An initial workshop and an outcome session – both together with a coach – helps ensure optimal results from a pod. The first workshop should include coaching the participants how to formulate goals, asking them what challenges they anticipate and collecting ideas for strategies. This is especially important if the pod members don’t know each other. If the group can find common goals and get to know each other at the outset they can look forward to their sessions. Knowing that at the end their work will have an outcome – whether it be a report, presentation or a concert – also helps to give structure and motivation.
It is important that the pod members know how to give and receive feedback in a healthy way. The first coaching session should include information about what good feedback is – i.e. that is appreciative and constructive, and what it is not – i.e. giving judgement, analysis, giving tips and advice that has not been asked for. Optimally, feedback should be controlled by the person receiving it. In this way the intrinsic feedback of each participant is emphasised. The aim of the pod is not for students to teach or coach each other, but rather share their ideas and insights. In this research we used the Critical Response Process as a guideline (see below).