In their study, Rosenthal and Jacobson (1966) relied on the results of experiments involving animal subjects. Their findings showed that the expectations of the researchers and their perception of the intellectual capacity of the subjects determine the performance of the latter. As a result, the objective of the present research was to test this theory in the schools using teachers as the source of expectations and the younger school children as subjects.
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The participants were elementary school children who undertook a test. Overall, there were 18 classrooms of participants. The children were divided into two main groups – those with “unusual potential” (as perceived by the teachers), and the control group. About 20% of students in each of the participating classrooms were reported by their teachers to possess unusual learning potential and a tendency for greater IQ gains.
The tool used for the evaluation of the children’s learning capacities and the IQ gains was TOGA, Test of General Ability, developed by Flanagan in 1960 and specialized in such skills as writing, arithmetic, and reading. The test included two main domains for evaluation – reasoning and verbal. The latter was designed to measure the children’s vocabulary, concept knowledge, and information, and the former item targeted such ability as concept formation based on the drawing of abstract lines. TOGA was specifically developed by its author in order to provide the researchers with an opportunity to evaluate the intellectual capacities of the individuals; even those whose learning was not based on the standard educational curriculum.
During the research, Flanagan’s test was held in each of the participating classrooms masked as an assessment designed to determine academic success and intellectual capacity of the students. In every class, the children were divided into groups based on their levels of performance – above average, average, and below average. Further, 20% of the children were selected as recognized for their high scores. In reality, the performance and scores of the children were not taken into consideration, but their names were chosen randomly and given to the teachers for the latter to believe that these students possessed some outstanding learning abilities. In eight months, the performance and IQ gains of the students was reassessed with the same test in order to determine the changes.
After systematizing the results and evaluating the changes, the researchers noticed that the performance of the 20% of the children (those who were named as the most capable ones) was significantly better than their results from the past evaluation. To be more precise, the students from the experimental group have gained on average 24.8 IQ points. In contrast, the children from the control group showed a gain of 16.2 IQ points only.
Discussion and Evaluation
The study concluded that the connection between the teachers’ expectations (IV) and the learners’ performance (DV) was clear. However, the researchers wondered whether or not the high level of IQ gains in the experimental group was the cause of the lower gain in the control group. Another question that concerned the authors was the mechanism according to which this connection worked or how the IV is impacted at schools in the first place. The study provides full information and is written in a detailed manner with demonstrations of variables. One aspect that could be criticized is the use of shortenings such as Es and Ss without the explanation of their meaning that is slightly confusing.