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Pygmalion in the classroom


In 1965 the authors conducted an experiment in a public elementary school, telling teachers that certain children could be expected to be “growth spurters,” based on the students' results on the Harvard Test of Inflected Acquisition. In point of fact, the test was nonexistent and those children designated as “spurters” were chosen at random. What Rosenthal and Jacobson hoped to determine by this experiment was the degree (if any) to which changes in teacher expectation produce changes in student achievement.

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Robert Rosenthal is professor of social psychology at Harvard University.

Lenore Jacobson is an elementary school principal in the South San Francisco Unified School District.

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Rosenthal, R., Jacobson, L. Pygmalion in the classroom. Urban Rev 3, 16–20 (1968).

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