Effects of Teachers Expectations on Student Performance

Effects of Teachers Expectations on Student Performance


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Effects of Teachers Expectations on Student Performance

Teachers’ expectations put pressure on students and in the end, influence the academic performance of the students. The expectations may be right or wrong. However, students tend to believe that these cannot be wrong, and turn them into a self-fulfilling prophecy. They therefore, adjust their behaviors to meet their teachers’ expectations. If the teachers’ expectations are erroneous, this adversely affects the performance of students, and vice versa. In this paper, I will address the effects of teachers’ expectations on the academic performance of lower grade students, bearing in mind the nature of these expectations, whether they are right or are misguided.

Expectations of teachers manifest themselves in the way they treat their students especially lower grade students who are still undergoing cognitive development. Most teachers exhibit differential behavior toward students, depending on their intellectual abilities. Such behavior may be appropriate or not. If much attention is paid to the bright students only, the rest will be disadvantaged, and may lose interest in the learning. Teachers should expect the best from all their students, irrespective of their abilities. If a teacher publicly declares the weaknesses of their students, they lose confidence in themselves (Begley, 2003).

Teacher expectations of their students vary, depending on the grade they are in and their capabilities in different subjects. However, high expectations occur in the subjects considered ‘tough’ and for students in final grades. These high expectations are meant to make the concerned students work harder and meet them. However, this is not always the case, as different students will interpret this differently. High expectations exert pressure on students, and get discouraged if they fail to meet those expectations. Low expectations make students lose confidence, and interest in learning. The differential behavior by teachers results in widening of the gap between the low and high –achieving students.

Some teachers choose to concentrate on the high achievers only, while others concentrate on the low-achievers as a compensatory strategy. Concentrating on low-achieving students evokes negative treatment from teachers toward such students. Such students may perceive their special treatment to be a result of their incompetency. This makes them develop low expectations of themselves and may not be motivated to work hard.

For teachers to have a positive influence on their students, they should set realistic goals for their students. Unrealistic goals make students feel insufficient. They should encourage the students and point out to them that they are capable of reaching those goals. Secondly, when students fail to understand a technical concept, the teacher should not give up on them. Instead, they should be patient, and break it down to the students, or adopt a different teaching style. Giving up on them will make them feel incompetent, and adversely affect their performance (Begley, 2003).

Thirdly, teachers should adopt different tasks for different groups of students. These tasks must not have specific right answers. This rule out the possibility of comparison, since all student answers will count. Emphasizing the potentials of students is a strategy that will boost students’ motivation, and increase their self-confidence. When students believe in themselves, they are likely to perform better than those who do not believe in their capabilities.

Finally, teachers should treat their students in a warm and friendly manner. Advising students to be responsible in handling their school tasks, and being generally responsible individuals will make them transfer this sense of responsibility to their academics, and this will have a positive influence on their performance.



Begley, S. (2003). Expectations May Alter Outcomes Far More Than We Realize. Wall

Street Journal. Retrieved from





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