Praise Improves Performance and Behavior

Magazine Issue
Spring 2019

Profile picture of PaulManaging classroom behav­ior as a teacher can be an intimidating task. However, it is crucial to ensure students learn effectively, especially those with or at risk of emo­tional and behavioral dis­orders. Although increasing teacher praise and decreasing teacher reprimand are consid­ered the best practices, addi­tional empirical evidence is required for those practices to be considered evidence based.

Researchers at the BYU McKay School of Education studied 65 elementary school teachers and 239 students across three states. In their study, they contrasted the effects of higher rates of teacher praise and lower rates of teacher reprimands on student engagement and disruptions. They found that higher rates of teacher praise and lower rates of teacher reprimands were associ­ated with increased student engagement and decreased disruptions. This was the case especially for at-risk students who appeared more sensitive to teacher behavior than their developing peers.

These results encour­age teachers, as well as parents, to increase praise and decrease reprimands to help children reach their full potential, especially for children with emotional or behavioral problems.

Paul Caldarella, Associate Professor, Director of the Positive Behavior Support Initiative, Center for the Improvement of Teacher Education and Schooling

Photo courtesy of Paul Caldarella

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