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Assess the strengths and limitations of experiments for the study of labelling in schools.

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Introduction

Julita Wegrzyn Using material from Item A and elsewhere assess the strengths and limitations of experiments for the study of labelling in schools. Sociologists claim that many teachers? approach towards pupils of different groups has significant effects which lead to labelling, the self- fulfilling prophecy and unequal achievement. Various experiments may be used in order to investigate these ?expectancy effects? such as field and laboratory experiments. Harvey & Slatin in 1976 have used laboratory experiments to investigate teacher expectations. They examined whether teachers held fixed ideas about pupils of different social classes. Teachers were presented with photographs of children from different social class backgrounds. Teachers were then asked to rate the children on their performance, parental attitudes to education, aspirations and so on. ...read more.

Middle

One third was told that the boy was poorly motivated with a low IQ and One third was given no information. The study has shown that the high expectancy group made more eye contact and gave out more encouraging body language than the low expectancy group. One limitation of this investigation is that there is an ethical concern as real pupils have been used and there was lack of informed consent, problem with deception and psychological damage as young people are vulnerable and their ability to understand what is happening is limited. Strength to this study is that lab experiments usually examine one specific aspect of teacher expectations such as body language this is useful as it allows the researcher to isolate and examine this variable more thoroughly. ...read more.

Conclusion

The research design was simple and easy to repeat therefore it was of high reliability which is an advantage. However this research could be lacking validity as the researchers did not carry out any observation of classroom interaction so they had no data to support their claim. There was also lack of broader focus as Rosenthal and Jacobson did not look at the whole labelling process from teacher expectations through to their effect on pupils rather than just examining single elements in isolation. Using Laboratory ecxperiments in education means that the participants are not in their normal or natural environment this means that any behaviour that may occur is also unnatural or artificial. This is a weakness as the data collected will then be invalid. On the other hand field experiments take place in the subject?s natural surroundings. ...read more.

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