Teachers’ expectations are believed to affect students, but teacher expectation intervention studies that compare an intervention group to a control group are rare. A recent study published in Learning and Individual Differences investigated the effects of an intervention in China that enhanced teachers’ behaviour of conveying high expectations to students.
The study randomly selected two schools in the urban area of a city in south China. Four Grade 8 English teachers in each school were randomly chosen and evenly allocated to either the intervention or control group. While the control group teachers did not receive training, the intervention group teachers were provided with training workshops focusing on three strands of high expectation behaviour, namely, giving students challenging tasks, providing affirmation or suggestions to students about their performance, and enhancing how teachers impart personal regard to students.
Teachers were asked to estimate the final exam score they believed each student would achieve for the study to categorize students into high-, middle- and low-expectation groups. Then, the study selected 30 students from each class, consisting of 10 each of high, middle, and low expectation students, to participate in the study. Among the 240 students selected, 229 students provided complete data for analysis. Students’ self-concepts regarding English and the English test achievement of 113 students from the intervention group and 116 students from the control group were gathered at the end of Grade 7, the middle of Grade 8, and at the end of Grade 8.
The result showed that:
- While the self-concept of students from the control group significantly declined from the end of grade 7 to the end of grade 8, the self-concept of mid- and low-expectation students from the intervention group significantly increased over the year.
- Students from the intervention group also increased in English achievement, while no significant changes were found among students in the control group.
- Low expectation students exhibited most gains in both self-concept and achievement.
The authors concluded that teachers giving challenging tasks, detailed feedback, and enhanced personal regard to students has a positive impact on improving students’ self-belief and academic achievement.
Source: Ding, H., & Rubie-Davies, C. M. (2019). Teacher expectation intervention: Is it effective for all students?. Learning and Individual Differences, Advanced online publication. doi: 10.1016/j.lindif.2019.06.005