Making Sure Your Praise Is Effective

Research-backed suggestions on how to praise positive behavior with meaningful words

On-task comportment, engagement, effort, and participation–praise enhances them all. Many studies

This demonstrates that positive reinforcement can be used to motivate even the most difficult behaviors. Perhaps you have had personal experience with the effects of praise on both the receiver and the giver’s states of consciousness.

When I was teaching summer school to struggling seniors ten years ago, one of my students, Michael, a sweet-natured C student, and chronic loafer, read aloud from his journal entry. It demonstrated a remarkable level of wisdom on his part.

“That gave me goosebumps, Michael,” I said in response.

Ten minutes later, Michael came in and interrupted the lesson. “Do you believe my writing is that good?” he inquired.

“Without a doubt.”


“Do you mean called his mother later that afternoon to tell her about his writing style? With those abilities, Michael is on the fast track to success. He is a treasure that should be guarded and protected.” Silence could be heard on the other end of the phone line, and then the sound of a mother sobbing.

Six years later, Michael was reintroduced to me in a computer lab at a university where I worked. His eyes glowed with excitement. He informed me that his mother would be in attendance at the graduation ceremony for his educational psychology master’s degree program. It took me aback when he thanked me for inspiring him, and I was struck by how simple words could elevate any encounter with Michael.

The fundamental principles of praise are well-known to the majority of educators. The work of experts like Daniel Willingham, a cognitive psychologist, has demonstrated that positive reinforcement is an extremely effective tool for motivating children.

Being perceived as sincere, sincere, and truthful Specific Nondirective This is something you should do daily.
Keep your attention on the process rather than on your ability. Instant Unexpected

What other insights can we glean from decades of research into the subject of classroom praise and recognition?


While all children need praise, they do not all require the same type. Although results may vary depending on the country of origin, a 2001 study by Paul C. Burnett revealed that children appreciate receiving praise, but not all children need the same kind. A 2016 survey by the University of Massachusetts Amherst showed that 73% of students ranked quiet verbal praise as the “top 3” response from their instructors. According to Amherst researchers, praise combined with rewards like prizes and treats can be more effective in reinforcing positive behavior than praise alone.


Instead of using general compliments (“Good job!”), which underwhelm students, try some of these literature-recommended alternatives:

  • To express genuine gratitude, it is suggested that you compliment students with an “I statement.” “I’m always on the lookout for what you have to say, Shalonda,” for example. When praise is not overstated, I statements are the most effective.
  • Make use of behavior-specific praise that is supported by evidence (BSP). Make a specific observation about the behavior you observe and a positive comment about it. Take the following example: Savannah, you took the initiative to open the door for your classmates. Major kudos to you. For BSP to reprimand ratios, Vanderbilt University recommends “six praise statements per 15 minutes” and “four reprimand statements per 15 minutes.”
  • To express appreciation for positive behavior and explain why it is important, “effective praise” must be used. “Asking thoughtful and relevant questions demonstrates to your peers that you are paying attention to what they are saying. The key to effective communication is to be open and honest.
    The use of ” open-ended questions ” and ” descriptive feedback ” can help to reinforce the processes of academic success in children. These are intended to encourage students to think critically about their learning. For example, when you gave your presentation, it was clear that your classmates were completely absorbed by you. What did you do to make sure that everyone was paying attention?

    At the beginning of each school year, survey your students to determine their preferences for

  • praise and rewards. Inquire with your students about whether they would prefer to receive acknowledgments through private or oral communication. Is it more convenient for them to receive notes at home or personal notes? Instruct your students to select their top three choices from a list of incentives provided. It is well worth your time to learn about the factors that motivate students to achieve academic excellence.

Although young children are more open to praise than adults, a 1987 study shows that students in the late elementary and high school grades can discern when compliments are too laudatory. Inflated compliments can harm student effort. According to a 2014 study, children with low self-esteem feel pressured by high praise to do better than they can and then withdraw from new challenges. Combine goodwill with sincerity to maximize rhetorical impact.


Make a list: Before class, praise a certain number of students. You can reflect on the accomplishments and potential mistakes of these students. You can then chart the people you have praised to spread the love.

Specific academic behavior: Jim Wright of Intervention Central

Several academic dispositions can be praised, as listed below. These include making an effort, being accurate, and setting goals. Wright provides an example of how to motivate people to work harder. We greatly appreciate all of your hard work.

Praise between students: According to a 2016 Amherst study, students value praise from their classmates but prefer nonverbal compliments such as high-fives over verbal praise from their peers. It is not acceptable to substitute instructor praise for peer recognition. According to the findings of the study, students place a higher value on teacher praise than they do on peer praise.

Dr. Marilyn Price-Mitchell, please speak slowly. Slow and articulate compliments are more effective than quick praise because they are more effective than quick praise. As an illustration: “At dinner tonight, Sam requests a compliment from the table. Is it the same person who set a new third-grade multiplication world record?” Then, make a pointing motion towards yourself.

A slew of studies has backed up the simple truth that strategic praise should be used to replace reactive admonishments.