Frequently Asked Questions

Note:  Instructional Connections typically refers to teaching assistants as “coaches,” which is our terminology. Universities we work with may refer to a “coach” as a “teaching assistant,” “instructional associate,” “mentor”, “facilitator” or other terminology they are comfortable with.  Once coaches are assigned and enrolled, they report to the faculty of record for the course they support.

Are “coaches” considered the “professor” for a course?

No, the teaching assistants act as graduate teaching assistants do for any typical college or university program; however, the learning is conducted in an asynchronous online course. Most universities we work with supply a full time university-paid instructor of record. Teaching assistants (also known as “coaches”) report to the instructor of record and are paid by Instructional Connections.

What is the role of a Coach?

Teaching assistants or coaches help the instructor by grading assignments, leading or participating in online discussion forums, making announcements to students on behalf of the faculty or university, and performing other related functions to support instruction in an online classroom. The course professor, or instructor of record, is responsible for course content and leading the course. Coaches act as facilitators in the course, helping students make the transition from "being taught" to "active learning," which better describes what happens in distance learning.

How many students does a Coach oversee?

Typically in a first assignment, a new teaching assistant or coach is assigned up to 30 students. Universities make the determination on how many students each coach can work with, but on average a coach may work with 90 to 100 students in a course session. The numbers assigned vary by courses, course rigor, the number of assignments, and other factors.

Can I cover more sections and make this my full-time job?

Academic Coaches who consistently complete coach assignments with quality will be considered for additional sections or responsibilities. We do not want to over extend coaches' responsibilities to such a degree that this negatively impacts their ability to serve students. Also, universities make the final call on how many students a coach can work with.

Do Coaches facilitate more than one course at a time?

This happens very rarely. The model we use is based on coaches focusing on a single course at a time. Of course, you may be assigned to multiple sections of the course.

Are Coaches provided equipment and books?

As an independent contractor, you are responsible for your own equipment and Internet access. (Additional information is provided to all applicants). If a course uses a printed textbook, that will be provided to you in advance of the course by the university.

Can Coaches work across programs, across institutions?

It's possible, but not the norm. Coach credentials are approved by the university or college and so our files are typically aligned with one institution's needs.

How and when are Coaches hired?

"Hiring" actually means being offered a contract as an Academic Coach working as an independent contractor. Successful completion of this training course is a prerequisite to the formal application, submission of official transcripts, background check, and reference check.

How are coaches compensated?

Compensation is based on a “per student per course” formula. About 75 percent the courses are 5 to 8-week course cycles and the programs are year round.   Coaches are compensated, based on program, course, length of course, and other factors.

The student count that is used for the coach payment is the number of students in the course on the Census Date.  The census date is the day after the university designated Add/Drop date for the course/program. The pay dates are the 15th and last day of every month following the course end date. If a course end date falls within 7 days of a pay date, the payment for will default to the next scheduled pay date.

What type of leadership and guidance am I provided as a coach?

New coaches will typically report to a coordinating coach, who works closely with the professor of record for a given course. Additional guidance and training are provided to new coaches by the coordinating coach. Additionally, Instructional Connections may provide a “lead coach” who typically will help oversee all courses and programs in a college. During the timeframe of a typical course, coaches and coordinating coaches will hold weekly conference calls with university faculty, in order to received guidance, news, announcements, feedback, and information the faculty member and/or university wants to provide to students.

How can I become a Coach?

Please click below to find out about employment opportunities with Instructional Connections.


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Core Values of an Academic Coach

1. I Proudly Represent Instructional Connections: I am an ambassador for Instructional Connections by actively displaying a positive attitude and talking enthusiastically about the company, the university, the program, and faculty.

2. I Show Respect for Others: I treat everyone with respect by being sincere & kind, being considerate of individual differences, and acknowledging contributions made by others.

3. I Practice Teamwork: I am a team player working with my team to achieve the common goals of my program and university, and the Instructional Connections Mission and Vision. I practice teamwork with courtesy and respect.

4. I Respond Positively When Speaking with Others: I respond positively and show I care by concentrating on each student, attentively listening, and responding with sincerity.

5. I L.E.A.R.N. to Support the Student/Faculty: I show I care when presented with an issue by owning the problem, and using the L.E.A.R.N. process to resolve, support, and build trust. I am committed to resolving any student and/or faculty issue by understanding the individual's expectations.

L.E.A.R.N. = Listen, Empathize, Apologize, React, Notify

6. I Know the University & Program: I can answer students’ questions because I know about the university, my program, the learning management system, and the faculty I support.

7. I Focus on Individual Needs: I offer information and services relevant to each student's specific needs and concerns. I deliver individual service by giving relevant and detailed information, and specific and accurate directions.

8. I Stay Flexible: When responding to student and faculty requests, I ensure everyone is satisfied by asking questions to learn more, determining the individual's needs, and thinking of creative ways to say resolve issues.

9. I Do More: I am empowered to serve our programs by acting upon opportunities to do more than is asked, and going the extra mile whenever possible - to make the student feel special.

10. I Take Ownership: I help with any request by handling it myself, following the chain of command, and following up with the students’ and faculty.

11. I Learn More: I can give students’ and faculty the information they need through my continuous efforts to learn more about the needs of students and faculty, my position, my program, and my university.

12. I Build Relationships: I create effective and meaningful relationships, which are the productive and sustaining foundation of all that I do in serving students and faculty.