day of classes. In addition, identifying which students should complete such a program would be within the realm of the success coach in collaboration with the admissions process

  • Facilitating and overseeing the test self-analysis process. All students who achieve less than 75% on an exam will be required to self - analyze his or her test. After analyzing the incorrect responses students will meet with the specific faculty member to process the results

  • Providing training for new faculty regarding student success remediation skills

  • Reviewing the program’s remediation process for efficacy each year based on analysis of student performance longitudinally

  • Annually providing a series of sessions on student study skills to students during their first semester. These sessions would cover learning styles, organizational skills, time management, metacognitive skills, high-impact study skills, and test-taking skills

  • Providing skills sessions about formative independent study skills and test-taking techniques prior to the clinical year. These sessions are intended to facilitate students transitioning to clinical year testing for nationally standardized examinations, such as EORE, PACKRAT, and the PANCE

  • Meeting with each student determined to be within the “at risk”, “critical risk”, or “fail” category after PACKRAT I. This requires developing an academic improvement plan as a student begins the clinical year

  • Meeting with each student not achieving the minimum score on EORE after each rotation. These sessions provide test-taking remediation and focused study methods to better enhance success

  • Developing and implementing academic improvement plans for students on academic probation. All students on academic probation are required to meet with the success coach at least three times per semester to better monitor student progress toward achieving compliance

  • Facilitating study plans during the second year to prepare students to immediately take the PANCE after graduation

  • Reviewing the parametric analysis of nationally standardized examinations to develop a risk modeling process, allowing the program to identify students who require intensive tutoring prior to graduation. This proven system can result in 100% pass rates if properly implemented

—You can find more information on this topic in Chapter 4 of Learning to Love Data.


Note, these services are not intended to replicate specialized institutional services for students needing accommodation, counseling, and/or other professional services beyond the scope of an academic program.