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Praise and expectations: What does "good job" mean?

1 January 1996


During the last. half of this century many researchers have examined the use of praise in the classroom in order to better understand student motivation, self-esteem, achievement, classroom management, and communication (Brophy, 1985, Deci & Ryan, 1985, Meyer, 1982). The research . presented here focuses on. how praise was used by a teacher of a first and second grade blended classroom and how teachers in a small suburban district established expectations for student performance and behavior. Research on the use of praise in the classroom was conducted using qualitative methods. Data was derived from observations and interviews of a teacher and her students in their natural classroom setting.

Observations revealed three ways that teachers created expectations. The first was creating expectations based on the location of the school district and on the location of students' homes. The second way was based on earlier experiences with the student, including the student's academic record, past reports by other teachers, and earlier experiences with the student's family. The third way teachers created expectation was to set expectations for students based on observations of an individual's behavior.

The teacher in this research used praise in three ways. The first was to communicate praise indirectly by creating a supportive and accepting environment. The second way praise was communicated was in the form of positive, specific feed back. The final means of offering praise was in the form. of rewards.


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