Promoting Expectation and Efficacy in the Learning-Centered Classroom

Article excerpt

Educators who have established a confident, effective attitude toward their own classroom role expect a classroom environment that promotes learning.

In recent years teacher preparation programs have promoted shifting the focus from teacher-centered classrooms to student-centered environments. This newer, stu-dent-centered model mistakenly underestimates the teacher's critical role in the learning process. The use of the student-centered label obviates the need to envision the classroom as a dynamic, multifaceted relationship between teachers and students.

The label "learning-centered" rightly suggests the need to put learning at the core of the educational agenda. This label supersedes the mere naming of a movement, but really encapsulates the ultimate goal of the classroom. As a former high school teacher, and most recently as a university faculty member preparing future educators, I am com-mitted to providing a reflective opportu-nity to promote improved practice and influence healthier self-efficacy beliefs among future teachers.

A teacher's sense of efficacy is the extent to which he or she believes the students can learn the material under his or her direction. The interdependent relationship between teacher efficacy and teacher expectation is evident.

Educators who have established a confident, effective attitude toward their own classroom role expect a classroom environment that promotes learning. Brophy (1988) suggests "achievement is maximized when teachers: (1) emphasize instruction as basic to their role, (2) expect students to master the curriculum, and (3) al-locate most available time to academic activities" (p. 240). These attributes promote an aura of accountability for both student and teacher. In this para-digm, learning is at the center and the teacher is modeling expectation, which in turn sends a message to the stu-dents that there are distinct criteria for success and the teacher believes he or she can master these criteria. The the-oretical premises of expectancy theory impacts the treatment of students at all levels. Taking into consideration the autonomous nature of university class-rooms, teacher certification candidates will benefit from instruction and assess-ment designed to overtly promote effi-cacy and expectation. The bi-directional nature of expectation and performance is fundamental to human nature and can be observed as pre-service teach-ers experience and grapple with the learning curve connected to teaching competence.

Expectations Influence Outcomes

Rosenthal and Jacobson's (1968) "Pygmalion in the Classroom" revo-lutionized the discourse surrounding expectancy theory. The experiments conducted revealed that teachers' expectations of student performance influence self-fulfilling prophecies. The authors suggest an important result of their work is that teacher-training pro-grams need to address the topic of ex-pectation. The knowledge of damaging self-fulfilling prophecies should result in a new expectancy, one that is optimistic about student achievement. Rosenthal and Jacobson state that a "new expec-tancy, at the very least, will make it more difficult when they encounter the educationally disadvantaged for teach-ers to think,'Well, after all, what can you expect'" (p. 182).

This seminal study provides empiri-cal support for the notion that negative self-fulfilling prophecies are propound-ed by teacher expectation. As stated in Eccles and Roesser (1999), time in school makes up the largest extra-familial context for students. Because of this fact, school communities should have a heightened awareness of expec-tation effects.

Much research has been gleaned supporting the existence of the expec-tancy phenomena. In his review of the expectancy literature, Jussim (1986) deconstructs the phenomena into three successive stages. The first stage is the teacher's development of expectations; the second, the teacher's treatment of students, and the third, the student reacts to the treatment in a confirm-ing manner. …