Using activity theory to understand the role of the coach in K–12 curriculum redevelopment

Cecile H. Sam, Anne E. Caliendo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to examine school-embedded instructional coaching as a social activity situated within a new initiative. The coaches were in their first year of implementing new standards and curriculum policy in a large urban school district in the USA. Design/methodology/approach: Using activity theory as a conceptual framework, this study was a qualitative inquiry into the experiences of 20 school-embedded coaches. Data were drawn from multiple interviews over the course of a year, with a total of 49 interviews and an end-of-year questionnaire from all participants. Findings: The study found that within the initial year, coaches had to negotiate a variety of relationships that included the overall school context, teachers, principals and their own responsibilities. While negotiating these relationships, coaches utilized a variety of strategies to accomplish their goals. Research limitations/implications: All data are self-reported, and there is a limited sample size (n=20). While the sample size may limit generalizability, all coaches in the initiative were participants in the study. By including all coaches, this study had a more complete picture of coaching during its initial year. Practical implications: This study offers some suggestions that help inform the professional development of coaches. Originality/value: The present study expands upon the literature by exploring the broader relationships of coaching to other stakeholders. Rather than focusing specifically on the approaches or styles of coaching, this paper focuses on the work of coaches as a social endeavor. It resituates the role of coaches within their context and reframes our understanding of the nature of coach work.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)231-247
Number of pages17
JournalInternational Journal of Mentoring and Coaching in Education
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 13 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Education
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies


Dive into the research topics of 'Using activity theory to understand the role of the coach in K–12 curriculum redevelopment'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this