Teacher Expectancy Effect

Topics: Education, Sociology, Self-fulfilling prophecy Pages: 6 (2004 words) Published: March 29, 2013
3.1 Teacher Expectancy Effect

When we discuss about the interactionist (or symbolic interactionist) view in the context of educational institutions, teacher expectancy effect would be one of the major areas affecting the growth and improvement of students both in academically and in extra-curricular, mentally and physically. In other words, teacher expectancy effect is something that ties closely to the social development of the students as a whole. Teacher expectancy effect is defined as “the impact that a teacher’s expectations about a student’s performance may have on the student’s actual achievements” (Schaefer & Lamm, 1995, p. 461).

However, before we look at what teacher expectancy effect really is, it is crucial for us to also understand another two terms, i.e. the self-fulfilling prophecy and the labelling theory. According to Vockell (n.d., Chapter 5) self-fulfilling prophecy “refers to the idea that a false definition of the situation evokes a new behavior which makes the original false conception come true”. In other words, when a teacher stereotypes or makes an unreliable generalization about a student, she may then act based on that stereotype. This hence results in the false generalization becoming an accurate and true one. The teacher’s ‘prophecy’ is therefore fulfilled by the teacher herself. This is self-fulfilling prophecy. On the other hand, the labelling theory is one defined as the condition as to “how a person comes to be labelled as deviant or to accept that label” (Schaefer & Lamm, 1995, p. 187). Labelling theory is one that is frequently encountered in criminology. The theory “attempts to explain why certain people are viewed as deviants…while others…are not seen in such harsh terms”. Thus, it emphasizes more on the response towards behaviour, rather than the act categorizes people as being deviant. So, some prefers to call this theory as the societal-reaction approach (Schaefer & Lamm, 1995).

This section of the paper would attempt to discuss on the few different case studies involving the teacher-expectancy effect before giving the pedagogical approaches linked to this approach.
3.1.1 Case studies
In order to determine the relationship between teacher expectations and students performance, Rosenthal & Jacobson (1963) conducted a research at an educational institutions. The research involved testing of the IQ level of a group of children from the first grade to the sixth grade at Oak School. They chose a test called the Tests of General Ability (TOGA) at the start of the academic year. The advantage of this test was that it is not dependent on the skills students had learned in school. They named this test as the “Harvard Test of Inflected Acquisition”. Among this group of students, 20% were identified as having a high potential of academic ‘blooming’ and hence were notified to the teachers. What the teachers were not informed of was that these 20% had been in fact selected randomly out of all those who had taken the test. At the end of the academic year, another similar IQ TOGA test was administrated to the students and results collected were significant. Taking the mean (average) point of all the students from the first grade to the sixth grade, it was found that the experimental group (these 20% of randomly selected students) showed a 12.22 point increment as compared to those in the controlled group (the rest of the 80%) of having only a 8.42 point increment. So, the data showed that the randomly selected group whom the teacher expected or believed (in their heads) to perform better scored significantly higher than the rest of their friends even though they took the same exam and studied in the same classroom with the same syllabus and teacher the whole year round (Rosenthal & Jacobson, 1963). Another interesting research was also carried out by the famous education sociologist Ray Rist (1970 as cited in Covington, 1992). Rist observed that in a...
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