Coaching Methods In Teaching Self-Cognition And Enhancing Methodical Competencies Of Teachers


Since the school subject of Self-Cognition in Kazakhstan is aimed at developing moral values and attitudes in students, students can take advantage of the use coaching methods in teaching to deepen and enrich the semantic perception of universal human values. Research questions: What coaching methods can be used in teaching Self-Cognition? What coaching bases and methods can enhance methodical competencies in university students? How methodical competencies of preservice teaching can be enhanced with the help of the coaching approach? The purpose of this research is to integrate the coaching approach with the methods in Self-Cognition teaching and to design a coaching program for the enhancement of methodical competencies of students - preservice teachers. The basis of integration of Self-Cognition provisions and the coaching approach is the humanistic position: H-concept of coaching, 5 principles of coaching. Coaching methods: scaling, Windows of Values, open-ended questions in transformational conversations, the Wheel Method and others can be used to enrich and enhance the methodical competencies in teaching Self-Cognition. In addition to coaching methods, coaching techniques have been used, such as tones in teaching; three levels of listening for enhancement of teaching skills of students. A coaching program consisting of 5 themes has been developed, and conducted in the form of lectures and workshops for students. Following the workshop, the students showed high level of methodical competencies, 46% - middle level, and 17% - low level. Methodical framework for the use of coaching approach in teaching Self-Cognition has been developed for teachers.

Keywords: Methodical competenceSelf-Cognitioncoaching


The year of 2020 marks the 10th anniversary of introducing the new subject of Self-Cognition in the school curriculum of Kazakhstan. Teaching Self-Cognition is aimed at unleashing the human abilities and the harmonious development of physical, mental, spiritual, social and creative potentials of a human. The concept of Self-Cognition integrates the philosophical meaning of the value approach and humanistic pedagogy. The main objective of the subject is to teach students to see universal human values in their actions and deeds, moreover, to do new things, viewing them through the lens of the values of Love, Truth, Right Behavior, Non-Violence, Peace (inner harmony) (Mukazhanova & Omarova, 2013, 2014; Mukazhanova, 2015). As it is known, different countries of the world also teach themes aimed at the development of spiritual and moral qualities, but under different names. For instance, in South Korea, the integrated lessons of  Proper Life, Pleasant Life, Intelligent Life (Pak Su Chin, 2007) are taught in school, in Japan there is a Moral Education course (Kozachina, 2018), etc.

According to The Future of Education and Skills 2030 OECD project by Taguma, Shirai, and Anger, (2016), the important component of school education and competencies being developed, are values and attitudes, social and emotional skills, in addition to traditional cognitive and metacognitive, physical and practical skills. The integrative Self-Cognition subject introduced into the school curriculum of Kazakhstan is actually following this trend. The author of the conceptual foundations, the initiator behind the development of the program for moral and spiritual education in Kazakhstan and Self-Cognition subject was the first lady of Kazakhstan - S.А. Nazarbayeva.

Problem Statement

Self-Cognition is a subject of innovative nature, so are its teaching methods. We have already reported the specificities of the methods in Self-Cognition teaching: applying positive thinking techniques, the quote of the lesson, storytelling, conversations, creative and group methods, singing songs, etc (Mynbayeva, Anarbek, & Yeseeva, 2016). This study has furthered the search for new teaching approaches and teaching methods for the enhancement of methodical competencies of preservice teaching. What new approaches and methods can be used in teaching the subject? We have revealed huge potential lying behind the coaching approach, the theories of M. Erickson, M. Atkinson, J. Whitmore, N. MacLennan, etc. If the authors of theories, as judged by their books (Atkinson, 2007; Atkinson & Chois, 2010; Atkinson & Chojs, 2015; Whitmore, 2002; MacLennan, 2017), mainly used coaching techniques and methods with adults, we suggest applying the elements of their theory with children, students in Self-Cognition classrooms. However, first, these methods need to be taught to preservice teachers - university students. The coaching approach can enrich and deepen the methodical competencies of preservice teaching.

Research Questions

As part of the research, we will answer the following questions: What is the potential lying behind the integration of the humanistic bases of Self-Cognition and the coaching approach? What coaching bases and methods can be used in the enhancement of methodical competencies of preservice teaching? How can we enhance the methodical competencies of preservice teaching with the help of the coaching approach?

Purpose of the Study

The purpose of this research is to integrate the coaching approach with the methods in Self-Cognition teaching and to design a coaching program for the enhancement of methodical competencies of students - preservice teachers - based on the coaching approach, with the program being introduced into the university learning process.

