Teacher-Expectancy Effect and Education Theories


Education is an instrumental discipline that mainly focuses on the art of equipping learners with desirable skills within a school-based environment. Teachers’ expectations of students’ performance strongly correlate with the learners’ academic excellence and influence how the scholars perform during the teacher-learner interaction. Conversely, the teachers-expectancy effect fundamentally impacts the tutor’s expectations regarding the specified students’ performance on the actual academic performances. The grouping of students based on their performances by the teachers adversely affects the low performers, and most of them never improve in their studies. Therefore, this paper will focus on analyzing the teachers-expectancy effect to establish the correlation with labelling theory, self-fulfilling prophecy, and ability tracking theory to effectively address learners’ underlying issues.

The Teachers-Expectancy Effect

The teacher-expectancy effect implies the actual perception of the students as embedded in the tutor’s mind. Such perception results in the student’s classification as either above average, below average, or standard. A unique study indicated that tutors’ perception alters how students perceive themselves and often correlates with their actual performance (Boström et al., 540). As a result, when a teacher groups students as low performing, the scholars are instilled with fear, which has two impacts. Such occurrence results in shifting their perceptions of actual performance. In contrast, some students tend to develop a desire to seek other outlets for positive feedback to improve, and others resort to living down by their teachers-expectations and often underperform in the long run.

Labelling theory maintains that the teacher’s actions to label students in a particular way often result in similar outcomes regarding their performance. According to the theory, teachers actively group the students based on their definitive class abilities (Keirns et al.). As a result, occurrence of distinct groups of qualifications, such as the high and low ability. Consequently, Students judgment is often attributed to their behaviors, attitudes directed toward learning, and previous academic performance. Therefore, the theory directly relates to the teachers-expectancy effect as it justifies the existence of a positive correlation between the students labeling by the educators and their actual class achievement.

Changes in students’ perception result in alteration of their behaviors to suit their predefined labeling standards, impacting their ultimate achievement levels within the class. For instance, the teachers’ labels given to the students strongly affect their academic construction and scholars’ development in terms of identities and self-concepts(Keirns et al.). Similarly, the labeling effects affect the student’s self-perception and interaction with others. As a result, shaping their attitudes towards the particular discipline.

The self-fulfilling prophecy is a vital concept that replicates the aspects of teachers-expectancy effects on students’ performance. According to this theory, students are depicted to accept their labels as per their teachers-expectations and replicate the same in their true performance (Trusz, 258). Therefore, the relationship between the teacher-expectancy effect and self-fulfilling prophecy depicts a positive correlation. Additionally, the two are interlinked because the educators’ actions to classify the students into different groups result in replicating the predefined classifications. A study indicated that when the teacher perceives students as high achievers, they shape their attitude toward their studies and get motivated to replicate the same identity in their respective academic achievements (Szumski et al.) However, terming and classifying the students as low-performance results in demoralizing how they interact in a school environment. As a result, shaping their attitudes to live by the set low standard hence underperforming in the actual achievements.

Arguably, teacher-expectancy theory directly relates to ability tracking, particularly how teachers segregate the students based on their actual ability. Moreover, ability tracking entails subgrouping students in a segregated manner which is mainly associated with their academic capabilities. According to the book, segregation instills students with the attitude that manifests their performance based on the groups they are tracked within. Teacher expectancy theory also enables them to classify and segregate students based on early preconceived features. Such features directly relate to students’ performance ability and have the capability to influence their final output.

Teacher-expectancy effects have visibly been in practice within my institution. However, I have successfully managed to evade the related victimization after my decision to positively engage in my tutor labeling effects. For instance, during my first year, a newly appointed tutor conducted a general overview of our previous performance, after which he ended classifying us based on our qualifications. Although, most of my friends were affected as they failed to overcome the effect associated with the ability-based grouping. At the time of classification, I was within the average performer’s group. However, it was less encouraging. Comparatively, I managed to work on my studies to elevate my status to attain better qualifications. Unfortunately, my classmates who befell in low average performance during the ability tracking failed to improve. As a result, two of them quit their studies following a series of poor performances. The classification negatively affected two of my colleagues, who could not take more criticism as they lost interest due to continuing negative attitudes toward further studies.


Finally, teachers-expectancy effect directly correlated with labeling theory, self-fulfilling prophecy, and ability tracking. In all the instances, students’ perception of self and performance in terms of academic achievement had a positive correlation with their tutor’s expectations. As a result, educators should shape their ideology and perception to avert adversity associated with their negative beliefs about earners’ performance.

Works Cited

Boström, Erika, and Torulf Palm. “Expectancy-value theory as an explanatory theory for the effect of professional development programmes in formative assessment on teacher practice.” Teacher Development 24.4 (2020): 539-558.

Keirns, Nathan, et al. Introduction to Sociology 2e. Amsterdam University Press, 2016.

Szumski, Grzegorz, and Maciej Karwowski. “Exploring the Pygmalion effect: The role of teacher expectations, academic self-concept, and class context in students’ math achievement.” Contemporary Educational Psychology 59 (2019).

Trusz, Sławomir. “Four mediation models of teacher expectancy effects on students’ outcomes in mathematics and literacy.” Social Psychology of Education 21.2 (2018): 257-287.

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ChalkyPapers. "Teacher-Expectancy Effect and Education Theories." April 15, 2023. https://chalkypapers.com/teacher-expectancy-effect-and-education-theories/.