Teachers and the Power of Suggestion
Two studies were done decades apart with the same results. The first one was in the 1970’s and the second one was in the late 1990’s.
It started out as a hypothesis that need to be tested. A dozen elementary school districts were picked at random by a dozen researchers. They told the elementary schools they were from Princeton University, and they have created a new formula to find kids who are gifted. Everyone in the third grade was given an identical test. When they were done the school was given the names of the ‘gifted’ kids along with doctored test scores.
The study ran for 3 years. The researchers came back and retested the same kids, only this time they were in the 6th grade. The results showed every ‘gifted’ student above and beyond the class average.
The same study was performed in (Brophy, 1998) by different researchers achieving the the same results.
The reason the students were ahead of their class mates was because of teacher expectations.
Teachers were giving extra time to the students they thought were gifted. The students were shown to be praised more and criticized less, and given the benefit of the doubt when grading was a close call.
Even a teachers attitude towards a student at the beginning of the year can have a dramatic effect on the students performance at the end of the year. If a student receives a negative view by his teacher they may start to believe or adopt that view and live up to it, carrying emotional baggage to the next grade.
The challenge for todays teacher is how to treat everyone the same. Teachers and caregivers must recognize that is isn’t just their attitudes that matter they must also set a good example in their actions towards others.
The original test scores in both studies showed most of the ‘gifted’ students in the third grade were under the class average.