Sociology Investigation

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Sociology                Sabine Efiannayi

Does labelling have an impact on students?



  • Do labelled students both genders show difference in behaviour and attitude towards school?
  • Do students of different age groups, who think that they are labelled, develop lower self esteem as a result of a given label?
  • Is the label given to a student seen as a motivation not to end up as predicted?

Reasons for choice of research topic:

School is an institution in which we the students learn norms and values of our society through teachers and the hidden curriculum. I believe that at school you have different personalities which sometimes seem changed as teachers give students labels, by this I mean that I have friends whose attitude has changed because they feel that they are labelled by teachers. Teachers are just as normal as any other people in society and therefore inevitably label students due to the information they have about them as well as the way students behave in class. I want to find out how the given label changes the students. As there is a large number of different students there would be a range of different ways a student’s attitude and personality changes; these changes can cause negative and positive outcomes, as I have seen it many times in my school time. I therefore want to investigate what changes happen in a student’s attitude towards that teacher he or she was labelled by, the subject that teacher teaches and the way that student thinks about him or herself.

In addition to this do I also like to find out what students in general think about labelling and what effect is has on life at school. This is a very significant issue in education as a teacher’s judgement should not affect a student’s academic performance negatively.

What other sociologists have said about my research topic

Labelling is a very important part of life and appears in all social areas. For example: in education where teachers label student due to their background, their behaviour in class, their academic performance and their attitude. The views of the teachers have an effect on the student’s personality and achievement.

Jonathan Blundell, Active Sociology for GCSE

Research has shown that children who are predicted to be a failure or a success by a teacher’s judgement are more likely to be what was predicted, as these predictions have an effect an individual’s view of him of herself and his or her self esteem.

An introduction to Sociology, Second Edition, Ken Browne

Students, who are labelled by teachers, try to bring their self image in line with the teacher’s judgment of them. They might think what the point in trying to improve is when the teacher has already said that they are hopeless in that subject. Even if these students try to resist this label, they would find it hard to achieve as some teachers might deem it a waste of resources spending time trying to improve in that subject.

Pauline Wilson and Allan Kidd, Sociology for GCSE

In school students can be given different labels from different teachers, however, all these labels have an impact on students. They have the choice either to reject the label or they can become a self fulfilling prophecy

Active Sociology

Negative labelling of students can lead to a self fulfilling prophecy of failure. They say that teachers tend to evaluate pupils in terms of an ideal student by looking at appearance, personality, speech and social class.

Becker (1971) & Keddie (1971)

Negative labelling can mean students get put into lower streams or bands. He had found out that pupils in the top bands were from higher social classes. Teacher had higher expectations of them and they were taught in different ways. Keddie fount out that teachers allowed pupils in the top steams access to higher levels of knowledge. Working class students did not get this knowledge.

Ball (1981)

Key terms/Concepts

  • Labelling

Thinking of someone or something in terms of a label, e.g. when a teacher labels a student

  • Self-fulfilling prophecy

When assumptions lead to that situation e.g. when students told by teacher they will fail, then do fail because they do not think it worth trying.

  • Halo effect

Students are typecast on the basis of early impressions based upon their appearance, clothing, manners, speech and school records of their homes.

Who will I use in my research?

I will use an equal amount of males and females, aged between 11 and 19 years. These all would be students from Kidbrooke School, who all would be from either White, Black and Asian ethnicity. I choose these because I want a fair result, as different ethnicities are see different by teachers, also do they have different upbringing which results in different personalities.

What methods will I use and why?

  • I will make a closed questionnaire. This is because it would allow me to create graphs and charts to show my results.
  • I will make use off secondary sources such as research carried out by other sociologists, because I can analyse it and check if it is still relevant.


For my investigation I will be using the following methods:

  1. Questionnaire
  2. Analysis of secondary sources
  3. Interviews

  1. Questionnaire

This is when sociologists collect information by creating a list of questions that should be answered by a selected group of people. The answered questions can then be analysed and presented in a chart, graph or diagram. I will use a closed questionnaire, as this type of questionnaire allows me to give options of which the selected people have to choose from.

I have chosen this method to use for my research because it would allow me to get information that I am able to present in a graph, chart or diagram. Another reason for choice is that the method is not very difficult for the people I chose and myself, as the selected group of people can answer the questions, which means that they only have to tick boxes and I then only have to calculate the results to make my final analysis. In addition to this, this method is very quick because the chosen people would not use more than five minutes to answer the questionnaire.

There are few potential problems that can occur with this method, such as the fact that not every person selected for my research is able to identify his or herself with some questions and the answer possibilities, therefore the person would not answer the question. Some of the questions might seem too personal for a few of the people chosen.

I will try to overcome the above mentioned problem by making the questions look responsible and sensible, so that the questions do not involve inserting personal experience. In addition to this I would only require to state sex, gender, ethnicity and age. This would mean that the questionnaire is anonymous and therefore can be completed without worrying about personal information to be exposed. On the top of the questionnaire I will state the purpose of my research and that the received data is processed and kept confidentially.

  1. Analysis of secondary sources

This is when sociologists collect information using secondary sources, which means that the information is taken from other sociologists’ research and the results of the research. Such sources are textbooks, news papers, internet and many more.

Join now!

I have chosen this method to use for my research because it offers a range of information on my chosen topic. In addition, is it an uncomplicated way of gaining information as I only has to look for it in these above mentioned sources. I am going to use the internet and sociology books so that I can achieve the most possible information. I select these particular sources as I have access to them all the time and I know how to make efficient use of them.

The potential problems with using this method are that I might ...

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