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Desert Highway
Thoughtful writing authored and shared by members of of the Thinking Collaborative community to support others on the journey.

Sustaining the Journey

Efficacy (April 2019)

Authored By:

Thinking Collaborative


April 22, 2019

Thirty-five years ago, Costa and Garmston developed Cognitive Coaching as a theoretical framework for supporting self-directedness and developing cognitive capacity. At the center of the work are the Five States of Mind. Wellman and Garmston applied the States of Mind concept to groups and referred to them as Energy Sources. As students of this work, these five concepts serve as a framework for analyzing the internal resources of both individuals and groups.

This month, we offer a review and strategies for intervening with each of the States of Mind/Energy Sources.


Efficacy is an internal belief that one is capable of producing the results one desires. In the individual it is a person with agency, a person who sees him/herself as possessing the skills, ability, and drive to move in a positive direction in one’s life and with one’s goals. When a teacher holds personal efficacy, It is highly correlated with student achievement. Recent research has shown that when collective efficacy lives in a group or school, students are more successful. It is a fundamental resource in equity work. Efficacy also sustains effort, provides a foundation for collaboration, and helps individuals and groups to persist when the going gets challenging. Teachers with high efficacy have lower stress and tend to remain in the profession longer.

Ways to Intervene

An internal locus of control is essential to ongoing efficacy. Inviting an individual to consider, “Over what do you have control in this situation,” can assist in a focus on actionable behaviors. Also drawing on past successes in challenging situations can be effective. The Outcome Structure taught on Day 8 of Cognitive CoachingSM is a useful tool when there is a third party that is part of the challenge facing the individual. In groups, efficacy is built through ongoing successful collaboration which produces results. Groups who reflect on their work are more likely to develop efficacy as they understand cause and effect from their actions.


What are areas of your life where you feel most efficacious? What actions have you consciously taken to ensure impact in those areas? How might that understanding transfer to other facets of your life?

What are the characteristics of the most efficacious group you work with? How might you develop those in less efficacious groups?

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