Well, What Did You Expect? Free Poster

Inside: A teacher’s attitude and expectations affect student performance.

You’ve probably heard it said many times throughout your teaching career to have high expectations for ALL your students.

But you might be asking yourself why, what’s the point, when all the facts, data and history around certain children say otherwise.

Here’s why.

It’s something called the EXPECTANCY EFFECT.

Years ago, in 1963 to be precise, scientists at Harvard University decided to test the expectancy effect: If you expect something to happen, you’re more likely to perceive it happening.

In this test, some Harvard students were given some lab rats. One group of students was told their rats were “maze smart” while the other group was told their rats were “maze dull”.

But in reality, the rats had been randomly selected; there were no known “maze smart” and “maze dull” rats.

After the students performed their maze tests, you guessed it, the so-called “maze smart” rats far out-performed their cohorts (Rosenthal & Fode, 1963) (Dawson, 2018, p. 190).

But here’s where it gets really interesting:

Rosenthal then performed a similar experiment with teachers. He told them that tests showed that certain of their students were entering a year of academic flourishing. In reality, these students had also been selected at random. At the end of the year, the IQ tests of the designated students were higher than the control group (Rosenthal & Jacobson, 1963) (Dawson, 2018, p. 191).

Cool, hey?

If nothing else, it definitely makes you stop and think about your attitude and expectations regarding your students.

I know it’s hard sometimes to raise your expectations around certain kids. Especially when you’re dealing with a child who’s really struggling with academics or appropriate behaviour. I’ve been there!

But I thought these two studies were a really good reminder (especially during those challenging times) to stay positive and keep those expectations high for ALL your students.


Here’s a poster for you! It’s letter-sized and would look great in a frame hanging above your desk. Just saying.


Click the pic to grab
The Expectancy Effect. Free Poster for your classroom. Expect the best from your students!

Thanks for reading!


Church, D. (2018).  Mind to Matter, 190-191.

Click the image to see the book on Amazon.




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