How is praise used in HELPS?
The use of praise should be integrated throughout your session, but the way you praise and when you praise is important. The use of praise in conjunction with a reward is discussed on the rewards part of this website. Here we will focus on when you should praise and how you should give praise. In MOVES positive feedback is encouraged whenever a student is displaying good reading behaviors; some praiseworthy behaviors include using good expression, staying focused, making little to no mistakes,, etc.. Specifically within the session you should praise when tracking words correct per minute progress, if the student shows effort after the modeling procedure, during phrase drill procedure, and when giving stars. Those are just a few situation in which positive feedback is highly valuable
How do I make praise meaningful?
Praise, if used in the right way, can increase the student's intrinsic motivation to practice reading fluency. This means that when praise is specific and varied, students are more likely to engage in the reading and by feeling more encouraged and confident. Make sure to provide positive feedback to students by specifically stating what they did correctly. Phrases like “good job” and “way to go” are too vague to have a significant effect as students are unsure what it is they are being praised for (Poindexter). Just as important is making sure that you use a variety of different phrases to keep the feedback meaningful to students. Here are a few examples of specific praise that you could implement while volunteering:
- “Bethany, I love how you read with such good expression. It really added to the story!”
- “Yozel, once again you read with no errors! That is very impressive!”
- “Harmonia, way to stay focused when those kids walked by. I can tell you are putting a lot of effort in today!”
- “Dan, I can’t believe how fast you read that passage! And with hardly any mistakes!”
How does praise motivate?
Praise improves student efficacy by encouraging students with specific feedback about their performance. Self efficacy is defined as the judgement of one’s ability to perform a certain task, and is really important when trying to encourage student’s effort. Praising one's effort can directly affect the students ideas about why they succeeded which can lead to higher confidence to persist through difficulties (Dwyer et al.). If they become high efficacy readers, the are more likely to stay on task, put in effort, and have the confidence to succeed even if they do not initially meet their goals. When self efficacy is achieved, in this case hopefully through verbal persuasion (praise), students may become more willing to put in time outside of school to try and meet their reading goal during their next session.
- When I volunteered with HELPS, I worked with a student named Bethany. She was a fifth grader who particularly struggled with reading fluency. Unfortunately, her peers had told her that the reason she was being pulled out of class for HELPS was that she was “bad at reading”. When she confronted me about this, I knew I would have to really emphasize praise to improve her self efficacy. I made sure to give her plenty of positive feedback, especially when she remained focus (getting distracted was a problem for her). After multiple sessions I noticed a few things. First, her confidence in reading was growing considerably. She loved to see her progress on the tracking form. Another thing that I observed was her increased interest in reading. She became genuinely excited when she reached her reading goals and she showed increased expression when she read. She would also tell me about books she was reading at home. Bethany’s altered her outlook reading seemed strongly influenced by repeated positive feedback.
Additional information on the use of praise in education
American Psychological Association
- Carol Dwyer, PhD, Educational Testing Service and Coral Dweck, PhD, Stanford Universtiy talk about how having self efficacy can have serious impacts on learning. Teacher's can change mindsets on learning by using well constructed praise and feedback. http://www.apa.org/education/k12/using-praise.aspx
- Naomi Poindexter further discusses how to construct praise using examples. http://www.nea.org/tools/52080.htm