Well, of course, you’d expect me to say it does, wouldn’t you? So, I’m sorry to disappoint you. While there are some situations where it may well do so, there are others where it definitely doesn’t appear to do so. Here’s one:
Griffin, Carless and Wilson (2013) have just published the results of a fascinating study of the impact of coaching on aspiring students looking for a place at Australian and New Zealand medical schools. In those countries, students don’t just have to pass strict subject assessments (in the sae way that UK students pass A levels) but they also have to sit a test known as the Undergraduate Medical and Health Sciences Admission Test (UMAT). The UMAT is very different from academic assessments. It aims to assess a student’s ability to think critically, problem solve, understand people, and perform abstract non-verbal reasoning.
In their analysis, Griffin et al compared the performance of 402 students in their UMAT assessment. Over half (56.2%) had received coaching. The results were controlled for academic performance, high school type, and gender.
They discovered that coaching had NO effect for logical reasoning, problem solving, and understanding people. For high ability candidates only, it had a beneficial impact on their non-verbal reasoning. For lower academic ability candidates coaching had a NEGATIVE effect in this area.
Reference: Griffin B, Carless S, and Wilson I (2013) The effect of commercial coaching on selection test performance. Medical Teacher v35 (4): 295-300.
Some of you may know that I am currently the Executive Lead for Research for the “BACP Coaching” – the Coaching division of the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy. This article may appear in their limited circulation newsletter in due course.