Learning and Sharing

Effective Praise

on November 22, 2014



gold star

“Descriptive praise leads to self-assessment and evaluative praise creates dependency”. Stop and think about that!

I learned during the third day of Social Thinking conference that “effective” praise helps children own their accomplishments. “Effective” praise focuses on efforts, actions, process and strategies NOT outcomes. Effective praise is specific not general. I have been thinking about this for 2 days. Thinking about effective praise prompted me to start reading about the subject. In all my graduate work, I don’t remember learning about the best way to praise my students. For the first time in thirty years of practice, I am reflecting on how I praise my young students. During the course of Day 3, we were encouraged to ask ourselves “What is the goal of praise?”. Does my praise make my students more dependent upon me and my approval? or Do my words help them see their strengths and give them a clearer picture of their abilities and accomplishments?

In one article that I read published in the UChicagoNews, Elizabeth Gunderson is quoted, “The kind of praise focused on effort, called process praise, sends the message that effort and actions are the sources of success, leading children to believe they can improve their performance through hard work”. The article is Parents who praise effort can bolster children’s persistence, self-esteem by William Harms published February 12,2013.

What does process praise sound like? A simple, evaluation-free statement like, “You used a lot of bright colors in your picture” or “I can see that you worked really hard on that paper” or “Wow, you are sharing your toys with your sister” tells children that effort, cooperation, and positive relationships are valued.

Stop and think about that!



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