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Pygmalion Grows up: A Model for Teacher Expectation Communication and Performance Influence

Harris M. Cooper
Review of Educational Research
Vol. 49, No. 3 (Summer, 1979), pp. 389-410
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1170137
Page Count: 22
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Pygmalion Grows up: A Model for Teacher Expectation Communication and Performance Influence
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Abstract

Much research has examined the effects teacher expectations have on student performance. While evidence indicating that expectations bias student performance is scant, a substantial literature suggests expectations can sustain performance at undesirable levels. Classroom observation reveals consistent patterns of differential teacher behavior toward high- and low-expectation students. No model has yet emerged, however, which integrates particular treatment findings into an influence sequence. Such a model is presented, outlining the cognitive processes through which teacher expectations can sustain a given level of achievement. The model suggests that teachers frequently give affectively valanced feedback to low-expectation students as a mechanism for interaction control. High-expectation students more frequently receive feedback based on their effort expenditure. These different evaluation contingencies may lead lows to believe less strongly than highs that effort will influence academic outcomes. Differences in effort-outcome covariation perceptions may lead to less persistence and more failure on the part of lows than highs, thus sustaining poorer performance. Possible means for identifying Pygmalion-prone teachers and research needed to validate the model are discussed.

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