Research Methods

The study comprised two parts: theoretical and practical. An in-depth analysis of theoretical frameworks of the coaching approach allowed us to summarize the key provisions of the approach and develop a model of pedagogical coaching framework for the enhancement of methodical competencies of preservice Self-Cognition teachers. Theoretical modeling, being a distinguishable feature of the national methodology of pedagogical research, allows to systemize the theoretical foundations and build the logic behind the enhancement of methodical competencies of university students - preservice teachers of Self-Cognition. Based on the model, the design of the coaching program for the enhancement of methodical competencies has been set, consisting of 5 themes for lessons (lectures and workshops). The coaching program has been probed at Al-Farabi Kazakh National University during the course of Methods in Self-Cognition Teaching. 63 students majoring in Social Pedagogy and Self-Cognition took part in the pedagogical experiment. Pre-experimental diagnostics has been carried out using the survey method. Upon training the students as part of the coaching program, a test was conducted to measure levels of enhancement in students’ methodical competencies. The validity of the results obtained was verified by the statistical method of t-Student’s t-test.


Definition of the term

The term coaching embraces a multifunctional system that is understood as: (1) the art of facilitating the performance, learning and development of another.  (Downey, 2007, p.28), (2) the process of activity resulting in the development of professional competencies or the growth of an individual’s personal qualities, where the main purpose is not to achieve tangible outcomes, but to develop the ability to see ways, make decisions and bear responsibility for them (Nechayeva, 2017); a tool to help develop the ability to follow one’s will and one’s choice in our world (Atkinson, 2013); pedagogical style – is an interaction based on equal partnership, which facilitates the unleashing of students’ potential, increased responsibility, motivation and performance as a whole (Tarannikova, 2018). According to Andreeva (2003) pedagogical coaching is a special framework , which, by using the knowledge and experiences of the student helps solve particular problems, and achieve the desired goals and objectives. By utilizing a person’s own potential, the technology can help improve performance and learning efficiency, and boost self-esteem. According to Landsberg, coaching of teachers is a process of enhancing their professional and pedagogical competencies and performance in three management domains: a) communicative domain providing for intentions, vision and goals of an entity; b) building relationships and facilitating interaction, which leads to highly efficient teamwork; c) ensuring high execution and performance results (Landsberg, 2006).

Review of the 15 definitions of the concept of coaching and the 4 definitions of the concept of pedagogical coaching as part of the research allowed us to clarify the concepts. Coaching is the interaction between a coach and a client, based on equal partnership that facilitates unfolding of potential, increased responsibility, motivation and performance in general, on the way towards the achieving of the goals set. Pedagogical coaching is a special framework for personal development, which is based on the student’s personal potential, and allows to increase the efficiency of learning, self-education, as well as raise personal self-esteem through the targeted value and meaningful self-immersion. In coaching, this is achieved with the help of the methods of transformational conversation, in-depth listening, and the value-semantic development of the student.

Coaching approach and humanistic pedagogy

In this article, we consider the concept of coaching by M. Erickson and M. Atkinson, where the foundations and coaching principles, the H-model, various methods and coaching tools are represented in a well-structured manner (Atkinson & Chojs, 2015). It is worthwhile noting that the teacher can share both the same coach position, i.e. coach worldview, view of life, attitude, integrated with the professional view of the world, and in the beginning state, can temporarily enter coach position. Atkinson has developed the techniques for entering the role of a coach for a coach session, for instance, by stepping in the center of a five-pointed star, putting on a coach mantle and imagining turning around while reading the 5 coaching principles - tenets written on five tops of the star, thus actualizing these positions in mind. By comparing and analyzing the content of the concepts, it can be noted that the concept of Erickson, Atkinson is, figuratively speaking, the philosophy of life, attitude and view of living and being, whereas J. Whitmore’s coaching concept is more of a business and leadership philosophy (Whitmore, 2002). We would like to emphasize that the theory of J. Whitmore vividly illustrates the team synergy in order to succeed. In this respect, it is also based on a synergistic approach. Atkinson’s theory is linked with Csikszentmihalyi’s theory of flow, the cognitive theory of the dual thinking process, the concept of McLean’s triune brain model (Atkinson & Chojs, 2015), and helps understand the steps of immersion into the inner world of a person and to see his/her development trajectories through the activities such as the Big Ears, Inner Radio, etc.

