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Social Perception and Social RealityWhy Accuracy Dominates Bias and Self-Fulfilling Prophecy$
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Lee Jussim

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780195366600

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195366600.001.0001

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Teacher Expectations

Teacher Expectations

Accuracy and the Quest for the Powerful Self-Fulfilling Prophecy

(p.219) 13 Teacher Expectations
Social Perception and Social Reality

Lee Jussim

Oxford University Press

This chapter is framed around reviewing the scientific and empirical literature that has addressed three questions regarding teacher expectations: How powerful are expectancy effects in the classroom? How accurate is the typical teacher expectation? Have any conditions been identified under which truly powerful self-fulfilling prophecies do occur? The results regarding the first two questions are vividly clear because they have been so well established by so many studies: Expectancy effects in the classroom exist but are generally weak, fragile, and fleeting, and teacher expectations predict student achievement primarily because those expectations are accurate. A far more limited body of scientific research has addressed the third question, so that conclusions regarding conditions under which powerful self-fulfilling prophecies occur must be held more tentatively. Nonetheless, unusually large self-fulfilling prophecies have been found among students suffering from some sort of stigma (race, class, low achievement). Whether self-fulfilling prophecies primarily help or harm students, however, is currently unclear from the existing literature, with my own research finding helpful self-fulfilling prophecy effects among the largest yet found, but several other studies finding more evidence of harmful than of helpful self-fulfilling prophecies.

Keywords:   accuracy, self-fulfilling prophecy, teacher expectations

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