This is the sixth blogpost expanding on the TouchPaper Problems first discussed at #Researched2013 and due to be tackled at the first TouchPaper Problem Party.
Question #6 – What rule best predicts teacher ‘behaviour’ ratings of pupils?
Teachers are often asked to describe student behaviour: to their parents, on report cards, even to students themselves. But is it the child’s behaviour only that determines how teachers rate the pupil or are there other factors at play?
There are two ways that it might be possible other factors matter:
1. Something about a teacher means they perceive student behaviours in different ways. For example, perhaps I hold a belief that it isn’t “ladylike” for girls to be loud. If I teach a female student with a particularly booming voice, might I therefore (however subconsciously) give her a lower behavior rating than a female student of similar behaviour patterns but with a quieter voice? (And is that because her behaviour is actually worse?)
2. Could it be that something about a teacher means the students actually behave differently? Sticking with the volume example, is a teacher with a naturally booming voice more likely to have a loud class, who they then perceive as chatty, and so mark down for behaviour?
Clearly, these factors will be different for different people. This is why the problem ask what best predicts the rating. We’re not saying that knowing something about a person will always tell you how they will perceive behaviour, but what is it about us that gets us closer to the answer.
Other thoughts that come to mind for me are:
– Does a teacher’s level of optimism matter? Do more optimistic people rate students more highly? Are students better behaved for more optimistic teachers?
– Does a teacher’s own experience of education matter? If they were taught in chattery classrooms and nevertheless did well, perhaps they don’t mark down chattery students. If, on the other hand, the chatterboxes of their youth are the ones they think destroyed their chances, do they then take this as an opportunity to “right the wrong” and mark such students down?
At this point, I don’t know. But I’m looking forward to having people think about how we might figure this out, and what sort of information we would need to do so.