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Discussion On The Social Psychological Influences On Academic Achievement, Based On A Classroom Learning Experience

2229 words - 9 pages

The learning activity involves a typical working class boy called Kevin who is involved in petty crime and is not motivated to gain qualifications, as he is expecting to find unskilled manual labour work elsewhere when he finishes school, just as his father did. This mirrors Paul Willis’ study of working class boys (1977), which shows that this is a common issue in schools with a high intake of students with a working class background. The Head of Year is trying to get Kevin to focus on his future, so he does not miss out on any opportunities open to him, but he is focusing on the short term rewards of earning money immediately, rather than the long term potential which would result in him having a better quality of life with fewer opportunities for his petty crime to escalate. There are many theories that could be used to describe the situation that Kevin is in, some of them are; Self-Fulfilling Prophecy, Self-Schemas, Expectancy-Value Theory (EVT) and Social Identity Theory, these areas best describe what is expected of the subject and the possible actions that they could pursue.
Merton describes Self Fulfilling Prophecy as ‘the parable that tells us the public definitions of a situation (prophecies or predictions) that become an integral part of the situation and thus affecting subsequent developments’, (1948) for example, when a teacher constantly tells a child they are naughty, they will believe the fact and will become more inclined to act naughty. This theory links with Kevin’s case, as it is clear from his previous history in petty crime, that he feels the law and his school are against him, becoming alienated from society, because he is being consistently punished.
If a more positive outlook on his education was encouraged, Kevin could see the benefits of further education, and obtain qualifications which would help him to find better jobs in the current job market, and even develop his own career through self-employment further on. However he is restricting himself by questioning his ability to pursue education, meaning he has given up. Due to this behaviour, Kevin has been lead to believe he is ‘no good,’ even with encouragement from his Head of Year, as with every act of positive re-enforcement he can suffer several setbacks when in class. Many teachers are likely to have personal stereotypes for different kinds of students, and therefore treat them differently, whether it is intentional or not, if the teacher views a certain class member as a helpful and good worker, the teacher will then treat them as such, and therefore the learner will respond positively, this also acts with the teachers’ views on ‘misbehaving’ class members with a negative reaction (Snyder, 1977). It is suggested by Snyder et al that ‘stereotypes can and do channel dyadic interaction so as to create their own social reality’ (pg. 663), this means that the way an individual interacts with another is wholly affected by their stereotypical views of that person,...

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