In the 1960s two distinct effects were discovered; the Pygmalion Effect and the Golem Effect. Both showed that expectations influence attainment. The Golem effect demonstrated that low expectations often meant that subjects achieved less that they were due to, with the Pygmalion effect showing the opposite. The 1960s study picked random students and told their teachers that these students were identified as being full of potential, these students then went on to make significantly more progress than their peers.
The challenge for teachers (on top of all the other challenges that they’re dealing with) is to raise the expectations rather than aspirations of their charges. Expectations, as the name suggests, implies a certainty of completion. If one raises the expectations early on, when the slate is clean, and motivation is high, then the Pygmalion effect is more pronounced.
However, whilst high expectations are good, and can challenge students to work harder, having them too high can render them unattainable, and students de-motivated when they ‘fall short’. It is even better if teachers don’t give students high expectations, but rather foster an environment where students create their own high self-expectations.
Presumably this is what most teachers aim to do anyway, but is it possible with current teacher: pupil ratios? Do children get demotivated by constant exams? Let us know in the comment boxes below.
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