Toronto: The school environment in which teachers work affects their expectations about students, says a new study.
"While we know that expectations are primarily determined by the specific characteristics of teachers, we have shown that the school environment also plays a determining role" in what teachers come to expect from their students, said Marie-Christine Brault, researcher at University of Montreal in Canada.
To measure the impact the school environment has in determining these expectations, the researchers conducted a multilevel analysis using data from 2,666 teachers in 71 secondary schools in Quebec.
From these data, the researchers could distinguish between two levels of variables -- the teacher: His/her perception of "school climate", gender, age, courses taught; and the school: its academic, socio-economic, ethnic composition, and the way the entire school community perceived the "school climate".
The socio-economic and ethnic composition of students in the school, as well as the school academic composition defined by student drop-out rates, academic delays, poor student scores on logical reasoning scales, and the number of students designated as being in difficulty according to criteria set by the Ministry of Education, all play a role in determining expectations.
However, school academic composition is the most influential.
The school composition indirectly affects expectations: academic difficulties and ethnic background of students influence school climate and therefore, indirectly, teacher expectations, noted the study.
The findings suggest that by intervening in the educational climate of schools by ensuring that all teachers are committed to the success of their students, teacher expectations can improve, concluded Brault.