While many students respond positively to general praise from teachers, behaviour-specific praise is an important and effective way to identify desired behaviours in individuals or class groups and to increase the use of these appropriate behaviours.
Behaviour-specific praise focuses on individual students (or the class) and provides specific feedback on the positive aspects of the student’s behaviour. The important elements include naming the recipient of the praise (the individual or the class) and clearly describing the behaviour being praised e.g.:
- ‘Nicholas, I really like the way you are sitting and listening with your hands in your lap.’
- ‘Charlotte, that was great sharing your pencils with your friend.’
- ‘Class 3B, great job waiting while the Kindergarten children left the assembly hall this morning.’
Behaviour-specific praise should be paired with appropriate vocal expression, facial expression and body language.
Behaviour-specific praise is a well-researched and evidence based tool for use in the classroom to increase appropriate behaviours.
Using the strategy
Important elements in implementing behaviour-specific praise in the classroom include:
- identifying those behaviours that you wish to increase in the classroom
- providing students with information about this; this can take the form of ‘rules’ charts or similar in the classroom which can then act as reminders for the teacher to use the specific praise
- identifying students demonstrating the desired behaviour
- describing the behaviour in the form of praise.
Similar steps can be taken with individual students, with behaviour goals developed specifically for the student with behaviours of concern.
Teachers and other adults may find it beneficial to count the occasions of behaviour-specific praise, to video or audio record a session or to ask a mentor or colleague to provide feedback about the praise being used. Some teachers will also find it useful to take data before and after the strategy is implemented to determine its usefulness and whether any adjustments are needed.
This is appropriate for all ages, with appropriate adjustments for age and ability.
- High school