Outputs and publications

Preliminary results briefs

These preliminary results investigate:

  1. the discrepancy between students’ self-reported academic attitudes and teachers’ perceptions of those same attitudes;
  2. the discrepancy between students’ academic abilities (captured by standardised cognitive tests) and teachers’ perceptions of those same abilities.

In both cases, inaccurate perceptions are defined as teachers over- or under-estimating students’ academic attitudes or abilities.

Cover of the Ethnicity brief. A bright pink A4 page, with angled rectangles in pink and white, which hold the title, project name and organisations involved.

The briefs explore whether (in)accurate teacher perceptions are systematically linked to students’ socio-economic and ethnic background, or gender.

These preliminary results investigate the discrepancy between students’ own rating of their academic ability (i.e., academic self-concept) and teachers’ rating of students’ academic abilities.

In both cases, such discrepancies (i.e., the disagreement between student ratings and teacher ratings of, for example, mathematical skills) are captured by the idea of inaccurate perceptions, where an inaccurate perception is defined as the teacher over- or under-estimating a student academic ability, in comparison to the students’ own rating of it.

The briefs explore whether (in)accurate teacher perceptions are systematically linked to students’ socio-economic and ethnic background, or gender.

 

Publications

We are currently working on three papers. Here are the abstracts:

 

Ethnic biases in primary school teachers’ perceptions of their students’ academic attitudes: evidence from the British Millennium Cohort Study

In this paper, we use again data from the Millennium Cohort Study (MCS), a large-scale, rich survey on children and young people in the UK. We analyse whether there is a relationship between student ethnic background and teachers perceptions of students’ attitudes towards school. We focus on students aged 10 to 11 years in England. We assess the discrepancy between teacher’s perceptions and student’s own reports of the student’s report on whether they enjoy school, whether they give their best in school, misbehave in class and find school boring. The discrepancies are calculated again using the residual method outlined above: a linear regression model predicts teacher reports with student report as main independent variable and, subsequently, the ‘distance’ between a teacher report and the regression line (residual) represents the discrepancy. We argue that larger discrepancies or ‘biases’ reflect misunderstandings and conflict in the teacher-student relationship.

Preliminary analyses suggest that teachers tend to, on average and ‘compared’ to the students’ own reports, under-estimate how often students from families who identify as Pakistani, Black Caribbean, and Black African background try their best at school and enjoy school.

Teacher-student relationships and student socioeconomic background: a comparison between England and Scotland using large-scale survey data

Research has established that close teacher-student relationships (i.e., warm, open) as opposed to conflictual (coercive, discordant) relationships have a positive impact on students’ learning, school achievement, and socioemotional wellbeing at early ages and in adolescence. Amongst factors influencing the quality of teacher-student relationships, it has been found that girls, high-achieving, extroverted and engaged students are more likely to have close relationships with their teachers. What has been studied much less is whether students’ socioeconomic status (SES) is related to the quality of teacher-student relationships, above and beyond the effects of student engagement and previous attainment. This lack of research is surprising as literature on ‘teacher biases’ suggests that teachers can be prone to – more or less conscious – preferential treatment of children from certain social groups. We assume that interactions between teachers and students could be more conflictual when children are from a lower SES background.

In this paper, we use data from two large-scale, longitudinal surveys – Millennium Cohort Study (MCS) and Growing Up in Scotland (GUS) – to investigate whether there is a relationship between student socioeconomic background and teacher-student relationships amongst primary school students at age 10-11 years. We capture the quality of teacher-student relationships in two ways. Firstly, we measure the discrepancy between teacher’s and student’s assessment of the student’s attitudes towards school (e.g., whether they find school interesting). We argue that larger discrepancies reflect misunderstandings and conflict in the teacher-student relationship. Secondly, we use information pertaining (1) the degree to which students like their teacher and (2) their perception of being treated fairly by their teacher. The comparison between England and Scotland enables us to explore the impact of ‘macro-factors’ such as education systems and teacher training on SES-differences in teacher-student relationships. We discuss potential long-term effects of such early schooling experiences on outcomes in adolescence.

