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Shadi Toserkani 12L
Using material from item A and elsewhere assess the strengths and
limitations of experiments for the study of labelling in schools.
Labelling is where a teacher treats a certain group of students differently due to predictions or
stereotypes that have once been previously made. The predictions can either be positive or
negative towards a child's selfesteem and educational achievement.
Experiments is a typically a research method in which variables can initially be analysed under
carefully controlled conditions. Usually within an artificial situation built by the researcher.
Labelling "affects pupils' selfesteem and educational achievement" (Item A), therefore
conducting experiments within a class room may be invalid. A limitation of experiments is that the
Hawthorne effect may occur, as Item A highlights "if teachers are aware that they are being
studied, they may avoid saying or doing anything that could be taken as labelling" Item A states
that "whether or not a particular action by a teacher is part of a labelling process is open to
interpretation" this means that, therefore the validity of the experiment is called into question,
therefore you might not get accurate results, to overcome this you could use triangulation.
Harvey and Slatin have used laboratory experiments to investigate teacher expectations. They
inspected whether teachers held fixed ideas about pupils of different social classes. Teachers
where shown photographs of children from different social class backgrounds, the teachers where
then asked to rate the children on their performance, parental attitudes to education, aspirations
and so on. Results show that lowerclass students were rates less favourably. An advantage of
this study is that there is less ethical issues as not real students have been used therefore no
child has suffered any negative effects. Item A states "researchers not only want to know
whether labelling occurs. They also want to measure its effect on pupils' selfesteem and
achievement" showing that lab experiments disadvantage as the results are artificial which
means they tell us little about the world of education and therefore showing the question of the
validity of the experiment.
There can be various strengths and limitations when carrying out an experiment, in this situation
the experiment that is carried out by a sociologist is a field experiment. This is an experiment
which is carried out in a natural setting. Rosenthal and Jacobson carried out a field experiment,
where the purpose of the experiment was to support the hypothesis that reality can be
influenced by the expectations of others. Rosenthal and Jacobson posited that biased
expectancies can basically affect reality and create labelling as a result, similar to what Item A
states "teachers label different groups of pupils and treat them unequally". This could however
cause ethical issues as there is no consent for the experiment. The validity of the study however
is strong due to field experiments being in a natural setting showing the true picture.
When studying labelling within schools, there are many methods. One of them being the
comparative method, this is where events that have previously happened are compared by the
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Shadi Toserkani 12L
sociologists. It can identify two groups that are similar and comparisons are made, it seeks to
discover the cause and effect, as Item A states "Researchers not only want to know whether
labelling occurs.…read more