Updated: Nov 9, 2019
By Alvin Codner:
What influenced me to do this research is the consistent question that pop up in my head are what if teens of our society were able to teach themselves out of problems in front of them and or become aware of problems and create their own path of learning to solve them. The reason this is an important area of study is because I believe life coaching practices can impact youth development in all areas in a positive way. Based off my experiences, Life coaches and life coaching sessions are usually used by adults (mid 20s and up) who would like development in a range of categories such as career and finance, business, family, relationship, weight loss and fitness, and quite a few more. When it comes to people teens and young adults (mid 20s and below), the “mentor” title is more commonly used than life coaches. The youth are used to being mentored and being told what to do which is less difficult to do than doing the whole life coaching process. With that being a factor, majority of the youth may not want to participate or have full cooperation when it comes to coaching sessions. Also, the average kid/teen is used to being “suggested” on what to do which is less difficult to do than the whole life coaching process. With that being a factor, majority of the youth may not reach their full potential of becoming the true innovators which they have residing within them… because they weren’t given the opportunity to be “innovative.” Even though that may be true, in general, the life coaching is a practice that overall primarily helps humans set and achieves personal goals, while they learn and grow in awareness. These goals are usual consist of a client’s job, personal life or interpersonal relationships.
The reason why this research question is important to me and my practices is because the common consistent questions, that always popped in my head during the past 5 years of working in youth development field, were what if teens of our society were able to teach themselves out of problems in front of them and or become aware of problems and create their own path of learning to solve them. Once I became curious of that is when I pursued a Masters degree in Positive Psychology. Scientifically, positive psychology is the branch that uses scientific understanding and effective intervention to aid in the achievement of a satisfactory life, rather than treating mental illness such as, for example, depression with medicine. As I was pursuing my degree I gained understanding that teens and youth development can benefit from positive psychology because it is a scientific study of the strengths that enables individuals and communities to thrive. The correlation between Life Coaching and Positive Psychology is that both are all about tapping into the human’s potential and bring it out of them so they can be aware of their strengths weakness, where they can improve, and have betting understanding.
The findings in this study will provide the credible answers to the question “What would be the impact of life coaching techniques/practices being implemented in a mentor-ship program?”
The literature based around youth development is vastly supported by the findings of research in mentoring youth programs. According to (1992) historically, the term “Mentor” came from a significant figure in the Homeric legend of the Trojan War. During the Trojan War, Mentor was in charge of taking care of Telemachus and Penelope (the King of Ithaca’s infant son and wife). To a key extent Mentor was held accountable not only for Telemachus’s education, but for the molding of his character, wisdom of his decisions, and the clarity and exactness of his purpose. Fast forwarding to present time, mentor-ship has the exact same qualities and impact on the youth around the world. The literature in regards of life coaching displays that researchers are consistently proving more techniques and ways that life coaching practices can increase the personal development of not just adults but the youth as well.
Youth Enrichment Programs
Youth enrichment programs all consist of improving the qualities of the youth in various categories such as education, personal development, career development, etc. A well known type of enrichment program is a mentoring program. These mentoring programs are created as well as placed in different demographics and are directed to specific needs all around the world. In Effects of a Ubiquitous Mentoring Program on Self-Esteem, School Adaptation, and Perceived Parental Attitude, a action-research study conducted by (Lee, Kim, Park, & Bejerano, 2015), they shed light on how effective their mentoring program is upon elementary students from low socioeconomic status families in South Korea. In Exploring the Link between Mentoring Program Structure & Success Rates, a study lead by (2012), they created a low-cost intervention mentoring programs for at-risk youth situated in the juvenile justice system. In Men’s sheds and mentoring programs: supporting teenage boys’ connection with school, a study organized by (Wilson, Cordier, & Gillan, 2014), they conducted a study on a inter-generational mentoring program based on shared construction projects, specifically targeted at teenage boys who are considered at risk in Australia. In A longitudinal assessment of the effectiveness of a school-based mentoring program in middle school, a study coordinated by (Nunez, Rosario, Vallejo, & Gonzalez-Pienda, 2013), they displayed the effectiveness of their mentoring program on middle schools located in a urban school district in the north of Portugal.
All of these researchers and their studies have proven to show that the mentor-ship programs all have positively impacted the youth of all different demographics. All findings from these studies displayed he youth who participated in the mentoring programs obtained a major extent of personal development satisfaction whether it dealt with education, social skills in school environment, and goal attainment. The findings (Nunez et al., 2013, p. 19) showed that the mentoring program was effective. The students who participated in the academic mentoring program increased their SRL (Statistical Relational Learning) competences to meet school demands better than students from the comparison group. The findings from (Lee et al., 2015, p. 11) displayed there was a significant difference in level of family self-esteem and social self-esteem before mentoring compared to after completion of the mentoring program. The results of (Miller et al., 2012, p. 14) study showed the frequency of meeting between matched pairs of mentees and mentors was positively correlated with positive outcomes and the duration of mentoring relationships was also positively correlated with youth success. Wilson, Cordier, and Gillan findings from their study depicted that the teenage boys who participated in the mentoring program derived a great deal of personal satisfaction and social inclusion through service-led project (Wilson et al., 2014).