In their book, The Mastery of Life: Internal Dynamics of Development, Atkinson and Chois (2015), present an H-model of human essence (where H stands for ‘human’). In the letter H as a model, the lower part of H resembles two legs, which personifies the resilience of a person, the need to stand firmly on his/her feet in order to make his/her dreams come true. The horizontal line of H symbolizes the heart of a person, which seeks to achieve goals, results and establish relationships with others, thereby enriching him/herself, moving towards the vision of these values. The upper part of the H is like two arms reaching up and outward. It personifies the openness of a person towards the infinite possibilities and deep meaning, evokes core values that relate to the meaning of his/her life, vision and mission. In order to conduct transformational conversations as a coach, it is necessary to form a stable H humanity as the basis of one’s inner self, which is the key to opening values to oneself and to others.

The coaching approach is based on five Erickson Principles: (1) People are okay as they are; (2) People already have all the resources within them to achieve what they want; (3) People always make the best choice they can at the time; (4) Every behavior has a positive intention; (5) Change is inevitable (Atkinson, 2007, 2013; Atkinson & Chojs, 2015). The first, second, third, and fourth principles are oftentimes debatable whenever discussed by students and teachers. At the first stage, due to the well-established social patterns, many students challenge and do not accept these principles. That is why the authors of the concepts elaborated the techniques for entering coach position (as described above). The first principle says that any person should be accepted as he/she is, devoid of pretention at any moment of life, and it is necessary to accept others without any critical judgement , just the way they are here and now. According to the methods used in teaching Self-Cognition, students are not graded. Therefore, the first coaching principle correlates with this instructional technique, and in fact touches on a deeper sense. To identify common bases in Self-Cognition and coaching, students are given the task to design a visual integration of the principles and values of Self-Cognition and those of coaching. The five principles are based on great humanistic faith in the human, and the humanistic tenets of human development. In this respect, they are consistent or aligned with the principles of humanistic pedagogy, they correspond to and develop the values of Self-Cognition such as Truth (Truth is an understanding of the unity of all things, acceptance of reality as it is), Love (a person’s positive energy, hence his/her positive choice), Right Behavior (to awaken everyone’s ability to see and hear the voice of Conscience), Peace (to control one’s emotions, one must first calm one’s mind), Non-Violence (try not to harm anyone, understand that all beings have feelings and the right to life). Finding the points, planes and areas where the principles are in contact with one another, including the presentation of examples by students themselves, allows unlocking the potential integration of the foundations of Self-Cognition and coaching. Students present their solution drawings, there is a discussion, where students usually independently conclude that the potential for integration of coaching and humanistic pedagogy is great, and it may even be called synergistic.

As we can see, the meaning of these principles has a humanistic orientation. Moreover, the coaching principles help strengthen the humanistic foundation of teacher’s pedagogical mastery. According to I.A. Zyazyun (1989) the classic of pedagogical mastery, the teacher’s skill comprises 4 components: humanistic basis of the teacher, psychological and pedagogical skills, and subject knowledge, skills, and abilities, pedagogical abilities and pedagogical techniques. Atkinson describes the coaching methods to develop mastery. The methodology includes 4 steps (Atkinson & Chojs, 2015): statement focus movement mastery (See man in Fig. 01 ). These steps can also be applied to the methodical mastery. Stage 1 - the statement of new opportunities based on the internal needs, “a spark ignited within”, “there is something that one wants to reach beyond one’s current state”. 2 - Focus - mastering the ability to concentrate and focus on the goal and actions to achieve them. 3 - Movement – take every action one is required to make a big step forward. 4 - Mastery, i.e. skills, - thoughts and actions of a person are aligned and integrated.

The practical coaching method, which can be used to enhance the methodical competencies of teaching is the method of transformational conversation with open-ended and strong questions, scaling, storytelling, the techniques of three-stage listening, using tones in communication - Wizard, Sage, Friend, Warrior, etc. For instance, Atkinson offers the following techniques for composing open-ended questions. Open-ended question is a question that can only be answered in full, using one’s own knowledge or feelings. Questions are formulated with a focus on actualization of the individual. The five proposed patterns are: the question statement, including the words “could”, “would be able”, reflecting the person’s potential; the question in plural (stimulation of divergent thinking); adding the words of “the best”, “the most beautiful” or “the most important”; use of verbs “to grow”, “to develop”, “to learn”, “to clarify”, “to create” and examples of figurative movement; system thinking - the creation of holistic visual images, embracing the power of system thinking. These patterns of open-ended questions can be used when discussing the quotes of the lesson with students, stories told, creative works of students. For instance, “Can you suggest/reformulate a new lesson quote? Please, offer a few options”. “What are the best/most important ways to become a better version of yourself can you suggest at the moment?”, etc.

