When it comes to classroom performance, praising kids is a powerful tool

accreditation

Students have better focus in class if teachers praise them for being good rather than scolding them for being bad, according to a new study.

Researchers spent three years observing more than 2 500 students in 19 elementary schools across Missouri, Tennessee and Utah. The children came from 151 classes from kindergarten through grade 6.

Appropriate behaviour

The students exhibited 20%-30% greater focus on tasks when teachers gave out more praise than reprimands, according to the study. It was published in the journal Educational Psychology.

"Unfortunately, previous research has shown that teachers often tend to reprimand students for problem behaviour as much or more than they praise pupils for appropriate behaviour, which can often have a negative effect on classrooms and student behaviour," said study lead author Paul Caldarella, of Brigham Young University School of Education in Provo, Utah.

"Praise is a form of teacher feedback, and students need that feedback to understand what behaviour is expected of them, and what behaviour is valued by teachers," he noted in a journal news release.

Even when teachers praised as much as they reprimanded, students' on-task behaviour reached 60%, Caldarella said.

"However, if teachers could increase their praise to reprimand ratio to 2:1 or higher, they would see even more improvements in the classroom," he continued.

Nurturing self-esteem and confidence

The study findings suggest that praise can be a powerful tool for teachers to inspire students to work harder, particularly those who struggle academically or are disruptive in class.

Praise could also improve learning and grades.

"Everyone values being praised and recognised for their endeavours – it is a huge part of nurturing children's self-esteem and confidence," Caldarella said.

"Also, from a behavioural perspective, behaviour that is reinforced tends to increase – so if teachers are praising students for good behaviour – such as attending to the teacher, asking for help appropriately, etc. – it stands to reason that this behaviour will increase, and learning will improve," he said.

Image credit: iStock

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For 14 free days, you can have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today. Thereafter you will be billed R75 per month. You can cancel anytime and if you cancel within 14 days you won't be billed. 
Subscribe to News24
Voting Booth
What are your thoughts on the possibility of having permanent Stage 2 or 3 load shedding?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Results
I'll take that over constant schedule changes
13% - 1429 votes
Why are we normalising Eskom’s mess?
72% - 7884 votes
I've already found alternative ways of powering my home/business
15% - 1624 votes
Vote
Rand - Dollar
17.47
-2.2%
Rand - Pound
21.05
+0.1%
Rand - Euro
18.91
-0.2%
Rand - Aus dollar
12.09
+0.1%
Rand - Yen
0.13
+0.1%
Platinum
974.02
0.0%
Palladium
1,623.95
0.0%
Gold
1,865.16
0.0%
Silver
22.35
0.0%
Brent Crude
79.94
-2.8%
Top 40
74,082
+0.6%
All Share
80,241
+0.6%
Resource 10
75,186
+0.7%
Industrial 25
103,461
+0.8%
Financial 15
16,550
0.0%
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes Iress logo
Editorial feedback and complaints

Contact the public editor with feedback for our journalists, complaints, queries or suggestions about articles on News24.

LEARN MORE