These researchers along with their studies have proven the importance and the need of these youth enrichment programs. There are more studies that have proven the increase of youth development around the world and shown consistent results of why mentoring programs placed in different demographics are needed.
When people hear the term “mentoring” the first vision thought of in the mind mostly looks like adults teaching the youth about a certain subject within life. By dictionary definition (Morse, 2014, p. 776), mentor is a wise and or trusted advisor or guide. Mentors are usually skilled and or have significant experience in a certain area in which up and coming youth consistently have struggles on accomplishing or being satisfactory of the status quo. As for the youth, the status quo in education usually deals with maintaining an above C grade average, suffice attendance in school, adequate behavior throughout school, and things of that nature. What most elementary, middle, and high schools do is either create or hire in-school and after school programs (youth enrichment programs) to increase the learning and social skills of the students who attend their institution.
The typical qualified mentors for young students are tutors, college students, teachers, older siblings, and parents. That gives the institution to create or hire after school or in-school programs to the diverse demographic need of the student body. The pros of mentoring are endless. According to (2013), a five year study sponsored by the Big Brothers Big Sisters organization found that children with mentors; were more confident and had fewer behavioral problems, four times less likely to become bullies than those without a mentor, and increased belief in their abilities to succeed in school, and felt less anxiety related to peer pressure. Even though there and plenty of pros, there is one con that always sticks out. The youth are used to being mentored and being told what to do in which may weaken their problem solving skills and simply want to always receive solutions from others with little work applied. Mentorship, throughout all these research studies, deals with the mentor doing the most work and the mentee absorbing the knowledge as much as possible. The con about the mentoring process is that not all students are mentor learners. Mentor learners are ones who can relate to who the mentor is and how their teachings are taught. To solve that issue, which is my theory, is to apply life coaching techniques while mentoring. No matter what type of life coaching session, whether it’s a group or one on one session, it accommodates the audio, visual, and kinesthetic learners.
What if teens of our society were able to teach themselves out of problems in front of them and or become aware of problems and create their own path of learning to solve them? Life coaching practices can impact youth development in all areas in a positive way. When it comes to people ages 20 and below, the mentor title is more in common than life coaches. As stated in the mentoring section, the youth are used to being mentored and being told what to do which is less difficult to do than doing the whole life coaching process. With that being a factor, majority of the youth may not want to participate or have full cooperation when it comes to coaching sessions. Most think mentoring and life coaching is the same practice but it is actually the complete opposite. Life coaching is branched off of positive psychology. According to (2004), scientifically, positive psychology uses scientific understanding and effective intervention to aid in the achievement of a satisfactory life, rather than treating mental illness such as, for example, depression with medicine. Teens in education and youth development as a whole can benefit from positive psychology because it is a scientific study of the strengths that enables individuals and communities to thrive. The correlation between Life Coaching and Positive Psychology is that both are all about tapping into the human’s potential and bring it out of them so they can be aware of their strengths weakness, where they can improve, and have betting understanding.
The lack of life coaching researches in the past is what created the life coaching statistics of today. In the life coaching field, we know what the positive impact life coaching has on adults but it became a difficulty to bring into institutions of the youth due to lack of evaluations and findings that life coaching practices can work on teenagers and or younger. Zander Ponzo, who is a well known Canadian educator, was one of the first to bring up this dilemma for life coaches. In the 1980s is when life coaching truly began and spread as an rapidly growing industry in businesses but back then Ponzo referred life coaches in education as counselor coaches. Ponzo (1977) first talked about the counselor coach in schools, but there did not seem to be any research studies evaluating coaching with school students. However, according to (2005) in April 2003 the South Dakota School Counselors Association in America hosted a pre-conference session on “Life coaching: New opportunities for school counselors.”
When comparing the research methodologies and findings of life coaching studies and mentoring studies, life coaching results tend to have more substance on what and how the student has improved. In LIFE COACHING WITH STUDENTS, a study established by (Campbell & Gardner, 2005), they displayed significant amount of methods and results to assess the effects of life coaching on high school students as compared to the amount depicted in Men’s sheds and mentoring programs: supporting teenage boys’ connection with school, (Wilson et al., 2014) study. Both studies were based on the transitioning to adulthood while being high school students. Both studies covered research of the students learning and social improvement or lack thereof prior and after the action research. The difference was that (Campbell & Gardner, 2005) produced more results due to the fact that in life coaching, students have to be 100 % cooperative in the sessions because they are the one finding the solution and achieving the goals from a personal aspect. All the life coach is doing is creating awareness and guiding and asking powerful questions to guide their goal planning and setting. Students in the mentoring programs are usually taught everything and most are pre-determined work throughout the whole mentoring process created by the mentor.
As quoted from the results in Purposes and Approaches of Selected Mentors in School-Based Mentoring, a collective case study by (Onwuegbuzie, Bustamante, Garza, Nelson, & Nichter, 2013, p. 14), “Mentors are experts of the mentoring process, with little program training.” I quote that statement not to belittle mentorship but to create the awareness of how much more skill it takes to be a life coach as well as how effective it can help mentoring practices. Life coaching would only enhance everything has