The influence of students’ ethnicity on teacher expectations and teacher perceptions of student warmth and competence
Background: According to previous research, incorrect teacher expectations about students can affect students’ academic success and school performance. Moreover, students’ ethnicity was found to be one of the most influencial characteristics regarding teacher expectations as the latter can be based on ethnic stereotypes. Most studies test this relationship by comparing teacher expectations toward multiple ethnic groups. However, in current research we propose another perspective, assuming that the presence of the connection between ethnic stereotypes and expectations may be determined by the content of stereotypes.
Objective: This study examines the influence of students’ ethnicity on teacher expectations and stereotypes, as well as the relationship of teacher expectations and stereotypes in relation to ethnic minority students by including the stereotype content model in the analysis.
Design: 34 primary school teachers participated in the experiment in which they analyzed six students’ profiles, two of which were experimental. Experimental profiles contained identical information but differed in names of the students and their parents and additionally in migration background. Thus, we manipulated only information related to ethnicity and migration history of two students.
Results: Teacher expectations about the performance of the minority student were always unfavorable compared with the expectations about the performance of the majority student but expectations about the abilities of minority and majority students, which include teacher beliefs about students’ educational skills, attitudes and motivation, capacity for work in school class, were mixed. We also discovered that the teacher expectations positively related to the perceptions of competence and were not related to the perceptions of warmth. However, the minority student was evaluated by teachers as warm and competent as the majority.
Conclusion: This study shows the relevance of the problem of correct expectations of teachers in relation to students with different ethnic backgrounds.