The Teacher and the Ghetto – Applying the Model of Frame Selection to Investigate the Influence of Neighborhood Contexts on Teachers’ Evaluations of Primary School Students

Thursday, 19 July 2018
Dominik BECKER, University of Tuebingen, Germany
Katarina WESSLING, University of Cologne, Germany
We apply the Model of Frame Selection (MFS) to investigate the relation between neighborhood-level conditions and the formation of primary-school teachers’ expectations of their students.

It is well-known that teachers’ expectations of their students ground on individual-level factors such as achievement, but also social and ethnic background. Moreover, evidence suggests that teachers take contextual-level factors (e.g., school or school class) into account. However, empirical analyses mostly lack a theory-based concept that integrates contextual-level explanations. We aim to close this gap in research by utilizing the MFS to deduce hypotheses about the variable rationality of teachers’ expectations on the level of frames, action scripts, and action itself.

On the level of frames we expect a less advantageous neighborhood to automatically reduce teachers’ expectations in students’ capability of being successful. Consequently, teachers’ rational reflection on students’ aptitude should be attenuated. Furthermore, framing effects of neighborhood contexts should vary by the link between situational objects and the frame. Hence, framing effects should be stronger for more visible neighborhood characteristics (e.g., ethnic composition, housing conditions).

Moreover, framing effects of neighborhoods on teachers’ expectations depend on the chronic accessibility of the script they activate. They should therefore be moderated by teachers’ beliefs about the impact of social and ethnic context on student ability. Additionally, the temporal accessibility of this script is triggered by teachers’ perception of school and classroom composition.

Finally, the extent to which the script determines the action of an automatic evaluation depends on the type of teachers’ expectations (e.g., short-term vs. long-term evaluations).

The theoretical model is tested by utilizing data from the German National Educational Panel Study (NEPS-SC2). Elementary school teachers’ evaluations are queried on a yearly basis from 2nd-4th grade. Information on teachers, students and school classes is linked to contextual-level information on the socio-economic composition of schools’ neighborhoods.