Original Research

Coaching as support for postgraduate students: A case study

Ingrid Le Roux
SA Journal of Human Resource Management | Vol 16 | a939 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajhrm.v16i0.939 | © 2018 Ingrid Le Roux | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 04 April 2017 | Published: 07 May 2018

About the author(s)

Ingrid Le Roux, Department of Business Management, University of Pretoria, South Africa


Background: Undergraduate students as a group are well researched, with focus on enhancing student engagement and improving learning and teaching methods. However, working postgraduate students have become a growing trend in the higher education sector, with little known about their experience. The purpose of this research is to better understand and to gain insight into the inter-role conflict experienced by postgraduate students owing to managing the multiple roles of work, personal life and studies. This article reports the case study of a coaching intervention administered to a group of postgraduate students over a 5-month period. The study concludes that the inclusion of a coaching intervention to assist postgraduate students in dealing with inter-role stress can no longer be ignored. Coaching support is an authentic way to support these students, with benefits reaching beyond the classroom.

Research purpose: The purpose of this research is to better understand the inter-role conflict emanating from managing work, personal life and studies, and to gain insight into the role of coaching as a support function.

Motivation for the study: There is limited research focusing on the experiences of postgraduate students, who are often working either part-time or full-time while pursuing their studies, and navigating three overlapping role domains simultaneously. Furthermore, even less is known about coaching as a support function to strike a balance between these three demanding roles.

Research design, approach and method: This study is qualitative in nature. A coaching intervention over a 5-month period was used to assist postgraduate students in managing inter-role conflict.

Main findings: The study suggests that coaching can be used as a method to address the interface between work, personal life and study demands for the working postgraduate student. To ensure successful throughput rates in the allocated time, a new support framework is required to complement the often insufficient academic interventions.

Contribution: The contribution of the research is twofold: Firstly, it focuses on working postgraduate students to gain insight into and a better understanding of the potential of coaching. Secondly, it highlights coaching as a potential support function. Very little research exists in the general literature on how to support working postgraduate students in higher education. The research also shows the potential of coaching as a support function to help postgraduate students navigate the three demanding role domains.


coaching; support; higher education; interrole conflict; postgraduate students


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Crossref Citations

1. Editorial: Higher education and non-cognitive skill development: Why, what and how?
Paula Alvarez-Huerta, Angie L. Miller, Inaki Larrea, Alexander Muela
Frontiers in Psychology  vol: 13  year: 2022  
doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2022.1000725