“Pygmalion in the staff room: how the manager’s expectations affect the development of the staff’’ – Part A

(Reading time: 3 - 6 minutes)

Article Index

In our daily lives we all jump to conclusions. People make an impression on us based on the assumptions we make about their skills and abilities.

More often than not the assumptions we make affect the way we behave towards these people, thus making our ‘’prophecies’’ self-fulfilling.

Pygmalion in the classroom by Rosenthal and Jacobson

In 1966 Rosenthal and Jacobson carried out a research at the Oak Primary School, an area inhabited by low-income families, some of them Mexican some of them American.

The two psychologists gave pupils an IQ test without revealing the true reason for their research to the teachers. When they had the test results, they informed the teachers about them.

They didn’t tell the truth, though. They told teachers that the pupils with high IQ were those with lower IQ and vice versa.

The findings were really interesting because some months later when the IQ tests were re-administered, the pupils with the supposedly ‘’lower’’ IQ (who were the intelligent ones) scored a lower IQ, whereas the pupils with the low IQ scored higher than before. What had changed?

The expectancy advantage, which is the term Rosenthal uses to describe the increased expectations teachers have towards their students which consequently creates a more positive attitude towards them .


Maria Sachpazian BA education / RSA dip/tefl (hons)


From the classroom to the staff room

You might wonder what the connection is between the above-mentioned research and school management. I think there is an underlying analogy we ought to highlight. 

School owners are often “accused” of being more attached to their teaching role than to the business one. One business aspect, though, that school owners ought to excel in is Human Resource management, as this is related to their teaching style.

Mike Riley on Teaching, Managing and Leading

Mike Riley on Teaching, Managing and Leading

30 October 2019

Mike Riley is Global Teacher Training Manager at Macmillan Education. He spent over a decade at International House Milan. He...

Chris Roland talks about differentiated instruction

Chris Roland talks about differentiated instruction

30 October 2019

Chris is based in Seville at ELI language academy. He has also taught in Cádiz, Barcelona, Nottingham, Damascus and Aleppo....

Luke Prodromou  talks about ELT  its past, present and future

Luke Prodromou talks about ELT its past, present and future

30 October 2019

Luke Prodromou holds a BA (Bristol University) in English with Greek, an MA in Shakespeare Studies (Birmingham University), a postgraduate...

© 2019 ELT NEWS. All Rights Reserved. Designed By ELT NEWS