High Expectations in the Classroom

11 Oct

Expectations play an important role in education. Students who are expected to get good grades and go on to college usually do, but what about those who are the focus of lower expectations? By projecting high expectations for all students, teachers can motivate children to achieve more, leading them to a brighter future.

Importance of High Expectations

o    According to Ross Miller of the Association of American Colleges and Universities, raising expectations can lead to higher achievement, and numerous studies show that people with high expectations perform at a higher level than those with low expectations, even when their abilities are equal. High expectations can even transform a student’s belief and behavior and turn a low-performing student into a successful learner.


o    Miller asserts that the Pygmalion effect — people will perform how you expect them to — can also have a negative effect. With the prevalence of standardized tests, many schools expect students to pass the test and therefore focus on teaching only the minimum needed to pass, rather than challenging them to do more. According to the North Central Regional Educational Laboratory (NCREL), engaging students in a challenging, fast-paced curriculum produces positive academic and social outcomes. Activities that encourage critical thinking and inquiry communicate the expectation that students are capable of higher-level thinking, complex problem-solving and decision-making.

Developing High Expectations in the Classroom

o    Several factors can project higher expectations to students. First, create an environment conducive to learning in your classroom. Increase the input you give to students, because expending more time and effort shows that you expect more. Finally, encourage students to give responses and increased output; students will do the work you expect them to do if they feel you support them.

The NCREL reports that the most effective way to convey high expectations to students is to establish personal relationships that communicate support, simply telling students, “I know you can do it; I believe in you.” You must provide the support children need to achieve what you expect. Look for each student’s strengths and find ways to use them to facilitate learning. Even students with the lowest self-esteem can become motivated when they feel that a teacher believes in them, and this can lead them to believe in themselves and have higher expectations for their own future.

Factors That Shape Expectations

o    Miller writes that measured ability often shapes teacher expectations, but this shouldn’t always be true. Teachers usually project high expectations for students with high ability, such as gifted or honors students, and these students usually succeed in school and go on to post-secondary education. When a student’s failure is attributed to low ability, a teacher will begin to expect less in the future.

But many students mask their own ability because of laziness, low self-esteem or rebellion. These students can blossom into high achievers when they know more is expected of them. Accordingly, students who believe they have low ability because of years of low expectations will eventually lose their motivation to learn. A teacher who has high expectations and teaches students that success is linked more to effort than to ability can help these students succeed.

Sometimes, teachers alter expectations according to race, ethnicity, life experiences and socioeconomic status, but according to Miller, successful teachers have uniformly high expectations for every student. According to the NCREL, schools with high expectations and support to help students achieve these expectations have fewer students who drop out and more who go on to college.

Expectations for Teachers

o    Miller writes that teachers who doubt their own efficacy exert less effort in instructing students, leading to lower student performance. Likewise, school administrators must exhibit high expectations for all teachers. Schools should strive to create a climate of high expectations, which will motivate teachers and students to achieve more.


Our Summary

Expectations play an important role in teaching and learning activities, either it is positive or negative. Ross Miller of the Association of American Colleges and Universities said that who have expectations will have motivation to have a higher achievement than who are not. Miller said Pygmalion effect also has negative side. For example, many school focus to make the students be able to pass examination, whereas the main purposes of education some not only that. Education is more about creating people to be ready to face the world using some skills like problem solving, critical thinking, etc.

People who are expected to do something usually will only focus to what they are expected to. To make students have high expectations, teacher has to build a personal relationship and support them. Students will have more motivation if teacher believes in them. Teacher usually has high expectation to students who have high ability and less to students who have low ability. Laziness and low self esteem are some aspects which can block students to have high ability. Teacher must help them to find out their own expectation, motivate and support them to become a high achiever. School also needs to have high expectation to the teacher and help them to help students.



Ismi Apriliani

Nur Arifin

Rahayu Kinasih

Triana Afriani



1 Comment

Posted by on October 11, 2011 in Articles


One response to “High Expectations in the Classroom

  1. F Aladyn

    October 12, 2011 at 8:16 pm

    Dear group 4. Your post is quite interesting and you know what. It remembers me about my research method 1 final project; research video. And I took the same case with your post, High Expectation. I agree so much with this article because teachers sometimes only pay attention toward good and gifted students and they call it as “anak emas (sounds like name of snack) ” in classroom, but they don’t realize that they only focus on giving high expectation to particular students, whereas the whole students need being expected by the teachers. Focusing on increasing special students’ expectation in the class might cause jealousy from other students. Therefore, the students who are neglected will not work and study hard because they think that their teachers never need to explore their abilities.


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