Pygmalion in the Classroom

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Pygmalion in the Classroom is a 1968 book by Robert Rosenthal and Lenore Jacobson about the effects of teacher expectation on first and second grade student performance.[1] The idea conveyed in the book is that if teachers' expectations about student ability are manipulated early, those expectations will carry over to affect teacher behavior, which in turn will influence how the students will perform on an IQ test. Inducing high expectations in teachers will lead to high levels of IQ test performance. Inducing low expectations, will lead to low IQ test performance.

Robert L. Thorndike, the leading educational psychologist of his era, found serious flaws in the instrument used to assess the IQ scores of the children in the Pygmalion study.[2] One regular class in the study had a mean Reasoning IQ score deep in the retarded range, an impossibility. Thorndike concluded that the study's findings were worthless, summing up his evaluation of the instrument by writing, "When the clock strikes thirteen, doubt is not only cast on the last stroke but also on all that have come before....When the clock strikes 14, we throw away the clock."[2] Meta-analytic research has found that the amount of time a teacher spends getting to know students prior to the induction of IQ-related expectancies reduces the impact of expectancy induction.[3] The findings indicate when teachers have gotten to know their students for more than two weeks prior to expectancy induction, the influence of expectancy induction is virtually nil.

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  1. ^ Rosenthal, R., & Jacobson, L. (1968). Pygmalion in the classroom: Teacher expectation and pupils' intellectual development. New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston
  2. ^ a b Thorndike, R.L. (1968). Reviewed work: Pygmalion in the classroom by Robert Rosenthal and Lenore Jacobson.American Educational Research Journal, 5(4), 708-711.
  3. ^ Raudenbush, S. W. (1984). Magnitude of teacher expectancy effects on pupil IQ as a function of the credibility of expectancy induction: A synthesis of findings from 18 experiments. Journal of Educational Psychology, 76, 85-97. doi:10.1037/0022-0663.76.1.85