Academic journal article Management & Marketing

Pygmalion Teaching Style, Is There a Need for It?

Academic journal article Management & Marketing

Pygmalion Teaching Style, Is There a Need for It?

Article excerpt

Abstract. Herein follows a research and analysis concerning the possible occurrence of the Pygmalion effect, a type of self-fulfilling prophecy, in the classrooms of the Academy of Economic Studies, Bucharest. The purpose of the paper lies in outlining the possible impact the Pygmalion effect can have on students' experience in class, as well as ways of harnessing the positive aspects of this effect in the context of teaching as an act of negotiation between professor and student. While it may be said that the term "self-fulfilling prophecy" is not an accurate way to describe the phenomena in question (Eden, 1992), due to the fact that it is not the prophecy which fulfills itself, but the prophet who, unwittingly, takes a course of action that brings about the initially expected result, the facts described in theory and proven through studies remain accurate. Whatever the approach chosen for the future, the matter certainly proves itself to be a significant one, with a possibly great impact on the quality of education and student engagement, and it certainly deserves a closer look.

Keywords: Pygmalion effect, teaching style, communication effectiveness, self-fulfilling prophecy, ideal teacher profile.

1. Self-fulfilling prophecies, an introduction

Herein follows a research and analysis concerning the possible occurrence of the Pygmalion effect, a type of self-fulfilling prophecy, in the classrooms of the Academy of Economic Studies, Bucharest. The purpose of the paper lies in outlining the possible impact the Pygmalion effect can have on students' experience in class, as well as ways of harnessing the positive aspects of this effect in the context of teaching as an act of negotiation between professor and student.

The present paper is structured in six chapters: an introduction to the concept of self-fulfilling prophecy, literature review on the aforementioned term and Pygmalion effect, implications on the classroom efficiency, teaching as a continuous negotiation, the practical approach to the concept and finally conclusions.

The term self-fulfilling prophecy is used in sociology and psychology in reference to a prediction which, owing to the positive feedback between belief and behavior, causes itself to come true, either directly or indirectly. In literature, examples of such prophecies can be found dating all the way back to ancient Greece and India. The concept itself is rooted in Thomas' (1928, p. 572) theorem, which states that "If men define situations as real, they are real in their consequences". According to Thomas (1928), people react more strongly to the way they perceive the circumstances they are in, and to the meaning they assign to these perceptions, rather than to the situations themselves. It follows that their behavior is determined in the same way, more by perceptions and their interpretation, instead of actual conditions. The consequence of this process lies in the fact that once people become convinced that the meaning of a situation is the one they perceive to be true, it no longer matters whether or not it is, in fact, true, because the actions people take on the basis of their perceptions are real and thus produce real results.

Sociologist Robert K. Merton (1968) is the author credited with introducing the expression "self-fulfilling prophecy", and defining its structure and consequences formally in his "Social Theory and Social Structure". According to him, this type of phenomenon happens when behavior is altered as a result of a falsely defined situation, and ultimately causes this originally false conception to "come true". In other words, expecting an event to occur will increase its likelihood of occurrence. Another significant note of Merton's is that this type of event is not one that appears as standalone in nature, but that is particular to humanity and its affairs. Only people may become so influenced by their beliefs (and in some cases, their delusions) that their reactions end up skewing the course of events and fulfilling an initially false prophecy. …

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