Reconciling the learning coach role in programmatic assessment for learning

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The Learning Coach (LC) is a core element of programmatic assessment for learning in the Flinders MD program. Students are paired with a LC in their first year and have regular, one-on-one meetings throughout their degree. The purpose of these meetings is to ‘coach’ the student to develop across eight course learning outcomes: scholarship; knowledge; skills; communication; society; self-regulated learning; leadership; and professionalism. This involves supporting the student to make sense of qualitative and quantitative feedback they receive and to formulate learning goals. In between meetings, students are required to maintain an ePortfolio in which they regularly reflect upon their learning in each of the learning outcomes. The ePortfolio is a mechanism by which students derive meaning from evidence of their learning.

Towards the end of each semester, the LC (in collaboration with the student), submits a progress recommendation (i.e., ready/not ready to progress). This involves utilising and reviewing the available evidence (assessment results and the ePortfolio). However, both LCs and students perceive the LC progress recommendation as an ‘assessment’, potentially threatening the role of the LC to move from coach to ‘assessor’. LCs can be reluctant to make unfavourable recommendations for fear of ruining their relationship with the student. How can we reconcile the LC as both coach and contributor to assessment decisions? Can the LC be a coach and an ‘assessor’? If so, how can we help the LC to preserve the relationship despite difficult decision-making? If not, do we need to reconceptualise the role of the LC.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 26 Jul 2019
EventPrideaux Centre for Research in Health Professions Education Annual Symposium: Translating Educational Research into Practice in Health Professions Education - Tonsley Campus, Flinders University, Adelaide, Australia
Duration: 26 Jul 201926 Jul 2019


ConferencePrideaux Centre for Research in Health Professions Education Annual Symposium


  • Assessment
  • Decision-making
  • Relationship management


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