There is an achievement gap between students of different ethnic groups. An important alterable contributor to academic achievement is teacher expectations—the beliefs teachers hold about their students’ academic capabilities. Teacher expectations affect students’ academic performance—high expectations are associated with higher academic performance and low expectations are associated with lower academic performance. Using a survey, we collected data from 140 teachers at a teacher conference in March 2017. In addition to demographic questions, the survey had two scales that gathered information about teacher expectations and behaviours. Differential item functioning analyses showed that teachers had higher expectations for Asian Canadian students and lower expectations for Indigenous students compared with European Canadian students. Explanatory item response modeling showed teachers with six or more years of teaching experience, and teachers above 35 years old, had higher expectations for their students. Teachers did not report behaving differently towards different groups of students. Therefore, there appears to be a discrepancy between teacher expectations and their reported behaviours toward students from various ethnic groups. Implications for future research include exploring if reported behaviours can be observed in the classroom. In addition, there may be a need to modify teacher expectations within teacher education programs.
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The first author would like to acknowledge the financial support that was provided by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada through the Joseph-Armand Bombardier Canada Graduate Scholarship program.
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Flanagan, A.M., Cormier, D.C. & Bulut, O. Achievement may be rooted in teacher expectations: examining the differential influences of ethnicity, years of teaching, and classroom behaviour. Soc Psychol Educ 23, 1429–1448 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11218-020-09590-y