Skip to main content

Praising with Intent in the Classroom

"Praise, when used correctly, can help students become adults who delight in intellectual challenge, understand the value of effort, and are able to deal with setbacks. Praise can help students make the most of the gifts they have." - Carol Dweck


"Good job!"   "Way to go!"   "You're so smart!"   "You're the best!" 

How many times have you heard yourself, or another teacher, lavishing this type of effusive praise on students? Praise like this may cause students a temporary feel-good moment, but in the long term, these forms of generic, inflated praise can have a detrimental effect on student achievement.


What is the purpose of praise in the classroom?

Praising students with intent can reinforce positive behaviors, raise academic performance, and improve classroom relationships. Effective use of praise makes the classroom a more inviting and supportive learning place, for everyone.

In many classrooms, negative or corrective remarks readily outnumber positive comments. (Hawkins & Heflin, 2011) However, research shows a positive correlation between effective teacher praise and student engagement. (Blaze, 2014) Other studies illustrate the likelihood of desired student behaviors increases with specific praise from the teacher. (Strain & Joseph, 2004)

What are characteristics of effective praise?

  • Specific - The praise provides descriptive feedback about learning process or effort. Recommendations for further improvement can be included.
  • Contingent - The praise closely follows, and is explicitly tied to a desired behavior.
  • Sensitive - The praise builds relationships by showing an awareness of students' interests. The praise is not exaggerated nor insincere.

What are characteristics of ineffective praise?

  • Generic - The praise does not provide specific feedback to the student about what they did well.
  • Inflated - The praise is disproportionate to the accomplishment or effort required by the student.
  • Manipulative - The praise is intended to control student behavior. It is a verbal token rather than descriptive feedback.

When teachers are intentional with their use of effective forms of praise, the classroom develops a positive atmosphere where students are engaged in learning activities. Students will not only give a better effort, but they will also become more effective with praising each other. Increased student achievement will become a more likely consequence of improved communication, engagement, and relationships in the classroom.

"Every time teachers give feedback to students, they convey messages that affect students' opinions of themselves, their motivations, and their achievement." - Carol Dweck

Questions for your consideration:

  • How effectively is praise being used in your classroom or school?
  • What is your plan for becoming more intentional with your use of praise?
  • Why is it important to praise the performance rather than the performer?







References and Related Reading


Ivey, M. (2016). Growth Mindset: Rephrasing Praise. Teaching Channel. https://www.teachingchannel.org/blog/2016/12/09/rephrasing-praise/

Poindexter, N. (n.d.). Use Specific Language for Feedback and Praise. http://www.nea.org/tools/52080.htm

Curwin, D. R. (2015, August 11). 13 Common Sayings to Avoid. Edutopiahttps://goo.gl/m1KyYO

Dweck, C. S. (1999). Caution - Praise Can Be Dangerous. American Educator. http://www.aft.org/sites/default/files/periodicals/PraiseSpring99.pdf


Ask the Cognitive Scientist. (n.d.). http://www.aft.org/ae/winter2005-2006/willingham


Comments

Popular posts from this blog

"Five Reasons Why Schoology Rocks!"

Networking at IETC last week provided me validation in my choice for best learning management system, Schoology . Having used Moodle, Edmodo, Canvas, and Blackboard, I can tell you that these are all terrific products for digital instruction. However, for the past several months, I felt that Schoology was a better choice than these previously mentioned products. Many times, asking the right questions is a precursor to making sound decisions. Here's an article that serves as a guide to asking the right questions when choosing a learning management system: 10 Questions Everyone Should Ask When Choosing an LMS Here are five reasons why Schoology remains my #1 choice for a classroom LMS: Full-featured classroom organization tools, a collaborative learning place for teachers and students, device-independent applications, Schoology API  allows the program to play nicely with others, and the basic level instructional components are, and will always be, FREE. 1.  School

My One Word for 2018 is Wisdom

Wisdom, according to Dictionary.com , is "the quality or state of being wise; knowledge of what is true or right coupled with just judgment as to action; sagacity, discernment, or insight." "Any fool can know. The point is to understand." This quote, often incorrectly attributed to Albert Einstein , provides an illustration of the value of understanding over knowledge. A simple search reveals this quote can be linked to the writing of mathematician, George Finlay Simmons .  Narrowing my thinking to one word is an interesting challenge. I have gained a greater appreciation for words and how the combination of words can convey meaning beyond definitions, beyond knowledge. Where are the resources for knowledge in a modern world? We purchased an Amazon Echo as a gift for my parents. "It's such a smart and funny device," says my mom. Alexa has a seemingly unlimited access to information, music, and jokes, but does she understand? Can

Grammarly Writing Hacks for Better Blogging

Writing is learning. It's taken me about thirty years to realize the metacognitive power of written expression, the same amount of time it took for me to recognize that my writing skills suck. Apparently, time in composition class was spent daydreaming and making silly faces at girls. Today, each post is an exercise of will power, unlearning and relearning prepositional phrases, comma usage, and when to use the ever-popular semicolon. Two hundred posts into my blogging adventure I've picked up a few tricks that add efficiency to my writing, things that make me appear smarter than I really am. Freelance writer, Jennie Cromie , writing for ProBlogger.net , identifies five ways blogging can make you a better writer . Discover your voice Build social connections Acquire valuable feedback Become self-disciplined Write faster and more efficiently Writing with intent to learn is the mindset to lead with. Using the right tools permits scatterbrains like me to focu