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Professional Journal Article #4 Caution - Praise Can Be Dangerous. American Educator, Spring 1999.
The article entitled, "Caution - Praise Can Be Dangerous" reveals information about praising students correctly and incorrectly. Praising students and being concerned about what students think of themselves is still a very important issue. It's how we praise them, where we go wrong.
The difference between praising the right way or the wrong way, depends on HOW and WHAT you praise them for. Do we praise them by indicating how intelligent they are for achieving the task, or do we praise them for the effort they put forth in achieving the task. According to some research that has been done, it is the latter of the two that proves to be the most effective and "correct" way to praise.
In the article, it explains six studies that were done on 400 fifth grade students. These students were broken up into three different groups. One group was praised for their intelligence, one group for their effort, and the other for their performance on the task.
These groups of students went through six different studies. They were: "The Impact of Difficulty." This study included giving the students different levels of difficult tasks, to see who would respond better in achieving the tasks. The end result, was the group who was praised for their effort, did the best. The second study was about the "Messages we send." The students believed different things about themselves, according to whether or not they were praised for intelligence, effort or performance. The third study was on "Ways of praising." This talked about praising them in a way that lets them know that they have control over their performance. When they are praised for their intelligence, this tells them that they're either smart or they're not - which is something they don't feel they have much control over. The fourth, fifth, and sixth tests were named "A Challenging Academic Transition", "Believing and Achieving" and "A Different Framework." Each study talked about how to praise your student and why praising them for their effort is a much better way to praise, than for their intelligence.
This was a great article and really made sense once you read it. If a student is praised for their effort, they learn to value their effort and work. They and are not afraid to work hard, for fear of failure or not being "intelligent."
-- Anonymous, June 15, 1999
Brenda, the article on praising is, indeed, an important aspect of working with the children's sense of achievement and motivation, and the role of the educator. Your writing provided an excellent summary of the article, however, I was left wondering as to how it impacted you and how you would go about praising students from what you learned in the article.
There is a difference between performance goals and learning goals, with the former being achievement centered, and the latter being focus on how a student is learning. This is also related to outcome measurements: students who learn specific information and students who learn ways to keep on learning. The emphasis on praising learning goals would keep a student as a life long learner. The emphasis on praising performance goals might increase competitive qualities. What do you think?
-- Anonymous, June 21, 1999