The scaling technique teaches students and teacher how to self-assess their own state on a scale of 10. For instance, for students, determining the level of methodical competencies or pedagogical mastery, where 1 is the minimum level, 10 is maximum or the ideal level of proficiency. Then a person conducts a self-assessment with respect to the level he/she is currently at, and why. What needs to be done to get 1 step closer the target? 2 steps closer? etc.

Windows of Values, the Wheel of Life activities can be used in the individual creative work of students. For Windows of Values activity, each student draws a rhombus, divided into 4 parts. Each of the parts represents: (1) physical well-being; (2) emotional domain and relationships; (3) creative domain and area of intent; (4) the domain of meanings and spirituality. Then, a presentation is held, and the works can be hung in the classroom in the form of window display with creative works of students, students are allowed to get up and mingle to see the exposition (a museum exposition simulation) during 5-7 minutes.

These activities have been included in the workshops. Thus, the potential for integration of the basics of coaching and humanistic pedagogy is huge enough. Since the coaching approach develops the provisions of Self-Cognition, the two complement each other, and the potential of integration can be called as synergistic.

Designing a model for the enhancement of methodical competencies of students

Methodical competencies are an integrated quality of an individual, including a system of knowledge, skills and abilities in relation to the methods of teaching a particular subject, and a positive value attitude towards methodical work. Methodical competencies with the elements of the coaching approach include the ability to ask open-ended questions, transform the conversation; the ability to use tones in communication with students; the ability to establish targeted, meaningful attitudes, the ability to support and facilitate students; the ability to design a Self-Cognition lesson using coaching practices and techniques; the ability to obtain information on subject matter, transforming it into learning content and using it for self-education; the ability to enter coach position; awareness of one’s role and mission; possession of reflective skills for self-development, etc. A three-level scale to measure the level of methodical competencies with the elements of the coaching approach: high, middle, low; and proficiency criteria: cognitive, motivation and value, activity oriented, has been developed.

Based on the above, a model for the enhancement of methodical competencies with the elements of pedagogical coaching has been developed.

Figure 1: Model of coaching-based enhancement of methodical competencies
Model of coaching-based enhancement of methodical competencies
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The model comprises the target module (purpose, objectives); the methodical module, where the approaches of humanistic pedagogy are connected with a person-centered, synergistic, competence-based approach, and reflects the integration of coaching principles and Self-Cognition values; content module, which presents methodical competencies with the elements of the coaching approach; tools module, where methods, tools and techniques of the coaching approach are given; efficient (Fig.01).

Program Design

Based on the proposed model a coaching program has been developed, which was probed during the pilot period. The developed coaching program consists of 5 themes, as shown in Table 01 .

Table 1 -
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The general purpose of the coaching program is to enhance the methodical competencies of preservice Self-Cognition teachers based on the identification of universal human values using the coaching approach.

Pilot Study

The pilot study was designed according to the methodology of the pedagogical experiment conducted by Isaeva and Taubayeva (2000). The pilot program comprised three stages as follows:

  • ascertaining stage - input diagnostics to determine how developed the methodical competencies of preservice Self-Cognition teachers were based on student survey;

  • forming stage , conducting a workshop for the enhancement of methodical competencies of students in accordance with the developed coaching program as part of the lessons of Methods in Self-Cognition Teaching course;

  • control stage , during which a test was conducted on the level of methodical competencies of students with the use of coaching technologies. In conclusion, the validity of the pilot conducted and the effectiveness of the workshop to improve methodical competencies has been verified.

The pilot work has been conducted at Al-Farabi Kazakh National University, which participants were 2-3-year students majoring in Social Pedagogy and Self-Cognition, totaling 63 people. 

