Hands up for homework: Exploring inter-sessional activities in coaching

Jonathan Passmore
Claudia Day
Qing Wang


Background: The use of ‘homework’, activities outside of the classroom or session, is widely applied in a range of disciplines including teaching, therapy and training. The argument advanced by advocates is that it provides an opportunity to consolidate knowledge learnt in the classroom and develop mastery in an applied environment. However, the use of homework has not been widely discussed or researched within business coaching, which is a form of personal development.

Purpose: This exploratory study aims to examine whether homework, as a coaching intervention, may enhance the clients ’learning experience.

Design: Data was collected from eight early career coaches and from eight coaching clients. Not all clients were related to the coaches. Each client had experienced a minimum of three coaching sessions.Interviews were recorded and analysed using thematic analysis. The study explored the use of (i) client-led, (ii) coach-led and (iii) collaborative developed homework during the engagements.

Findings: The findings indicated that homework is widely used and was perceived to have mixed effects. The positioning by the coach of the homework, including the terminology used to describe the activity, and the type of work, can affect the level of engagement and thus the perceived value generated.

Originality: This is the first study to explore the nature of ‘homework’ in coaching. More work is needed to better inform the use of ‘homework’ in coaching practice, including the type of work and how this is agreed with different types of clients, for example should homework be coach, collaborative or client led?

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