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Chelsea Colatriano

October 1

Dr. James Paradis, Dean of Upper School, US History


The research that I would like to focus upon is the "Harvard Test of Inflected Acquisition.' Harvard psychologist, Robert Rosenthal, teamed with the school principal, Lenore Jacobson, to study the tendency of certain students to "bloom"—to have a considerable spurt of academic progress. At the beginning of the research, students in that school took a test that, when analyzed, identified students who possessed that trait. Students were not informed of the results of the test. Only the teachers were given a list of the students in their class who were found to possess this ability. They were told not to share this with students.

At the end of the year, as predicted, the "bloomers" did better on IQ tests, although only the boys tended to show significant gains. Then teachers were informed that the stated purpose of the experiment was bogus. There was no such thing as inherent "inflected acquisition," and the students on the list were simply chosen at random.

Why did students improve intellectually? The answer, because the teacher expected them to learn and grow.Teachers treated the "bloomers" differently because of these expectations.

What are the factors that characterized the teachers' communication with "Bloomers?"Rosenthal identified four factors:

  1. Climate – Teachers created a warmer climate for those for whom they have a more favorable expectation.They are "nicer" to them verbally and through non-verbal communication.
  2. Input – Teaches taught more material to those with favorable expectations. They felt it was worth their effort.
  3. Response opportunity factor - Teachers gave bloomers more opportunity to respond, called on them more often, and let them talk longer.Teachers tended to work with the "bloomers" and to work together with them to shape their answers.
  4. Feedback - Teachers praise students more for good answers and give more differentiated feedback when they give an incorrect answer.(Teachers with low expectations are willing to accept a low-quality response.)With high expectations, a teacher will clarify what would have been a high-quality response.

My takeaway is that teaching is a dynamic process; it becomes a synergy.Learning and teaching are all about relationships.I have to think of every student as a blooming scholar because they are.And I have to talk to every student as a blooming scholar.I communicate what I think of them even if I am not aware of it.The higher regard I communicate with them, the higher their potential for intellectual growth.

We have invested time with Neuroteach examining what goes on in students' minds when they learn. As we continue with Neuroteach we would benefit from examining what goes on in teachers' minds when they teach.

Sources:

  • Evens, Judith T. and Rosenthal, Robert."Interpersonal Self-Fulfilling Prophecies: Further Extrapolations from the Laboratory to the Classroom." The Urban Review. 3: 1(September 1968): 16-222. https://doi.org/10.1007/BF02322211
  • Rosenthal, R. & Jacobson, L. Pygmalion in the Classroom: Teacher Expectation and Pupils' Intellectual Development.New York: Holt, Rineholt, and Winston, 1968
  • Zimbardo, Philip. Discovering Psychology Series, part 20, "Constructing Social Reality" Revised 2001, Annenberg Foundation, 2017 https://www.learner.org/vod/vod_window.html?pid=15...
  • Educational Blogs