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How Can Teachers Utilize Collective Student Efficacy to lead to Greater Learning?

There are many benefits to collaborative learning for both the teacher and the student. Let’s first unpack the term Collective Efficacy as defined by Jenni Donohoo (2018). Collective Efficacy states that when members of a team of teachers or a school view themselves as part of a collaboration, their combined efforts will produce students who achieve higher academic gains. The group dynamics help to promote teachers’ confidence levels and the ability to support each other in their beliefs to guide their students.There has been extensive research on this topic dating back to 1970’s (Bandura). Simply stated, the confidence that teachers place in their team affects their belief in their abilities and improves overall student performance. Is it then possible for our students to gain academic success through a Collective Student Efficacy model? What if we create an environment that is conducive for students to interact effectively in group work and gain confidence will this promote success?

The answer is emphatically, “Yes.” This model is excellent for our students for many reasons. Our 21st century global world requires students to be well-skilled in collaboration, problem-solving, organization, high-levels of technical skills, creativity and knowledge. It is therefore incumbent upon us as educators to pave the way for their future success in our students’ life skills and employment When students work collaboratively with their peers, they gain these skills. Students learn the most by working with each other. This peer learning encourages patience, cooperation and teamwork. There is strong evidence to support the positive effects of this model if teachers model the “I” and “We” skills needed for Collective Student Efficacy

The “I” Skills Needed:

  • How to listen and take turns talking

  • To view oneself as a learner 

  • To contribute to the group

  • Ability to provide explanations

The “We” Skills Needed:

  • Accept each other’s opinions

  • Confirm what others are thinking and feeling

  • Empathize with each other 

  • Develop a strong listening set

  • Accept their mistakes 

  • Become social problem solvers

Perhaps the precursor to developing peer group work is to start out by using the very simple, yet highly-effective “think-pair-share” method. Whenever possible, pose questions to the group of students and ask them to think of the answer and to turn and share it with a peer. Also having students turn and teach their peer what they just learned, such an awesome way to remember and learn!

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