Theses Doctoral

Coaching Across Cultures: A Narrative Inquiry of Instructional Coaching in Rural Sarawak

Tersan, Felicia Genie

This qualitative research seeks to understand the experiences of rural English instructional coaches in Sarawak, Malaysia through culturally relevant pedagogy and the three-dimensional narrative inquiry framework. Sarawak, the largest Malaysian state, is home to 27 main ethnic indigenous groups and over 40 ethnic subgroups, most of which reside in rural areas. Yet, conversations and research around race and culture in Malaysian educational spaces are limited and focus mostly on dominant ethnic groups while sidelining ethnic indigenous groups (Embong, 2018).

Using narrative case study, this research adds to the racial discourse in Malaysian education by first exploring the complexities and subtleties that shape coaches’ experiences within rural Sarawak. It seeks to answer the following research questions: (1) In the context of a multicultural rural setting, how do instructional coaches narrate their experiences of supporting rural English teachers? (2) What can we learn from the narratives of instructional coaches regarding their roles and responsibilities of coaching English teachers in a multicultural rural setting? (3) What changes or adjustments need to be made in the preparation and professional development of coaches in a multicultural setting?

Three instructional coaches were involved in 60 to 75-minute open-ended interviews as well as classroom and field observations over 3 months. Findings suggest the following themes: (a) making “ruralness” work, (b) the coaches’ perceived understanding of “culture”, and (c) missing pieces in the preparation and support of coaches. The findings highlight the importance of understanding how the nuanced experiences of coaches are shaped by their past and present, interactions, and the rural context. The in-depth and context-specific information has important implications for stakeholders and policymakers in reforming the preparation and support of instructional coaches toward being culturally relevant.

Geographic Areas


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More About This Work

Academic Units
English Education
Thesis Advisors
Vinz, Ruth
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
July 5, 2023