At the ascertaining stage , diagnostics has been carried out through a survey, the results of which were evaluated according to the following scale of methodical competencies: low, middle, high. The survey contained 7 open- and close-ended questions. Pilot group subjects showed the following levels methodical competencies at input - 54% low, 37% - middle and 9% - high level. In the in control, group - low level in 78%, middle level in 18%, and high level in 4% (Table 02 , Figure 02 ). 35 subjects participated in pilot group, whereas in control group there were 28 subjects

For instance, to the survey question of What are the methodical competencies of a Self-Cognition teacher? The students responded as follows: methodical competencies are...:

- teacher’s knowledge of the subject he/she is teaching;

- the correct application of one’s skills during teaching;

- the ability to motivate, inspire ;

- skills of applying various methods and techniques;

- the ability engage students;

- creativity and versatility of the teacher;

- the ability to integrate theory with practice;

- have solid knowledge and the ability to it them correctly;

- correct setting of aims and objectives in the classroom;

- literacy and structured knowledge of a particular subject, etc.

Table 2 -
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To the question of What are the most important values of a Self-Cognition teacher? The students responded, that the most important values for a competent Self-Cognition teacher are the universal human values of truth, love, right behavior, inner peace and non-violence; humaneness, responsibility, etc. That is, in addition to the expected response with the listed values of Self-Cognition, students included the values associated with the humanistic basis of the teacher in the list of significant values. Interestingly, one student responded that the role of values in the class is significant, but the teacher should not impose his/her own values on students. Such an understanding is close to the concept of forming neutral values /‘value-neutral’ education/ according to Kerr (1999). In this respect, Kerr spoke about the advantages of education systems, where “explicit values” of states are clearly reflected in educational documents.

When asked to arrange the proper structure of the Self-Cognition lesson, most students set the order of the lesson incorrectly, and made mistakes when stating the objectives and aims of the lesson.

During the second stage , in the pilot group, workshops on the coaching program (Table 01 ) have been held. It is worthwhile noting that during the workshop creative and engaging learning environment has been established, more students answered open-ended questions sincerely and listened with interest to each other’s answers. Students shared their feelings, opinions or ideas between themselves; they passed the initiative to one another in the course of discussion of a particular topic supporting the overall conversation.

Figure 2: Results of the pilot group before and after the pilot
Results of the pilot group before and after the pilot
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Positive experiences included the demonstration of great interest, in particular in those parts of the workshop where the activities took place; the students’ willingness to express their opinions, while not imposing their points of view on others; the ability to argue, prove one’s point of view; well-coordinated group work, prompt rearrangement of groups and pairs during the work; quick behavioral orientation in non-standard cases (for instance, imagine situations); students’ satisfaction due to the fact that during the workshop they enriched their knowledge bank through the study of such concepts as: coaching, pedagogical coaching, coaching principles, creativity, professional motivation, etc. There occurred the following problems such as lack of self-motivation in some students, unwillingness to share one’s problems with others and unwillingness to let strangers into one’s soul, fear that others will learn about one’s problems or, on the contrary, dreams; lack of attention to the instructions while performing tasks on workshop themes; difficulty in peer assessment.

At final control stage , a test has been conducted on methodical competencies of students: students responded to questions by coach program theme. The test has been conducted in both groups (pilot and control ones). The results as measured by the scale are represented in Table 02 and Figure 02 .

Thus, the level of methodical competencies in university students in pilot group has increased: 37% students of the pilot group showed high level of methodical competencies, 46% - middle and in 17% low (Table 02 , Figure 02 ), whereas, in control group, there observed have been insignificant decrease (Table 02 ).

To determine the accuracy of the pilot results, we used the statistical method of Student’s t-test. The calculation of the data was carried out with the help of the online resource  . The mean value of the groups, the variance, the standard deviation, the standard error, the Student’s t-factor have been calculated, and the confidence interval was determined. The obtained empirical t value of (4.6) falls in the area of significance.


Studying pedagogical coaching at a higher education institution contributes to enriching the humanistic orientation of a teacher’s personality through the adoption of five principles of coaching, awareness and acceptance of the humane H-concept of coaching.

The basis of integration of the provisions of the Self-Cognition and the coaching approach is the humanistic position: H-concept of coaching, coaching principles, including the principles of the best choice and positive intention, etc. Based on the developed model, a coaching program has been tested for the enhancement of methodical competencies of students. It used the coaching methods of transformational conversations and open-ended questions, scaling, Windows of Values, Wheel of Life and others. In addition to the methods, various coaching techniques have been used such as tones in teaching; three levels of listening for the enhancement of pedagogical mastery of students.

Further research on integration of the coaching approaches with the methods in teaching Self-Cognition is seen through the integration of logical levels of thinking as per the coaching theory (the hourglass of logical levels) with the spiritual understanding of the subject of Self-Cognition, the possibility of using specific techniques for the development of the values of Truth, Love, Right Behavior, Peace, and Non-Violence.


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