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Effective & ineffective use of praise in the classroom: How it affects students' behavior and self-esteem

1 December 1993


Hearing a teacher praise his/her student is a common occur­rence in most classrooms. Often times, praise is given by a teacher without much thought, but the intent is usually to either build a student's self-esteem, or modify a student's behavior. Regardless of the intent, teacher praise usually has an affect on the student receiving it. I was placed in a suburban, southwest Beaverton elementary school to see how teacher praise affected students. Observations of student reaction to teacher praise was my main source of information. However, casual interviews were used as well. My findings were quite different from what my Literature Review had prepared me for. I found that students who responded best to teacher praise were the students who already had high self- esteem and who also had strong family support . Additionally, praise used to modify behavior was successful on an inconsistent basis, and also depended upon the self-esteem of the student receiving the praise.


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