Children who are often praised work more concentrated
Children in classes in which the teacher gave more praise can concentrate longer on a task than pupils who rarely receive positive feedback. This is reported by a team led by psychologist Paul Caldarella from Brigham Young University. Giving praise more often than blaming could increase school children's attention span by up to 30 percent.
For their study, the researchers observed more than 2,500 American students at 19 schools at the time of day their teachers found most tiring. They used a stopwatch to record how long the five to twelve-year-olds concentrated on a task without being interrupted by classmates.
Half of the educators used a specific teaching method during class visits. As part of the CW-FIT (Classwide Function-related Intervention Teams) program, teachers explain to their students exactly what behavior they expect from them. If the children show the desired qualities, such as helpfulness, they are praised for it.
The trained observers counted all statements that referred to a child's behavior. The researchers then correlated the relationship between praise and criticism with the children's ability to concentrate - and lo and behold: the more often a teacher praised his students, the longer they were able to keep going on a task. Such a linear dependency was found both in teachers who used the CW-FIT method and in the control group, who taught as usual.
"Praise is a form of feedback. Students need this feedback from their teacher to understand what behavior is expected and appreciated from them," says Caldarella. According to the psychologist, many teachers tend to reprimand their students as often or even more often than they praise them. Previous studies show that this can have a negative impact on group and individual student behavior.