Academic Coaches

When an online course has an expected enrollment of 30 or more students (depending upon discipline), the instructor may request an academic coach at least four weeks prior to the start of the term. Extended University will share the request with the department chair for approval and submit the request to Instructional Connections, the academic support company that hires the coaches and makes them available to UTEP and other universities nationwide. The instructor will be contacted by Instructional Connections to begin the process of selecting coaches.

To Request an Academic Coach

  • Download the Academic Coach Request Form and save it to your computer (you must do this in order to fill out the foirm)
  • Open up the form and complete all the fillable fields on it; the form must be filled out com,pletely to be processed
  • Once you have saved the form with your information, please email it as an attachment to and copy
  • Repeat this process for each CRN for which you need an academic coach

Download the Academic Coach Request Form

Frequently Asked Questions

What is an Academic Coach?
An Academic Coach (AC) provides assistance to a UTEP instructor teaching an online course.  

What can an Academic Coach do?
The UTEP faculty and the AC agree on the tasks the AC will complete during the course. These tasks can range from grading assignments, managing discussions, making announcements,responding to questions, managing student support issues, and any other day‐to‐day tasks as assigned by the faculty.

What is the advantage of using an Academic Coach?
By delegating certain responsibilities to the AC, the faculty can focus on the delivery of course curriculum and/or spend more time giving specific feedback to students. ACs are typically a student’s initial contact and serve students in a similar way as a teaching assistant.

Where do Academic Coaches come from?
Instructional Connections, an academic support company headquartered in Dallas, hires ACs and makes them available to UTEP and other universities nationwide. Instructional Connections recruits, screens, performs background checks, pre‐qualifies, and presents ACs for approval to the appropriate persons. Instructional Connections also manages and supervises the ACs on behalf of the university.  Each AC is a highly qualified, experienced practitioner in their field of study.

How is the AC prepared?
Instructional Connections provides the AC with training on online learning best practices, regulatory compliance, the Learning Management system, and other aspects required for a successful learning experience. The UTEP instructor provides additional information to the AC as appropriate.  

Can the instructor choose who will be an AC?
Yes. Faculty can set specific criteria (educational attainment, experience, etc.) for the ACs and the instructor has final approval over who is hired. Once an instructor has worked with an AC, the instructor is able to request him or her for future courses. An instructor can also refer someone to be an AC. That person will then go through the regular hiring process of Instructional Connections. Contact if you are interested in referring someone to be a coach. If an online instructor would prefer to use a graduate teaching assistant as an online coach, that TA will be employed through the University and funded through the academic department.

How many coaches will I need?
The number of coaches depends on the enrollment of your class. Each UTEP instructor is responsible for a predetermined number of students. Many coaches (depending on the student workload) will assist with 75‐90 students. When a section has more than 100 students, an additional AC may be assigned. Instructional Connections will help the faculty with this organization.

What do I need to do for the ACs working with my class?
Once the ACs have been approved for your course, the instructor will want to review the course, the projects, and the workload with the AC. During the course, the instructor and AC will participate in weekly conference calls. At the semester’s end, the instructor will review the course with the ACs and evaluate their performance.

How are the ACs paid?
Instructional Connections charges a rate per student enrolled at census day. The cost is covered by the revenues generated in the online course.