31 SES 14 A, Expectations of Teachers Regarding Migrant Pupils and School Success: Exclusion effect of a narrow focus on the school language
It has long been established that teachers’ expectations about students’ potential for school success can influences students’ performance (Rosenthal & Jacobsen, 1968). Too often, students from migrant backgrounds are viewed as having lower potential which, according to Nieto & Bode (2008, p. 73), can end up being a “self-fulfilling prophecy.” These negative views often contrast with parents’ expectations and hopes for their children’s success. This paper is an initial exploration of how Finnish teachers’ (N=820) expectations for their multilingual learners compare with the views of a selected group of immigrant parents (N=14). The data were gathered using two different surveys. Factor analysis of quantitative data from the teacher survey identified “teachers’ expectations” as a salient variable. Teachers’ views were then compared to responses to open-ended questions of parents of Russian background. Results indicated that 57.7% of the teachers had positive and 42.3% negative beliefs regarding students’ potential for school success. More than a third of the participants (36.7%) considered it reasonable to have lower classroom expectations for students who don’t speak Finnish as their home language. About half of the teachers (51.4%) reported that whether students succeed in school depends primarily on how hard they work. The teachers’ experience in teaching migrants had a significant influence on their beliefs (p<0.0001), as well as their position as classroom teacher, subject teacher at secondary school, special education teacher or principal (p<0.005): special education teachers had more positive expectations than other teachers. Further, only a minor part of the teachers used their students’ native languages as resources for learning. The results will be presented in more detail in the presentation. Parents’ expectations for school were high, and they were disappointed because they felt that teachers were neither expecting nor requiring enough from their children. The parents reported that they would have wanted teachers to have more demanding tasks, especially for children thought to be talented. Moreover, the parents claimed that their children’s low motivation in school was caused by low demands/challenges at school. While it is not possible to directly match the opinions of the respondents to the parents’ survey with the teachers who responded to the teachers’ survey, the fact that more than third of the teachers reported that having low expectations was reasonable supports the parents’ concern. Findings suggest that teachers would benefit from more interaction with immigrant parents to uncover their hopes for their children. Further investigation is necessary.
Nieto, S. & Bode, P. (2008). Affirming Diversity: The Sociopolitical context of multicultural education, 5th ed. Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon. Rosenthal, R. & Jacobsen, L. (1968). Pygmalion in the Classroom. Teacher Expectation and Pupils' Intellectual Development. The Urban Review 3 (1), pp. 16-20.
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