Socioeconomic bias in teacher assessments of primary school students: the mediating role of student attitudes, student behaviour and parental involvement

This paper aims to investigate socioeconomic biases in teacher assessments of school performance of primary school students. A social bias in teacher assessments is typically measured as a discrepancy between teacher assessment (e.g., ratings of student academic performance) and student scores on standardised ability tests that is systematically linked to the student’s social class or socioeconomic status. A core limitation of existing research is that experimental studies – which are common in the field – although powerful in uncovering causal relationships, lack external validity as they usually involve teachers assessing fictional student cases. Moreover, they are limited in their ability to uncover the processes that underlie these biases. These socioeconomic biases in teacher assessments might arise because teachers unconsciously factor in some student characteristics that relate to their socioeconomic background. Examples of these characteristics could be students’ behaviour and attitudes towards learning or parental involvement in children’s education. Other factors that have received relatively little attention so far are “macro-level factors” such as education policy and teacher training.

In this paper we use three large-scale secondary data sets – the British Millennium Cohort Study (MCS – England), Growing Up in Scotland (GUS – Scotland), and the National Education Panel Study (NEPS – Germany) – to (1) identify socioeconomic biases in teachers’ assessments of students’ academic abilities, and (2) analyse the extent to which these biases are mediated by student behaviour in the classroom, academic attitudes, and parental involvement in children’s education. We use linear regression analysis and causal mediation analysis. All three data sets provide comparable measures of subjective teacher assessments of students’ abilities in different subjects and various cognitive ability measures gathered through standardised ability tests. The longitudinal structure of the data sets helps to minimise methodological problems that could arise through issues such as reverse causality. The multi-country approach enables us to explore how “macro-level factors” such as education policy and teacher training influence teacher bias.

 

Academic conferences and talks

 

Teacher judgements, student social background, and student progress in primary school: a cross-country perspective

Valentina presented a published study on biased teacher assessment at the 2022 11th Annual International Conference of the Society for Longitudinal and Lifecourse Studies (SLLS) – Growing Up and Growing Older Across Societies: Harnessing the Power of Comparative Research.

More details can be found on our News and Events page and slides can be viewed below.

 

Katherin presents at the Centre for Comparative and International Research in Education (CIRE) of the University of Bristol

On the 6th of December, Katherin presented at an internal CIRE meeting, a forum intended for faculty and PGRs to share research ideas and ongoing projects in order to receive feedback.

More details can be found on our ‘News and Events’ page and slides can be viewed below.

 

Katherin presents at the University of Bamberg

In February 2023, Katherin presented initial results of the project at the Oberseminar of the Chair for Sociology (Social Stratification) of Professor Cornelia Kristen at the University of Bamberg. The title of the presentation was ‘Social and ethnic biases in primary school: Preliminary results from a study of teacher perceptions of students’ academic attitudes’.

More details can be found on our ‘News and Events’ page.

 

SES gradient in teacher-student relationship: Teacher perceptions of academic attitudes of primary school students in England and Scotland

On 14th April, Valentina presented at the British Sociological Association (BSA) 2023 Annual Conference – Sociological Voices in Public Discourse hosted by the University of Manchester.

Valentina presented preliminary results for a work-in-progress BIPE paper investigating the socio-economic gradient in teacher-student relationship in England and Scotland.

More details can be found on our ‘News and Events’ page and slides can be viewed below.

 

SES-gradient in teacher bias & its mediators: Teacher perceptions of academic abilities of primary school students in England, Scotland, and Germany

On 30th June, Valentina presented at the 2023 XX World Congress of Sociology held in Melbourne, Australia.

Valentina presented preliminary results for a work-in-progress BIPE paper investigating the socio-economic gradient in teacher biased perceptions of students’ academic abilities in England, Scotland, and Germany. More details can be found on our ‘News and Events’ page and slides can be viewed below.

 

Ethnic biases in English state primary schools: exploring the impact of school ethnic composition on teachers’ biased perceptions of students’ school effort

On 9th October, Valentina presented at the Society for Longitudinal and Lifecourse Studies (SLLS) 2023 Annual Conference – Life Courses in Times of Uncertainty hosted by the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich.

Valentina presented preliminary results for a work-in-progress BIPE paper investigating ethnic biases in English state primary schools.

More details can be found on our ‘News and Events’ page and slides can be viewed below.