Presentation Title

Examining Classroom Climate: High School Students’ Perceptions of Teacher Praise

Highest Degree of Primary Presenter

Doctorate Degree

Presentation Abstract

One free and simple form of class-wide reinforcement is the use of Behavior-Specific Praise (SP; Brophy, 1981). Researchers suggest that its use by teachers can contribute to a warm classroom climate and positive interactions for both students and adults (Gable et al., 2009; Pianta et al., 2012; Sutherland, 2000). However, some have suggested that high school-age students might not desire praise from adults (Brophy, 1981), and extremely limited research has examined teacher use of SP as a primary-tier practice in high schools (e.g., Hawkins & Heflin, 2011; Simonson et al., 2010).

This session will summarize the existing literature on SP in high schools and present results from a recent pilot survey study of high school students’ perceptions of praise in the classroom. The survey examined student preferences for the social setting of praise (e.g., private vs. public praise). Students were also asked whether they prefer praise reflecting teachers’ observation of their academic efforts or their academic ability (see discussions of mindset in Dweck, 2002). Finally, students were asked whether they prefer praise to be based on the teachers’ own expectations or related to the students’ personally-valued learning and social behaviors. As the study was an underpowered pilot of the instrument (61 students from one rural public school), results will be presented with extreme caution, but practitioners will be given opportunity to consider and discuss implications for their own teaching settings. These may include how teachers seek information about their students’ preferences for SP, how they decide to structure and deliver their academic and behavioral corrective feedback (T. M. Scott, personal communication, May 12, 2016), and how their use of verbal reinforcement may influence students’ mindset toward academic growth (Dweck, 2002).

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Examining Classroom Climate: High School Students’ Perceptions of Teacher Praise

One free and simple form of class-wide reinforcement is the use of Behavior-Specific Praise (SP; Brophy, 1981). Researchers suggest that its use by teachers can contribute to a warm classroom climate and positive interactions for both students and adults (Gable et al., 2009; Pianta et al., 2012; Sutherland, 2000). However, some have suggested that high school-age students might not desire praise from adults (Brophy, 1981), and extremely limited research has examined teacher use of SP as a primary-tier practice in high schools (e.g., Hawkins & Heflin, 2011; Simonson et al., 2010).

This session will summarize the existing literature on SP in high schools and present results from a recent pilot survey study of high school students’ perceptions of praise in the classroom. The survey examined student preferences for the social setting of praise (e.g., private vs. public praise). Students were also asked whether they prefer praise reflecting teachers’ observation of their academic efforts or their academic ability (see discussions of mindset in Dweck, 2002). Finally, students were asked whether they prefer praise to be based on the teachers’ own expectations or related to the students’ personally-valued learning and social behaviors. As the study was an underpowered pilot of the instrument (61 students from one rural public school), results will be presented with extreme caution, but practitioners will be given opportunity to consider and discuss implications for their own teaching settings. These may include how teachers seek information about their students’ preferences for SP, how they decide to structure and deliver their academic and behavioral corrective feedback (T. M. Scott, personal communication, May 12, 2016), and how their use of verbal reinforcement may influence students’ mindset toward academic growth (Dweck, 2002).