Do Teachers Treat Their Students Differently? An Observational Study on Teacher-Student Interactions as a Function of Teacher Expectations and Student Achievement
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AbstractThrough classroom interactions, teachers provide their students with different opportunities to learn. Some kinds of interactions elicit more learning activities than others. With differential treatment of students, teachers may exacerbate or reduce achievement differences in their classroom. In addition, differential interactions may contribute to teacher expectation effects, with teachers treating their high-expectation students more favourably. This study investigated how differential teacher-student interactions are related to students’ mathematics achievement and teachers’ expectations. In eight fourth-grade classrooms in the Netherlands, interactions between teachers and students (N = 152) were observed in maths lessons. Data regarding teachers’ expectations about their students and mathematics achievement tests scores were collected. Analyses indicated that there were relations between teacher expectations and teachers’ classroom interactions. Teachers gave more direct turns and more directive feedback to their low-expectation students, who were also the students who performed low in maths. After controlling for actual achievement, it appeared that students for whom the expectations were lower than could be expected based on their performance received more direct turns and directive task-related feedback. These results point to the existence of teacher expectation effects.