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School of Education at Johns Hopkins University-Cognitive Coaching

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Cognitive Coaching

by Arthur Costa

Research indicates that teaching is a complex intellectual activity and that teachers who think at higher levels produce students who are higher achieving, more cooperative, and better problem solvers. It is the invisible skills of teaching, the thinking processes that underlie instructional decisions, which produce superior instruction. Cognitive CoachingSM is a service-marked model developed by Arthur Costa and Robert Garmston that capitalizes upon and enhances teachers' cognitive processes.

Cognitive CoachingSM is a form of mediation that may be applied to professional interactions in a variety of settings and situations with the intention of enhancing self-directed learning. It is a composite of skills and strategies, maps and tools and mental models and beliefs. In addition it is a model for classroom mediation to enhance students' self-directed learning. Unique to this coaching model are what Costa and Garmston call Five States of Mind - efficacy, flexibility, consciousness, craftsmanship and interdependence. These are internal resources the coach seeks to enhance and develop in the teacher or student to enhance his/her self-directedness.

Research on Cognitive CoachingSM has linked its implementation to increased student achievement; greater teacher efficacy and satisfaction; higher levels of teacher cognition and more professional, collaborative cultures. The Center for Cognitive Coaching, headquartered in Highlands Ranch, Colorado seeks to provide training and follow-up support to agencies whose goal is to develop Cognitive Coaching SM capacity. Jane Ellison and Carolee Hayes, Co-directors of the Center, collaborate with 38 training associates to provide a Cognitive CoachingSM Foundation Seminar as well as a variety of follow-up support to assist districts committed to system implementation of Cognitive CoachingSM. As a result of engaging in the Foundation Training, participants will develop understanding of three structured conversations for planning, reflecting and problem-solving. In addition, they will develop knowledge and skills for expanding teacher thinking. Specific skills will be enhanced in:

  • developing trust and rapport in relationships
  • questioning for mediation of teacher thought processes
  • using effective response behaviors to enhance teacher cognitive processes
  • using style knowledge to enhance collaborative relationships
  • applying five states of mind to enhance teacher self-directedness
  • developing teachers' autonomy and sense of community by increasing their efficacy, craftsmanship, consciousness, interdependence and flexibility
  • distinguishing between coaching and evaluation

Cognitive CoachingSM has been implemented across six of the seven continents of the world in a variety of patterns. Many districts have trained administrators and mentors to use the model as part of professional supervision processes. Teachers use the model to peer coach one another and with students in classroom settings. The five states of mind have served as tools for assessing teacher development and have even been used as criteria for hiring. Participants often state that this work is fundamental to their ability to serve as a constructivist leader or instructor. Cognitive CoachingSM provides a framework and tool kit for working with adults and students in a manner which supports their becoming self-monitoring, self-managing and self-modifying.


Center for Cognitive Coaching, Jane Ellison and Carolee Hayes, Co-Directors, 2916 W. Deer Creek Place, Highlands Ranch, CO 80129, (303)-683-6146, FAX (303)791-1772, .Varieties of products (videos, tools for review, staff development kits, etc.) to support learning the process of Cognitive Coaching SM are available through the Center for Cognitive Coaching.

Reading List

Costa, Arthur and Robert Garmston,Cognitive Coaching: a Foundation for Renaissance Schools. Norwood, MA: Christopher-Gordon, 1994 Second edition to be published in 2002 .

Edwards,Jenny, Cognitive CoachingSM: a Synthesis of the Research. Highlands Ranch, CO: Center for Cognitive Coaching, 2001.


Costa, A. & Garmston, R. (1985, February) "Supervision for Intelligent Teaching." Educational Leadership, 42 (5), 70-80.

Costa, A. & Garmston, R. (1991, Fall) "Cognitive Coaching: Developing the Individual and the School." Leadership. Council of Supervisors & Administrators of the City of New York, 72-77.

Costa, A. & Garmston, R. (1992, Spring). "Cognitive Coaching: A Strategy for Reflective Teaching." Journal for Supervision and Curriculum Improvement. California ASCD.

Costa, A. & Garmston, R. (1993, Spring-Summer). "Cognitive Coaching for Peer Reflection." CASCD Journal, 5 (2), 15-19.

Costa, A. & Garmston, R. (1995, Spring). "The Five Human Passions: The Origins of Effective Teaching" Cogitare. ASCD Network on Teaching Thinking, 9 (2), 1-5.

Costa, A., Garmston, R., & Lambert, L. (1988). "Evaluation of Teaching: A Cognitive Development View". In Popham, W.J. & Stanley, S.J. (Eds), Teacher Evaluation: Six Prescriptions for Success. Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, Alexandria, VA, 145-172.

Garmston, R. (1992). "Cognitive Coaching: A Significant Catalyst." If Minds Matter: A Foreword to the Future, Palatine, IL: Skylight Publishing, I, 173-186.

About the Author:

Dr. Arthur Costa is an emeritus professor of education at California State University, Sacramento and co-director of the Institute for Intelligent Behavior in Berkeley. He has served as a classroom teacher, curriculum consultant, assistant superintendent of instruction, and served as president of the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development from 1988-89. Dr. Costa is an internationally known consultant, author of numerous articles and books including Developing Minds: A Resource Book for Teaching Thinking. He is author of The Enabling Behaviors, Teaching for Intelligent Behaviors, and The School as a Home for the Mind. He is co-author of Cognitive Coaching, and co-editor of The Role of Assessment in the Learning Organization and If Minds Matter.

Copyright © Sept. 2001

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