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The beliefs that students hold about themselves and the expectations they have for their academic performance are strong influences on their school motivation. Where do these beliefs and expectations come from? One source, of course, is the classroom teacher. Significant research has been conducted into teacher expectations and their effects on learning, attitudes, beliefs, attributions, expectations, motivation and classroom conduct. In an early study, “Pygmalion in the Classroom”, Rosenthal and Jacobson demonstrated the effects of what has become known as the self fulfilling prophecy, in which initially false expectations held by teachers set in motion a chain of events that cause the expectations to come true. Four factors are believed to produce the Pygmalion effect: Climate, Feedback, Input and Output. Teachers who have been led to expect good things from their students appear to do the following: • • • • Climate: they create a warmer social/emotional mood around their “special” students Feedback: they give more feedback to these students about their performance Input: they teach more material and more difficult material to their special students Output: they give their special students more opportunities to respond and question
Good and Brophy propose the following model to explain how teacher expectations become selffulfilling: • • • The teacher expects specific behavior and achievement from particular students Because of these expectations, the teacher behaves differently towards different students This treatment by the teacher tells each student what behavior and achievement the teacher expects, and it affects the student’s self-concept, achievement motivation and level of aspiration. If the teacher’s treatment is consistent over time, and if the student does not actively resist or change it in some way, it will shape the student’s achievement and behavior. High expectation students will be led to achieve at a high levels, but the achievement of low expectation students will decline. With time, the student’s achievement and behavior will conform more and more closely to that expected by the teacher.
Good suggests that the sustaining expectation effect may be more pervasive than the self-fulfilling effect. related to various indices of student academic performance and social/personality behaviors. There are many examples of this latter effect such as the class clown always being typecast and the uninterested mathematics student not being actively encouraged to be involved despite his renewed interest. Good talks of both the self-fulfilling prophecy effect. while expectations may initially be based on physical features in lieu of any other information. . in fact. Physical attractiveness. Racial Grouping:. apparent achievement orientation. However.Good looking children are more motivated and better behaved than unattractive children 4.Black or White Among other sources of expectations are students profiles passed on from teachers to teacher. Physical Appearance:. in which an originally erroneous expectation leads to behavior that causes the expectation to become true. Much research since the original Rosenthal and Jacobson study has indicated that the process is far more complicated than this. introvert. and the sustaining expectation effect. An extensive literature review examined whether or not expectations based on some of the above assumptions were. Sex Differences:.Children from public housing don’t have the same ambitions as children from affluent suburbs or children from professional homes are more motivated to achieve at school than children from working class homes 2. boys are better at mechanical activities than girls 3. girls are better behaved than boys.Girls are less interested and able in mathematics than boys. the individual’s demonstrated personality for example. as other more academically pertinent information becomes available these expectations are modified by teachers. in which teachers expect students to sustain previously developed behavior patterns to the point that teachers take these behavior patterns for granted and fail to see and capitalize on changes in student potential. SOURCES OF TEACHER EXPECTATIONS Some common sources of erroneous expectations that may influence teachers are stereotype based on 1.In both of these models the student appears to be a relatively passive element in the process. Socio-economic Status:. and teachers appear to be relatively inflexible once they have embarked on an expectation – ‘driven’ course of action. usually measured by facial attractiveness. and prior behavior patterns. was found to be a determinant of teacher expectations for both academic performance and social/personality attributes. extrovert.
However. the type of questions asked and the wait-time given for pupils to respond. students from a lower social class were expected to perform more poorly than students from a higher social class. “rude” students bring the teacher a Christmas present. Other possible sources of expectations studied were whether teachers held expectations of siblings after experience with an older brother or sister. Information such as cumulative record files and more informal sources of information (such as corridor talk). In the first case. They are given more opportunities to learn new and . and students who were black or Mexican were expected to perform less well than white students. In this context. Furthermore. Expectations. It is important to note here that teaches apparently distinguish between reliable and unreliable information. particularly in high school. expectations become detrimental to the effective learning of many students perceived by teachers to be low in motivation or low in ability because the expectations themselves become associated with poor teachings. Expectations can affect the type of groups that teachers establish. students have a variety of teachers over a school day. and are used to facilitate the effective development of the student. It is amazing how students can be looked upon in a new light! Students who are perceived as disruptive will at times be ‘little angels’. Social class and racial stereotypes were also examined. student gender was related to expectations for classroom behavior. and so on. and that more reliable information is used as a basis for developing programs for the individual. and whether expectations were based on family profiles. the type of reinforcement and feedback given. the expectations may be highly valid and useful. and both teacher expectations for example. this review concluded that student gender is not a basis of teacher expectations for general academic performance. even erroneous ones. students we think of as academically hopeless are highly thought of by other teachers. are only likely to have an effect when the teacher holds them consistently and implements practices in line with these expectations that are not challenged by changes in student behavior or other environmental events. They receive more positive and warm contact from the teacher. such as single parenting. while family situation does not appear to be systematically related to the development of expectations. In general. high-expectation students are taught more effectively. there is some evidence that an older sibling’s previous performance(with the same teacher) is related to the formation of the teacher’s expectations. are accurate.Despite research evidence suggesting that teachers interact differently with girls and boys in the classroom. and so the impact of any one teacher is lessened. the different activities that students are allowed to be involved in and the general quality of interaction. was found to be strongly related to teacher expectations. Most of us have been guilty of expecting poor assignments and test results from particular students because they are inattentive or appear non-involved in our particularly interesting lessons. At times. These types of disconfirmation of expectations happen all the time in the classroom. only to be surprised when the student performs exceptionally well in a particular task. students from low-income areas have professional parents. It should also be noted that many of the expectations that teachers have of students are based upon good understanding of the individual.
if a teacher fails to teach effectively. what really matters for student achievement is what teachers do and don’t do. and are given more clues and wait-time than low-expectation students. Several studies have shown the beneficial effects of such positive expectations on children. and demonstrate this in their own preparation for teaching. if a teacher holds low expectations of a student but nevertheless takes strong corrective action to enhance the student’s performance. despite low expectations. the chances of student success increase. Positive teacher and student expectations need to be buttressed by effective teaching. In other words. these positive expectations need to be tempered by a sense of reality.more difficult material. While teachers should hold positive expectations that students will want to learn. . Conversely. Even low achieving students in such contexts improve their academic performance. even students for whom high expectations are held may perform poorly. productive and capable. enjoy learning and be successful at learning. CLASSROOM IMPLICATIONS OF TEACHER EXPECTATIONS It would seem likely that when teachers expect learners to be interested in their work. they are more likely to find that learners make efforts to be so than if they expect the reverse. However. despite their expectations. Students need to be taught to monitor their own learning and achievements towards designed learning goals as well. Teachers should seek to communicate a confidence that accurately reflects the student’s actual ability and potential.
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