Remediation Part 3: The Academic Success Coach

Apr 21, 2023 | PA Admissions Corner

By Jim Pearson and Dr. Scott Massey

We’ve been presenting our three-part series on remediation in PA education. In the first two Issues, we discussed the need for remediation measures at the graduate level, and the implementation of a Study Skills Seminar, pre-matriculation classes or modules, and the Student Success Coaching Model. In today’s issue, we’ll conclude our series with a discussion of the Academic Success Coach.

Before we begin this final piece of the puzzle, let’s review the ARC-PA standards on remediation policies.


Remediation Policy (A3.17f)

A remediation process is designed to help the faculty and students identify areas of difficulty or challenge with respect to academic or clinical performance. The nature of the remediation process is tailored to address deficient learning areas in need of improvement. Several factors are considered in determining how the remedial option will be implemented. Entering an individualized remedial program is a privilege, not automatically granted.

The remediation program is developed based on:

  1. Student’s academic performance in all other courses
  2. Amount of time ascertained as necessary for the student to achieve competence
  3. Schedule of student and faculty member assigned to supervise and conduct the remedial work
  4. Extenuating circumstances that may hinder or impede the remediation process

After considering these factors and the student’s overall performance, the faculty will determine how best to provide a remediation process that will improve the student’s outcome. The remediation coordinator is responsible for oversight of the designed remediation plan and the assignment of a remediation advisor to the student. The advisor meets with the student, completes the Remediation Forms, interviews the student, reviews submitted remediation work, and assesses completion of the student’s remediation study.


The Academic Success Coach

Providing good academic support for your students begins with a robust advising system; faculty advisors must be trained to ensure that the same messages are given to each student. The foundation of effective support is longitudinal advising sessions that address ongoing student progress. Students identified as at-risk due to lower academic performance must be placed on a specific Academic Improvement Plan (AIP), which assures that students will receive support and mentoring at critical times.

Training one of your faculty members to be the Academic Success Coach can pay dividends.

Not all faculty members can be Academic Success Coaches – it requires a dedicated instructor with particular skills. The training involves in-depth understanding of learning theory, application of skill-building exercises, and strategic coaching. The Academic Success Coach should be able to diagnose student challenges and provide recommendations for improvement. Those who take on the role of an Academic Success Coach must be willing to learn educational theory and apply proven practices in student counseling sessions. It requires diligence and logistical thought. Because this work involves a considerable amount of time and energy, Academic Success Coaches should receive workload release for this responsibility.

This process can markedly reduce attrition and improve student retention. Exam Master has developed it over 20 years of academic remediation experience. Unless students are unwilling to make the effort, or for some reason they are incapable of improvement, this process is successful virtually 100% of the time.

The Student Success Coach Model persists throughout the program, in didactic- and clinical year coaching. The clinical year coaching process uses longitudinal test scores like PACKRAT I/II, EORE, and SUMMATIVE scores to determine student stratification of risk and to intervene on their behalf. This kind of intervention can result in a 100% pass rate on the PANCE each year if employed properly.

Rather than siphoning labor resources, the Student Success Coaching Model saves considerable time for individual faculty members because it avoids duplicating academic mentoring and tutoring services. The accountability model is deeply embedded within the Academic Success Coach process, increasing chances for success. A critical factor in using accountability to achieve success is treating students with dignity and respect.

Outline of the Academic Success Coach’s role:

  1. All faculty receive basic training in student success principles.
  2. Adopt a protocol-driven approach that involves intake interviewing of students at the beginning of the semester.
  3. Students who experience academic difficulties can be referred to the Academic Success Coach for more specific diagnostic evaluation.
  4. The Academic Success Coach will refer students to college or university services if this is beyond the scope of program resources.
  5. The Academic Success Coach will meet with students on academic improvement plans to monitor ongoing progress.
  6. Careful documentation of study skill methodology recommended for each student is essential


How can the faculty improve their skills in academic remediation?

Improvement in academic remediation skills requires a desire to focus on specific skillsets. Not all faculty members are keen on expending significant energy in this area. Many feel it is not their responsibility to hold students’ hands when they should theoretically already have the skills to succeed in graduate-level education. It’s a common refrain, particularly in programs trying to practice diversity and inclusion; this kind of support is essential. Your program has taken on the responsibility for educating these enrolled students, and mentoring is a powerful testament to your program’s dedication to the success of its future PAs.

Faculty training in academic remediation can successfully improve and reduce attrition rates. Faculty members must be able to help students build their metacognitive skills — the student’s ability to understand their own limitations. Not all faculty will serve as Academic Success Coaches, but faculty development is essential to ensure that everyone understands how student skill development can be incorporated into student counseling and advisement throughout the program. Faculty development is also an opportunity to ensure that faculty members follow a standardized approach to the remediation program. This development process builds protocols that will guarantee that all students are provided the same support and recommendations as they proceed to the program.

Keys to improving your faculty’s skillsets in this area:

  1. Faculty members participate in student success seminars at the beginning of the academic year.
  2. The program incorporates a protocol-driven approach to student skill development and remediation, resulting in consistent interactions with the students.
  3. Consider implementing a test self-analysis process. Faculty can review mistakes with students who perform poorly on the specific exam. This provides an excellent opportunity to improve the student’s metacognitive skills.
  4. Appoint specific faculty to be assigned to faculty remediation during the clinical year. Using statistical modeling will enhance your ability to identify students at risk based on PACKRAT/EORE. Students scoring below a specific stratification require additional follow-up and skill development.


Summary: Key Points in Remediation

It’s fairly intuitive that you should set up best practices and standard procedures for your remediation services, but there will be times when you will need to deliver customized one-on-one remediation solutions to help an individual student succeed.

If there’s one thing we’ve learned through from many years working with educators and admissions, it’s that successful remediation starts before enrollment. The better your admissions department can identify changing trends in incoming students’ pre-requisite knowledge, the sooner you can deliver pre-matriculation resources to help strengthen their knowledge gaps.

We invite you to:

  • Consider how your PA program’s didactic outcomes can improve if you had a strong pre-matriculation system up and running at your program. What didactic courses do your most recent remediation students struggle with?
  • Evaluate your current resources for effectiveness of remediation and support for students who may present more risk for attrition and deceleration.
  • Ask whether your current faculty can handle your PA program’s remediation needs. If not, where is the greatest weakness?


Thank You…
Thank you for joining us over the past 26 issues of the PA Admissions Corner Newsletter. We hope you found this series insightful and beneficial. As always, we invite you to share your thoughts and feedback.


To your admissions and program success,

Jim Pearson, CEO
Exam Master

Dr. Scott Massey Ph.D., PA-C
Scott Massey LLC

If you are in need of admissions support and services for your PA program, we can help.

Jim Pearson and Dr. Scott Massey have helped hundreds of educational institutions and programs improve their admissions outcomes.

Exam Master supports Physician Assistant Educational Institutions with the following services:

  • Admissions Support Services
  • Student Progression Services
  • Data Services
  • Accreditation Services
  • Board Services

Learn more about Exam Master’s products and services and how we support PA education by reaching out to [email protected]

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