Does ‘Teacher Expectation’ Make A Difference?


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Teacher Expectations

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Does teacher expectation make a difference?

Have you ever taught a top set or a bottom set class? How do the pupils and your behaviours change? Research suggests teacher expectations make all the difference, so ‘what can you say and do’ to help make another teacher more effective, which in turn impacts on their pupils’ behaviour and their performance?

Positive expectations influence performance …

The work of Robert Rosenthal and Lenore Jacobsen (1968) shows that teacher expectations influence pupil performance. They found positive expectations influence performance positively and they described this phenomenon as the Pygmalion Effect. You can read more about their research and grab a copy of their book.

What does this suggest?

In terms of John Hattie’s research, ‘Collective teacher efficacy’ suggests this has the greatest impact on pupil outcomes (+1.58ve). Yet, this is often misconstrued as ‘everyone doing the same thing’ in schools or others struggling to define what it actually is. Although ‘what teachers do makes a difference’ in keeping with a school’s vision and values are important, in its truest definition, CTE means ‘working together’ to have ‘appropriately high challenging expectations’.

“That combined belief that it is [teachers] that causes learning” explains John Hattie in a series of Visible Learning videos.

It’s not the students or those from particular social backgrounds that impact on learning, when [teachers] believe they can make a difference and you “feed it with evidence” that you are, that is powerful.

In my view, read the research, tackle it together as a group of teachers, and then disseminate the evidence into your context and refine and revisit.

Get in touch if you would like the research details quoted in the video. You can read more blogs in this series and also discover more classroom video ideas. Thanks for reading…


4 thoughts on “Does ‘Teacher Expectation’ Make A Difference?

  1. I am surprised this research is still being cited. The results were never replicated in other studies – hence the need to go back to a study in done in 1968 to support an idea that is questionable.

  2. I think this is probably spot on. When students aren’t given an option to fail, they tend not to. This can be seen in classrooms where teachers ensure that nothing can interfere with the learning and the focus is always on achieving and success. Students need to be trained to strive for being the best they can be. This is a teacher’s responsibility and should be part of any school ethos. I’ve seen this approach in action and can vouch for the excellent positive effects it has on students of all ability levels.

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