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Do Expectations Affect Student Learning

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This paper provides an overview of the effects of expectations on student achievement. It begins with a brief introduction covering Jacobson and Rosenthal’s Pygmalion Effect. Then, It Introduces expectations from three sources – teachers, parents, and students. The paper discusses how high or low expectations from teachers affect student learning. noting the differences In outcomes for each. Next, It provides statistics based on high and low expectations from parents and the effects n student achievement.

Finally, it describes the effects of students’ expectations of themselves. This paper provides evidence that expectations have a profound impact on student achievement. In 1968, Robert Rosenthal and Lenore Jacobson published “Pygmalion In the Classroom. ” In this study, teachers were given false information about the learning potential of certain students in grades one through six in an elementary school. The teachers were told that these students had been tested and found to be on the brink ofa period of rapid intellectual growth.

However, in reality, the students had been elected at random. At the end of the experimental period, some of the targeted studentsexhlblted performance on IQ tests which was superior to the scores of other students of similar ability and superior to what would have been expected of the target students with no intervention. This study led to what is now known as the Pygmalion Effect, which refers to the concept that a person will achieve or perform as he is expected to perform.

A person expected to perform well will achieve or exceed this expectation, according to the Pygmalion effect, but a person expected to nderachieve or perform poorly will also fulfill this expectation. Expectations have a profound Impact on student achievement. Not only expectations from teachers, but expectations from parents and students themselves play a role in achievement. Effects of Teacher Expectations Teacher expectations can and do affect students’ achievement. Teachers’ expectations for students- whether high or low -can become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

That is, students tend to give to teachers as much or as little as teachers expect of them. While merely holding certain expectations for students have no magical power o affect their performance or attitudes, It Is the translation of these expectations Into behavior that influences outcomes (Cotton, 1989). Researchers have found that some teachers do interact with students for whom they hold low expectations in such a way as to limit their development. For instance, teachers tend to give low- expectation students fewer opportunities to learn new materials.

Also, teachers tend to give low-expectation students the answer to a question instead of trying to improve their responses by giving clues (Cotton, 1989). Furthermore, teachers tend to ay less attention to low-expectation students and call on them less often during recitations (Cotton, 1989). Research has shown that students who are given more opportunities to learn, more clues, and who are called on more frequently learn more than students who are given fewer such opportunities (Stipek, 2002).

Teachers tend to give low-expectation students less reinforcement than high-expectation students (Cotton, 1989). On the other hand, low-expectation students tend to be subject to punishment more often than high-expectation students. Reinforcement is usually ore affective because it is easier to strengthen a response that is already there than it is to get rid of a response that is already well established. Finally, according to research, few factors in education have a greater impact on a student’s educational experience than a caring relationship with his or her teacher.

Teachers of low- expectation students don’t tend to build these relationships because they conduct less friendly and responsive interactions with low-expectation students, including less smiling, positive head nodding, eye contact, etc. (Cotton, 1989). Effects of Parental Expectations Not many will dispute that parents play a large role in student achievement. In fact, 86% of the general public believes that support from parents is the most important way to improve schools.

Family participation in education was twice as predictive of students’ academic success as family socioeconomic status. The most consistent predictors of children’s academic achievement and social adjustment are parent expectations of the child’s academic attainment and satisfaction with their child’s education at Research Shows”, 2002). Parents’ expectations influence hild outcomes through multiple pathways. Parental expectations directly affect the amount of parent-child communication about school.

Furthermore, families with high educational aspirations for their children provide more out-of-school learning opportunities for them, and their children were more likely to attend college (Child Trend, 2012). Parents of high-achieving students set higher standards for their children’s educational activities than parents of low-achieving students (“What Research Shows”, 2002). Eighty-nine percent of parents who said that their children re currently earning “mostly A’s” have expectations that they will earn a bachelor’s degree or more, compared with 32 percent of parents who said their children earn “mostly D’s and PS.

Only three percent with parents whose children are in the “mostly A’s” group expect their child will get no more than a high school diploma, whereas 28 percent with children in the “mostly D’s and F’s” group have this expectation (Child Trend, 2012). One’s own expectations of oneself are important in the sense that people usually set their goals first and then develop their action plans accordingly.

However, others’ expectations of individuals are critical, since people tend to strive to accomplish what is expected of them. Some teacher’s may try to avoid calling on low-expectation students to keep from embarrassing them in front of their peers. The students can interpret teacher behavior that is meant to protect their feelings or to help them learn as evidence of their low competence, and this in turn lowers their own expectations and effort (Stipek, 2002).

Parental expectations also affect the child’s own aspirations and expectations; for instance, studies suggest that parents’ expectations or their children’s academic attainment have a moderate to strong influence on students’ own goals for postsecondary education (Child Trends 2012). Low expectations of students from teachers and especially parents have been shown to lower the students’ expectations of themselves. This leads to an erosion of the students’ motivation and self-efficacy.



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