Strict-Sounding Teachers Worse in the Classroom Than Kind Colleagues

The following is excerpted from an online article posted by ScienceDaily.

A ground-breaking psychological study from The University of Essex and the University of Reading of hundreds of children showed “controlling sounding voices” didn’t gain cooperation from 10-16-year-olds.

It discovered that youngsters faced with a strict teacher were more likely to rebel, their well-being was affected, and they were less likely to reveal they were facing problems — like bullying.

This is because students felt unable to express themselves when confronted with a harsher, more controlling tone.

Whereas a supportive-sounding voice inspired a connection to a teacher which increased their intention to cooperate.

Professor Silke Paulmann, Head of the Department of Psychology at Essex, worked with Professor Netta Weinstein at Reading on the study. Professor Paulmann said: “We often think about what teachers say to their students, but we rarely talk about how they say it. But the tone of voice teachers use really matters, and the way we modulate our voice can have profound effects on listeners.”

The study published in the British Journal of Educational Psychology explored teachers’ tone of voice in children’s education.

Pre-recorded teachers’ voices were played to 250 children, who were then asked to judge how the tone affected them. They were asked to rate how it would affect factors such as competence, emotions, trust, and their intention to cooperate. Children reacted much better to supportive voices, while controlling tones made their self-esteem plummet, and teachers’ sound exemplars were perceived to be less trustworthy.

Source: ScienceDaily

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[reposted by] Jim Liebelt

Jim is Senior Writer, Editor and Researcher for HomeWord. Jim has 40 years of experience as a youth and family ministry specialist, having served over the years as a pastor, author, consultant, mentor, trainer, college instructor, and speaker. Jim’s HomeWord culture blog also appears on and Jim and his wife Jenny live in Quincy, MA.

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