The factors that drive student success are sometimes elusive; there are many, and they seem to vary for different settings and circumstances. However, strong evidence suggests that collective teacher efficacy is a consistent and, perhaps, the most influential factor in student success.
Collective efficacy was coined in the 1990s by psychologist Albert Bandura. Bandura believed that when educators work together and believe in their combined ability to influence student outcomes, students achieve significantly higher levels of academic achievement.
What is Collective Teacher Efficacy and is it Effective in Education?
Albert Bandura’s work has been corroborated in the field of education by leading researcher Dr. John Hattie, who defines collective teacher efficacy as “teachers working together towards a common goal” (Hattie, 2018). Hattie reported in his 2018 study, Visible Learning, that collective teacher efficacy was 15% more influential in student success than the second most influential factor (self-reported grades), and almost 67% more influential on student success than socio-economic status. Two other education researchers, Gibbs and Powell, reported in 2011 that when collective teacher efficacy is lacking, educators are more likely to ascribe failure to a students’ lack of ability, or home life, and start seeking exclusion for that student. In other words, teachers feel as though they don’t have the power to help a struggling student and, therefore, the student will continue to struggle without intervention.
Set Collective Teacher Efficacy in Motion
Considering the definitions above, school leaders play a significant role in engaging their school communities in effective collective teacher efficacy. They do this by communicating clearly, and setting expectations for formal, frequent, and productive teacher collaboration through educator teams. Teams that encourage shared outcomes such as professional learning communities, instructional leadership teams, and department & grade level teams provide avenues to develop collective teacher efficacy among colleagues. Furthermore, leaders can create a culture of expressing gratitude for teachers by publicly announcing school and educator team successes across the entire school community. This will help nurture the belief that teachers can make a difference among teachers, students and the community.
Demonstrated Success has experienced the positive outcomes of collective teacher efficacy first-hand. For example, we helped one struggling New Hampshire elementary school implement an effective educator team process over the course of five years which improved the schools state ranking from #276 to #2 as measured by the state assessment. Through the process, educators were able to identify gaps in instruction and student learning and address them with proper intervention. Success led to further success and, as students made gains, a sense of collective efficacy evolved. This particular school was able to sustain its growth over time because its teachers had confidence that, together, they could achieve their goals. Other schools in New Hampshire that have followed our program for creating effective educator teams have also seen positive results as indicated by the following line charts:
When that belief in collective efficacy is present, teachers don’t attempt to solve seemingly unfixable problems alone. Instead, they invest in like-minded colleagues with the confidence that, as part of a team, they can make meaningful and positive changes for students.
Ascd. “The Power of Collective Efficacy.” The Power of Collective Efficacy - Educational Leadership, www.ascd.org/publications/educational-leadership/mar18/vol75/num06/The-Power-of-Collective-Efficacy.aspx
Hattie, John. “Collective Teacher Efficacy (CTE) According to John Hattie.” VISIBLE LEARNING, 12 Oct. 2018, visible-learning.org/2018/03/collective-teacher-efficacy-hattie/#:~:text=It%20was%20introduced%20in%20the%201990s%20by%20Albert,action%20required%20to%20produce%20given%20levels%20of%20attainment.%E2%80%9D