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How to Get Your Students to Perform Better – the Scientific Approach (Pygmalion Effect)


Teaching can be extremely challenging. Often you find yourself faced with a classroom made up of a diverse student body. Catering to each student’s individual needs can be difficult, if not impossible.

As a result, many teachers are looking for research-backed study methods to encourage their students to perform well regardless of ability. The Pygmalion effect is one such method. Here are some ways to get your students to perform better in classes:

What is the Pygmalion effect?

The Pygmalion effect is also known as the Rosenthal effect and follows the premise that the expectations of others from a particular person can affect that person’s performance.

Psychologist Robert Rosenthal wrote that teachers who hold high expectations of their students have better-performing students than those teachers with low expectations.

According to the Pygmalion effect, people internalize the labels placed onto them by others. Thus, those who receive positive labels from others are considered to think more positively of themselves, while those receiving negative labels think negatively of themselves. These ideas of self can affect performance, with positive ideas of self-producing better performance.

How do students view teachers?

The Pygmalion effect not only applies from adults to children. It can be applied across all interactions between all people. As a result, a teacher’s performance can be affected by the way their students perceive them. A teacher who is perceived as a bad teacher by the students will internalize this label and perform poorly.

Alternatively, a teacher whose students have positive perceptions of him or her will perform better as a result of positive labels. These labels will also affect their interpersonal relationships.

When a student has a negative perception of a teacher, their interactions will usually be hostile and unfavorable. Teachers who make use of instructional technology tend to have a more positive reception from students.

Giving students a choice

One way to get students feeling positive in the classroom is by giving them a choice. When students get to make choices about their learning, they feel more responsible and in control.

When students are given responsibilities, they feel a positive affinity towards that class and the teacher. They feel like the teacher believes they are capable and will perform better.

When students are independently in control of their learning, they feel more motivated to learn what they are expected to learn. By encouraging students to be independently in charge of their learning, teachers foster positive emotions through positive labeling, and students will perform better over time.

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Part of giving students a choice when learning is including them in decision-making about learning. While the teacher is the authority in the classroom, it is essential that students feel included. These negative feelings can have a negative impact on student performance. Students who can use VR in education might feel more motivated to learn.

While teachers have to reach certain curriculum requirements each week, allowing students to help decide which goals to reach each week, how to reach them, and what tasks are most important can help foster positivity. Students who take part in the curriculum planning process can feel cared for and may perform more positively.

Flipped classroom

The flipped classroom method is a good way to encourage students to take charge of their learning. Students can explore topics at home and use classroom time for critical thinking and intensive discussions. This method caters to a diverse classroom since students get to set the pace of their own learning.

Rather than spending an unnecessarily long amount of time trying to keep up with the pace of the classroom, the students get to discover the new information in a safe environment at their own pace.

They then get to bring that new information to the school to discuss, allowing time for more exploration and deep discussion. Engaging students in this way allows them to relax, opening opportunities for better performance.


Catering to diverse classrooms can be difficult, but the Pygmalion effect can help improve student performance. Allowing students to engage in a positive classroom environment will help improve performance. It is essential for students to have positive school experiences if the aim is improved performance.



  1. […] As an educator or a parent, we should be very conscious about this in our daily life. Our behaviors towards a student or colleague or neighbor might be reflecting back and making our prophecies true. This can be utilized in a positive way too. You can read an article by Isabell Gaylord by clicking in this link. […]


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