‘Believe in me, and I will too’: a study of how teachers’ expectations instilled confidence in Grade 10 students

Olivia Johnston, Helen Wildy, Jennifer Shand

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Teacher expectation research has continued to establish an association between what teachers expect of their students and what students accomplish academically. These expectations affect students when they are communicated by teachers through differential treatment in the class, but no qualitative research has sought adolescent students’ points of view about how they experience teacher expectation effects. This paper presents new research findings that explain how Grade 10 students experienced their teachers’ expectations in ways that they reflected impacted their academic outcomes. Classic grounded theory methods were used to develop this new knowledge, which has implications for how teachers are educated for, and practice, interacting with secondary school students. The findings are grounded in data from more than 100 interviews with students and 175 classroom observations in three Western Australian metropolitan public secondary schools. Students’ voices are projected, explaining how their teachers convey high academic expectations through classroom interactions that instil confidence in students. The discussion invokes a connection to Bandura’s Social Cognitive Theory and its enduring tenants of self-efficacy beliefs and mastery learning experiences.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1535-1556
Number of pages22
JournalSocial Psychology of Education
Issue number6
Early online date2021
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2021


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