In the field of teacher expectations and pupil learning one important psychological truth is that the pupils’ achievement in learning is strongly influenced by the teachers’ expectations of their level of performance, high or low. Roy Nash discusses critically and fully important research in this area. In the belief that research must be interpreted within an overall theory of social action, the author relates the empirical studies which he examines to an interactionist theory. He emphasizes the importance of making teachers aware of the implications of what they are doing and of the possibility of establishing wider and more educative patterns of interaction. He shows that research into ‘attitudes’, ‘perceptions’, or ‘expectations’ is all essentially concerned with the same problem: how teachers relate to pupils on the basis of a model of what pupils may be.
Much of the work he discusses has direct relevance to teachers in their day-to-day work. The research findings will help them to become more aware of their attitudes and how these influence their actions, and should make them more likely to give all their pupils equal opportunities within their classes. Among the topics covered are observational and experimental studies of teacher expectations, the analysis of classroom climate, self-conceptions, pupils’ perceptions and expectations, and the significance of classroom-based research into teacher/pupil interaction.