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Pygmalion in the Classroom


By: Robert Rosenthal & Lenore Jacobson

Price: CAD $26.95

Publisher: CROWN HOUSE PUBLISHING

Imprint: Crown House Publishing

268 Pages

9.13 X 6.14 X 0.67 ins

ISBN:  9781904424062 -- Paperback

Publication Date: 04/01/2003

The 'Pygmalion phenomenon' is the self-fulfilling prophecy embedded in teachers' expectations. Simply put, when teachers expect students to do well and show intellectual growth, they do; when teachers do not have such expectations, performance and growth are not encouraged and may in fact be discouraged in a variety of ways.

Research suggests that our expectations strongly influence the performance of those around us from the members of our football team to the students in our classes. In the Oak School experiment, discussed in the book, teachers were led to believe that certain students selected at random were likely to be showing signs of a spurt in intellectual growth and development. At the end of the year, the students of whom the teachers had these expectations showed significantly greater gains in intellectual growth that did those in the control group.


Professor Rosenthal's research has centred for over 40 years on the role of the self-fulfilling prophecy in everyday life and in laboratory situations. Special interests include the effects of teacher's expectations on students' academic and physical performance, the effects of experimenters' expectations on the results of their research, and the effects of clinicians' expectations on their patients' mental and physical health. For some 40 years he has been studying the role of nonverbal communication in (a) the mediation of interpersonal expectancy effects and in (b) the relationship between members of small work groups and small social groups. He also has strong interests in sources of artifact in behavioral research and in various quantitative procedures. In the realm of data analysis, his special interests are in experimental design and analysis, contrast analysis, and meta-analysis. His most recent books and articles are about these areas of data analysis and about the nature of nonverbal communication in teacher-student, doctor-patient, manager-employee, judge-jury, and psychotherapist-client interaction. He is Co-Chair of the Task Force on Statistical Inference of the American Psychological Association.

Lenore Jacobson was principal of an elementary school in the South San Francisco Unified School District in 1963 when she started a correspondence with Harvard psychologist Robert Rosenthal which led to the influential Pygmalion Effect study.



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