Both our undergraduate degrees focus heavily on developing students’ skills.
The traditional “sage on the stage” model of education isn’t a terribly effective way of achieving that goal, which is why we’ve implemented a faculty-wide program of skills coaching, or “guides on the side”.
Small groups of students (ideally between 10 and 12) meet regularly with their skills coaches to evaluate their progress in developing a set of named skills. Prior to each meeting students reflect on development of a skill. They document their reflection in MyPharm, the eportfolio arm of COMeT and receive structured feedback from their skills coach
In much the same way as professional athletes work with their coaches, students and skills coaches reflect on their experience, discuss what it has taught them, and formulate strategies and set goals to enhance each skill.
Which skills are we coaching?
The skills students are learning aren’t designed to stay in the classroom or live in a textbook. Students are also learning:
- how to solve complex problems in the workforce
- employ innovative thinking in a laboratory, social, business or clinical environment
- how to work collaboratively in multi-disciplinary teams
- how to become leaders in their respective fields.
To that end our coaches work with students to develop a set of defined skills, the precise make-up of which depends upon the course.
These skills are: Problem-solving, Oral communication, Written communication, Empathy, Reflective practice, Integrity, Teamwork and Inquiry, referred to by the handy mnemonic POWER IT Inq.
Skills coaches challenge students to think about their skills development, what they’re doing well and how they can improve.
These skills coaches are either academics from within the Faculty or practitioners from the sector students will be joining. They provide feedback, and students commit to a measurable action that can be assessed at their next meeting. Skills coaches meet with students at least three times a semester, ensuring that students are not only learning, but always improving and reflecting.