UNPACKING TERMINOLOGY

Unpacking the Terminology: 
What is the difference between mentoring and coaching?

The terms mentoring and coaching have conflicting interpretations and usage within the educational research literature (CUREE, 2005; Fletcher & Mullen, 2012; Knight, 2007; Moir & Bloom, 2003; Sharpe & Nishmura, 2017; van Nieuwerburgh & Barr, 2016).  Clarifying the terms is a popular discussion topic on social media (see this twitter chat and check out Chris Munro's work) and in policy documents (the CUREE framework is outstanding).  Both terms are difficult to define and the practice can be multifaceted, ambiguous, and contextually driven.  To complicate matters further, each term can even be understood differently by people working within the same context and program.  When it comes to mentoring and coaching in education, often the terms are used interchangeably, or coaching is described as a component of mentoring or vice versa.  Certainly, there are many similarities between the two terms as they share key principles: both are primarily one-to-one collaborative relationships anchored in trust, empathic listening, non-judgement and they aim to support professional and/or personal growth.  However, differences also exist and lack of clarity around the terms is a significant challenge in the mentoring and coaching field.

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Mentoring and Coaching Diagram

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