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Rooted in relationships: An analysis of dimensions of social capital enabling instructional coaching

Sarah L. Woulfin (Department of Educational Leadership, The University of Connecticut, Storrs, Connecticut, USA)
Britney Jones (The University of Connecticut, Storrs, Connecticut, USA)

Journal of Professional Capital and Community

ISSN: 2056-9548

Article publication date: 19 December 2017

Issue publication date: 4 January 2018




The purpose of this paper is to draw on the concepts of social capital in order to reveal the organizational conditions, including structural and relational factors, associated with reform-oriented instructional coaching (ROIC) in an urban school district.


An interpretivist approach was used to analyze organizational conditions enabling ROIC. Interview, observation and document data collected focused on coaching, leadership, and school-level organizational conditions. Qualitative data analyses, including coding and memoing, were used to summarize key information and quotes across data sources; this was followed by qualitative comparative analysis (QCA) to identify combinations of factors associated with reform-oriented coaching.


The findings identified particular structures, systems, and activities enabling ROIC at the school level, with social capital playing a role in facilitating or impeding implementation of such work. That is, relationships, routines, norms, and webs of interaction enabled coaching. Principals’ prioritization of coaching as an improvement lever and their persuasive framing of coaching, coupled with principal-coach collaboration, fostered a positive culture for ROIC.

Practical implications

This paper points to the vital role of collaboration amongst administrators, coaches, and teachers. Principals play a significant role in defining coaching, setting up structures, and creating conditions supportive of the implementation of ROIC. By managing structures and routines, principals can encourage coaching aligned with reform efforts to yield positive outcomes.


This research advances the field’s understanding of organizational factors influencing the enactment of ROIC. It uses QCA to reveal the value of leadership in shaping structural and relational conditions in a school site.



Woulfin, S.L. and Jones, B. (2018), "Rooted in relationships: An analysis of dimensions of social capital enabling instructional coaching", Journal of Professional Capital and Community, Vol. 3 No. 1, pp. 25-38.



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Copyright © 2018, Emerald Publishing Limited

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