How teacher’s expectation affects students behavior.

How teacher’s expectation affects students behavior.

In a classic study, Robert Rosenthal and Lenore Jacobson (1968) demonstrated that a teacher’s expectancies about a student can influence that student’s ultimate achievement through what they called the Pygmalion Effect. It has been found that students actually perform better when they are expected to do well than when they are expected to do poorly, so that teacher expectancies become self-fulfilling prophecies. According to Greek myth, the sculptor Pygmalion felt so in love with his statue of a beautiful woman that she came to life. The myth served as the basis for George Bernard Shaw’s musical movie- My Fair Lady, in which Henry Higgins’s high hopes for the lowly Eliza Doolittle became a reality. So the Pygmalion effect can be said to be derived from an old Greek myth.

In the famous study conducted by Rosenthal and Jacobson, they gave a list consisting the names of five students who were supposed to be rapid bloomers, to the elementary school teachers who were a part of their study. In reality these so called rapid bloomers were randomly selected students from a particular class. Yet planting these high expectancies (though false) in the mind of the teachers was sufficient enough to cause the rapid bloomer to show greater gains in the measure of IQ and reading achievement than their unlabeled classmates.

By now the Pygmalion effect has been demonstrated on many studies. It is important to note that the positive or negative expectancies most teachers form reflect real ability differences among students. Youngsters expected to perform well or poorly in future have typically performed well or poorly in the past. Still even if two students have equal aptitude and motivation, the one whose teacher expects great things is likely to outperform the one whose teacher predicts failure (Jussim & Eccles, 1992).

It seems that teachers who expect great things from their students are warmer, expose the student to more and more difficult or novel materials, interact with the student more often and give him or her many opportunities to respond, and accept more of the student’s ideas, and this is how the Pygmalion effect works towards achievement of higher goals even from disadvantaged children.

Thus, the attitude and expectancy of a teacher plays a crucial role in determining the student’s performance and all-round academic as well as personality development of the students, sooner or later. The teachers should try to be affectionate, friendly, cooperative and understanding in order to build a rapport with their students as it vitally enriches the understanding and grasping ability of the students and thus facilitates better learning ; in contrast if the teacher becomes very meticulous, stringent and criticizing and always points out the negative or wrong things of the students, never gives a praise for their achievement but never forgets to punish them for their mistakes even how trivial it may be, such a behavior can demotivate the students and can put negative impact on their creative and learning skills causing a decline in their academic achievements. However this doesn’t mean that one should forget about discipline, but teachers should try to adopt indirect means of control than the direct ones- like slapping or scolding. A student should never be made to realize that he/she doesn’t know anything or is not capable of doing anything in comparison to other students; but should be always positively encouraged. The child should never hesitate or feel ashamed of expressing his doubts or confusion in the class. Higher expectancies indirectly or directly help the teacher to plan his/her approach or method of teaching according to the child’s need so as to bring the best out of the child.

So in order to inculcate positivity among the students, it is very important that the teachers should first try to develop a positive attitude within themselves, with regard to their student’s achievement and all-round development. Even though the teacher’s expectancy is not the only criterion for student’s achievement but still it is one of the most important factors and has to be taken into consideration whenever the question of student’s achievement and performance comes into the scene.

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