Does enhancing teacher expectation benefit pupils?

A recent study published in Learning and Individual Differences investigates the effects of an intervention in China that enhances teachers’ approaches to conveying high expectations to pupils.

The researchers randomly selected two schools in an urban area of a city in south China. Four grade 8 (Year 9) English teachers in each school were randomly chosen and evenly assigned 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 pupils challenging tasks, providing affirmation or suggestions to pupils about their performance, and enhancing how teachers impart personal regard to pupils.

Teachers were asked to estimate the final exam score they believed each pupil would achieve for the study to categorise pupils into high-, middle- and low-expectation groups. Then, the researchers selected 30 pupils from each class, consisting of 10 each of high-, middle-, and low-expectation pupils, to participate in the study. Among the 240 pupils selected, 229 pupils provided complete data for analysis. Pupils’ self-concepts regarding English and the English test achievement of 113 pupils from the intervention group and 116 pupils from the control group were gathered at the end of Grade 7 (Year 8) and at the middle and the end of Grade 8 (Year 9).

Results showed that:

  • While the self-concept of pupils from the control group significantly declined from the end of grade 7 (Year 8) to the end of grade 8 (Year 9), the self-concept of mid- and low-expectation pupils from the intervention group significantly increased over the year.
  • English achievement increased for pupils in the intervention group, while no significant changes were found among pupils in the control group.
  • Low-expectation pupils exhibited the most gains in both self-concept and achievement.

The authors conclude that teachers giving challenging tasks, detailed feedback, and enhanced personal regard to pupils has a positive impact on improving pupils’ self-belief and academic achievement.

Source: Teacher expectation intervention: Is it effective for all students? (August 2019), Learning and Individual Differences, Volume 74

Inattentive students can fall behind

Students with attention problems can fall behind their peers, even if their problems are only mild, according to a new study in Learning and Individual Differences.

The researchers studied 46,369 children in 1,812 English primary schools. Children’s early reading and mathematics were assessed at the start of school. Rating scales were completed by class teachers at the end of their first year, with nine items related to inattention, six items to hyperactivity and three items to impulsivity. English and mathematics attainment was measured using the end of Key Stage 2 (Year 6) statutory tests.

There was a strong negative association between inattention and attainment. If a child met one additional criterion on the nine-point scale related to inattention, their progress toward mathematics and English attainment at age 11 was 0.1 standard deviations below that of their peers of similar deprivation and the same sex. A child meeting all nine inattention criteria was almost one standard deviation lower in English and mathematics than a child meeting no criteria.

Impulsivity was associated with an academic advantage, although the effect size was much smaller than for inattention. If all three impulsivity criteria were met, the advantage amounted to 0.15 and 0.12 standard deviations difference in mathematics and English respectively. Hyperactivity was weakly negatively related to attainment although the association was not statistically significant.

The findings suggest that children with quite modest levels of inattention are at risk of poor academic outcomes, which adds to current knowledge. Such children could be identified by class teachers and could benefit from appropriate school-based interventions.

Source: A longitudinal study of the association between inattention, hyperactivity and impulsivity and children’s academic attainment at age 11 (2016), Learning and Individual Differences.