Coaching the Coaches: Using Design-Based Research to Improve the Instructional Skills of Canadian Air Traffic Control On-the-Job Instructors Through Professional Learning
Coaching in air traffic control on-the-job training is challenging and instructor quality can affect outcomes. This qualitative study explored the phenomenon of how instructional coaching can be used as a means of professional learning to help air traffic control on-the-job instructors (OJIs) identify and implement improvements to their instructional practices. The study focused on using coaching to build the capacity of OJIs to provide trainees with effective formative feedback. A three-phase design-based research (DBR) methodology was used to (a) prepare, design, and evaluate a usable professional learning coaching protocol, and (b) contribute theoretical understanding through the development of design principles. Three main findings emerged from this study. First, through iterative testing of the designed coaching protocol, eight key components were identified, including: four process components (learning culture, coaching conversation, adaptable framework, logistical feasibility), and four content components (clarity of expectations, reinforce positives, targeted progression, actionable priorities). These key coaching protocol components formed the basis of a reflective process used to identify a set of theoretical design principles intended as a starting point for others undertaking design studies in similar contexts. Second, the training culture within the unit will either foster or inhibit the OJIs’ engagement with professional learning opportunities and willingness to adopt the coaching protocol. This highlights the necessity for effective leadership and change management in implementing new professional learning initiatives. Third, OJIs must receive adequate training to use the coaching protocol, following professional learning best practices, to effectively influence instructional capacity. The findings of this study have implications for policy and practice. First, a plan should be established to further develop a training culture that supports effective workplace learning for OJIs. Second, OJIs should be provided with initial training and ongoing support on effective use of the coaching protocol. Third, members of the training team should receive ample preparation as instructional coaches to effectively support ongoing OJI development and professional learning. The results of this study will be of interest to those involved in air traffic control training, both in Canada and internationally, as well as to those in other safety-critical industries relying on on-the-job training.
coaching, instructional coaching, professional learning, air traffic control, on-the-job training, workplace learning, design-based research
Dye, C. (2020). Coaching the Coaches: Using Design-Based Research to Improve the Instructional Skills of Canadian Air Traffic Control On-the-Job Instructors Through Professional Learning (Doctoral thesis, University of Calgary, Calgary, Canada). Retrieved from https://prism.ucalgary.ca.