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Enhancing managers' schemas regarding coaching skills using a computer conferencing training intervention

, George Mason University, United States

George Mason University . Awarded


The level of investment to meet the demand for “soft” skills within today's workforce has steadily increased. Yet there are concerns over both the effectiveness of training in this skill domain and the ability to provide cost-effective training access. The need is for greater precision in defining these skills, designing training to enhance them, and measuring the learning outcomes from such training.

A training course in Coaching Skills was designed using a proposed soft skills training framework, and then delivered to twenty-five practicing managers from six organizations using a computer conference. The cognitive schemas held by these managers regarding this skill domain, were captured using computer-constructed idiographic concept maps. Employing a replicated single subject design, the complexity of their coaching schemas and the similarity of these schemas to that of a domain expert, together with their level of self-efficacy in the skill of coaching, were measured pre- and post-training using quantitative methods. Their belief systems concerning coaching and their behavioral intent to enact the coaching skills were also explored using qualitative methods.

The participants' schema became significantly more similar to the expert schema following the completion of the course, and there was an interesting interaction between changes in schema complexity and similarity. Their level of self-efficacy in coaching also increased significantly. An analysis of the qualitative data indicated that the course had positively impacted their belief systems concerning coaching and that most of the managers had formed an intent to perform the skills back in the workplace.

The study findings indicate that soft skills training can produce positive learning outcomes when the domain and the underlying skill set are clearly defined together. The findings also reinforce past research suggesting that organizations must pay close attention to contextual factors as well as instructional factors if they are to positively influence behavioral intent. When delivering training in a soft skills domain, organizations should consider a medium such as computer conferencing which allows flexibility of participation and may represent a “safer” environment for training in sensitive subject areas. Finally, the study extends the use of concept mapping as a valuable research tool.


Kostrzewa, M.H. Enhancing managers' schemas regarding coaching skills using a computer conferencing training intervention. Ph.D. thesis, George Mason University. Retrieved October 23, 2019 from .

This record was imported from ProQuest on October 23, 2013. [Original Record]

Citation reproduced with permission of ProQuest LLC.

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