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Teacher Expectations

The concept of teacher expectations is used to describe both teachers' beliefs about students' academic potential and the standards that teachers set for students in the classroom. The first definition has fueled debates about the following:

  • Whether stereotypes (based on gender, race/ethnicity, social class, and even physical attractiveness) bias teachers' perceptions of students
  • Whether teachers' expectations influence students' educational outcomes
  • What processes generate these “expectancy effects”

While research on these questions has often produced conflicting evidence, in general, scholars conclude that teachers are generally relatively accurate in their perceptions of students, and that expectancy effects on student outcomes are minimal at best. Research adopting the second definition examines the standards that teachers set for students in the classroom and their relationship to social inequalities. While the evidence is ...

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