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Supporting Learners to the Finish Line


Julian Jeffrey Matius is part of a support structure that empowers adult learners to take ownership of their upskilling path. The success coach at the SIT Teaching and Learning Academy journeys with learners in their academic pursuits.

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Success coach Julian Jeffrey Matius from the SIT Teaching and Learning Academy is a seasoned public sector professional with experience in coaching, community development and student care. (SIT Photo: Keng Photography/Tan Eng Keng) 

With the rapid pace of change in the workplace, many feel the need to upskill and reskill. While the benefits of continuous education and training (CET) are many, the reality for the adult learner is that it is often a juggling act between work, family, and other personal commitments. For some, financial anxiety might even creep in, alongside health issues.

To provide a holistic support system to help adult learners cope with the academic rigour of their CET programmes, as well as other demands on their time and energy, the SIT Teaching and Learning Academy (STLA) has introduced the Success Coach. These dedicated professionals play a pivotal role in empowering adult learners on their learning journey, offering guidance far beyond the confines of a traditional academic advisor.

Julian Jeffrey Matius is one of the success coaches, who works with adult learners who have embarked on the Competency-based Stackable Micro-credential (CSM) pathway at SIT.

"It isn’t just a title or a job. It is a calling—an opportunity to utilise all the skills that I’ve honed thus far in a particular way—to empower adult learners," Julian shares, encapsulating the essence of his unexpected foray into success coaching following a 14-year stint in the military and student care responsibilities in a university.

As a success coach, Julian guides learners to achieve their academic goals and advises them on learning strategies after assessing their educational history, motivations, mental and physical well-being and learning environment.

On the motivation front, Julian strives to determine how mentally prepared the learners are for the courses they are undertaking and their future aspirations following the completion of their studies.

The well-being of the learner is important in ensuring they have the mental, emotional, and physical capacity to take on the challenges of upskilling. Some learners may have issues at home or work that may affect their learning journey.

The environment considers factors such as the adult learner's learning space at home, family nucleus and work environment to understand whether the learner's surrounding environment supports their commitment to study. 

"Success coaching is about understanding the learner as a person and providing the support they need," Julian emphasises, highlighting the personalised nature of their approach.

Addressing Academic Challenges Systematically

Upon the initial assessment after a one-on-one session with the adult learner, success coaches work closely with each learner to develop personalised goal-setting plans tailored to individual needs.

This plan helps the learner decide how much time and effort to allocate to their studies, the ideal time to do it, and how to do it, given their various commitments.

The intent is to strike a balance among their various commitments so they can complete the course at the right pace without feeling burnt out or losing motivation.

The coaches also direct the learners to use digital tools, such as app calendars and task management software, to organise their study and non-study commitments.

Success coaches also highlight key observations from coaching sessions with learners to academic staff to align on the best approach to support learners.

“We are there to support learners from the time they enrol in our programme until they complete the course. We have access to the learning management system to monitor whether the learners are actively using it. If there is inactivity over time, we are quick to check in on them to see if they are coping fine,” said Julian.

Diverse Experiences, Unified Goal

Success coaches like Julian bring their unique experiences to their roles, extending beyond traditional coaching realms. Julian's expertise includes archery, scuba diving, and martial arts, experiences that have not only shaped his approach to coaching but have instilled in him an understanding of life's challenges.

Julian finds parallels between archery and scuba diving and life's challenges, using that to guide his learners to aim for their academic targets with unwavering determination or overcome their fears with confidence. Navigating the complexities of supporting adult learners juggling work, family, and studies, Julian understands the struggles of those who are the first in their families to pursue a degree.

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Julian (right) schedules one-on-one appointments with each adult learner, on top of casual engagements via platforms such as Telegram, MS Teams and email. (SIT Photo: Keng Photography/Tan Eng Keng)

"For many, taking up a degree is a dream they never thought possible; success coaching provides the guidance they need to make it a reality," Julian acknowledges.

Through their concerted efforts at STLA, these coaches are not just shaping individual futures; they're pioneering a new era of empowered adult learners poised to thrive in an ever-evolving world of work.

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