18 SES 07, Learning to Mentor in Sports Coaching: A design thinking approach
This paper outlines the theories underpinning this study (a) the notion of the mentoring conversation as a site for professional learning and (b) the use of the design thinking as an analysis tool for optimising learning in eight mentoring conversations. Tillema et al (2015) purport that professional learning is centred on a social theory of learning where knowledge is shared during professional interactions or 'conversations'. 'In reality, both parties profit, as participating in mentoring can serve as a stimulus for reflection, a means of engaging in professional dialogue and as a validation of good practice' (Author, 2015). This presents a powerful case for using mentor conversations as a learning opportunity for mentors in sports coaching. The design thinking approach was used to redesign the 'mentoring conversations' (Tillema et al, 2015) in three coaching contexts across the world. The study adopted a qualitative research approach using a case study focus. Design thinking was used as both an ideological and organisational tool for analysis. Choosing Goligorsky’s (2012) model of design thinking, mentor conversations were analysed through all four stages of design thinking Clarify, Ideate, Develop and Implement. Each case study was lead by a sports coaching academic who identified a sporting context and co-opted a coach educator, an experienced coach (mentor) and a novice coach (mentee) from that sporting context. The mentor provided (i) a contextual narrative of both mentor and mentee and (ii) an excerpt of an actual mentoring conversation (ibid). The sports coaching academic and the coach educator jointly analysed this mentoring conversation: (i) using design thinking principles (Brown, 2008) and techniques (Liedtka et al, 2014) [empathy mapping and journey mapping] and (ii) drew on relevant research to identify the possible mentor learning opportunities during this conversation. They then redesigned the mentoring conversation (ibid) in order to capitalise on every pedagogical opportunity therein, thus providing an exemplar of the ideal mentoring conversation (ibid). Sports coaches are often untrained for their secondary role as mentors (Author, 2015) and finding places and spaces for such training can prove difficult. This study provides an innovative approach to unlocking the learning potential of the mentoring conversation (ibid) and in so doing, presents guiding framework for developing the optimum mentoring conversation (ibid) which supports mentor (and mentee) learning.
Brown, T. 2008. Design thinking. Harvard Business Review, 86, 84. Goligorsky, D. (2012) “Empathy and Innovation: The IDEO Approach,” Lecture, Harvard Business School, Boston, MA. Liedtka, J. 2015. Perspective: Linking design thinking with innovation outcomes through cognitive bias reduction. Journal of Product Innovation Management 32, 925-938. Tillema, H. & van der Westhuizen, G. (2015). Mentoring Conversations and Student Teacher Learning. In H. Tillema, G. van der Westhuizen & K. Smith (Eds.), Mentoring for Learning “Climbing the Mountain” (pp. 23-45). Rotterdam: Sense Publishers.
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