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Behavior-Specific Praise

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Kathy Teel

on 16 September 2014

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Transcript of Behavior-Specific Praise

Changing the Behaviors
of Teachers and Students

Behavior-Specific Praise
Behavior-Specific Praise
The Purpose
Behavior-Specific Praise
of the

Strengths of BSP
of the

Weaknesses of BSP
How to Use BSP
in the Classroom
Also called
contingent praise (Kerr & Nelson, 2010)
specific praise
specific contingent praise
contingent teacher praise
specific and contingent praise
acknowledging appropriate behavior
positive recognition (Chalk & Bizo, 2004)
approval with description (Harrop & Swinson, 2000; Wyatt & Hawkins, 1987)
task-involved praise
process praise (Dweck, 2007)
encouragement (Pergande & Thorkildsen, cited in Chalk & Bizo, 2004)
There are 3 elements in using BSP in the classroom.
BSP and ignoring undesirable behavior (Kerr & Nelson, 2010)
How to phrase BSP
To encourage desirable behavior from students,
and to discourage undesirable behavior.
(Chalk & Bizo, 2004)
To create a positive classroom atmosphere
To faciliate academic growth in students with EBD
To foster positive relationships between teachers and students.
BSP is one of the most well-document behavior modification techniques in the teacher’s toolbox.

(Chalk & Bizo, 2004)
1968 study by Madsen, Becker and Thomas called “Rules, Praise, and Ignoring: Elements of Elementary Classroom Control.”
One of the most important findings of the Madsen study was the fact that teacher and student behaviors reinforce each other.
Seldom just about BSP as a way to change student behavior. It’s also about how to change teacher behavior.
Most studies either seem to focus on:

Improving student behavior by using BSP as an intervention, which can result in better teaching and an improved classroom environment.

Improving teachers’ use of BSP, which can result in better behavior and better academic outcomes for all students.
Some studies look strictly at BSP alone, either from the point of view of improving the teacher’s performance or improving student behavior. (Chalk & Bizo, 2004; Sutherland, Wehby, & Copeland, 2000; Moffatt, 2011)
Some studies pair BSP with other techniques, like we saw with the 1968 Madsen study, “Rules, Praise and Ignoring.”

Our Kerr & Nelson book (2010), talks about the “Praise-and-Ignore Approach.”

Other pairings include
pre-corrective statements and BSP (Stormont & Reinke, 2009),
and opportunities to respond (OTR) (Sutherland, Wehby & Yoder, 2002).
Using BSP can improve social and academic outcomes for all learners, but it’s worth focusing on children with EBD, who are often resistant to other interventions.
Training teachers to use BSP generally helps them use it more effectively (Allday et al).
Non-specific praise or praise of elements outside the student’s control isn’t effective,
and can actually have the opposite effect of what the teacher hoped for.

(Dweck,2007; Stormont, Reinke & Herman, 2011).
This intervention/strategy is easy to use.
An increase in desirable behavior almost always leads to an increase in desirable academic outcomes (Chalk & Bizo, 2004;)
Training for teachers is easy and can be done in one session, if the school wants to bring everyone in, or an individual teacher can just do some reading and practicing (Swinson & Harrop, 2005).
This strategy is effective.
It’s been tested for more than 40 years and it works.
This strategy is mutually reinforcing; the better students behave, the more teachers want to praise them, and the more praise students get, the better they want to behave (Chalk & Bizo, 2004).
Teachers don’t always have an accurate idea of how much praise they’re really giving
Teachers don’t always consider giving praise important, especially with older students (Stormont, Reinke & Herman, 2011)
Teachers who do want to offer support to students with behavioral problems often don’t know what to do, and don’t receive the training they need either in college or as part of professional development (Stormont, Reinke & Herman, 2011)
Teachers often give non-specific or ego-centered praise instead of specific praise (Dweck, 2007; Chalk & Bizo, 2004).
Teachers often stop BSP after the desired behavior change has been effected. This leaves the student confused and the undesired behavior often returns (Sutherland, Wehby & Yoder, 2002).
The wrong kind of praise can actually be damaging (Dweck, 2007)
BSP and ignoring undesirable behavior
(Kerr & Nelson, 2010;
Madsen, Becker & Thomas, 1968)
Kerr and Nelson (2010) warn that if a teacher plans to use ignoring as a way to stop reinforcing undesirable behavior, and replacing it with BSP, she/he must be willing to continue to ignore the behavior, even when it escalates.
To increase positive self-concept in students who struggle socially (Chalk & Bizo, 2004)
"Praise is effective when it is personal, genuine, contingent and descriptive (mentioning
desired behaviour), and provides specific information so the pupil understands
why they are being praised, and when it is directed at a person's effort, strategy or rule,
not expressed as an evaluation of the individual."

(Chalk & Bizo, 2004)
How to Phrase BSP

(Allday et al, 2012)

"Paul, I really like how you walked over here so quietly!"
"Jill, thank you for raising your hand to speak."
"Jack, you are working on your assignment so quietly."
"Tom is sitting crisscross applesauce, that's what I like to see!"
How Not to Phrase BSP
Non-Examples of BSP
(Allday et al, 2012)

"Paul, way to go!"
"Well done."
"Thank you."
"I like that."
BSP and OTR are really two sides of the same coin. It only makes sense that you have to give kids an opportunity to respond (OTR), in order to have something to give them BSP for. However, many teachers avoid calling on students with EBD or disruptive behaviors, even when they are behaving appropriately.

This may be because the teacher is frustrated and doesn't want to seek out contact with the student, or it may be because students with behavior problems often also have academic problems and the teacher doesn't want to embarrass the student. But students need to have a chance to do something well for which they can be praised.

(Sutherland, Wehby & Yoder, 2002)
Behavior-specific praise is a simple strategy that has been proven effective in reinforcing positive behaviors. It can work with anyone, but has been shown to be especially effective for kids with EBD.
Allday, R.A., Hinkson-Lee, K., Hudson, T., Neilsen-Gatti, S., Kleinke, A., & Russel, C. (2012). Training general educators to increase behavior-specific praise: Effects on students with EBD. Behavioral Disorders, 37(2), 87-98.

Chalk, K. & Bizo, L.A. (2004). Specific praise improves on-task behavior and numeracy enjoyment: A study of year four pupils engaged in the numeracy hour. Educational Psychology in Practice, 20(4), 335-349.

Dweck, C.S. (2007). The perils and promises of praise. Educational Leadership, 65(2), 34-39.

Haydon, T., Musti-Rao, S. (2011). Effective use of behavior-specific praise: A middle school case study. Beyond Behavior, 20(2), 31-39.
Kerr, M.M. & Nelson, C.M. (2010). Strategies for Addressing Behavior Problems in the Classroom. Upper Saddle River, NJ, Pearson Education Inc.

Madsen, C.H., Becker, W.C. & Thomas, D.R. (1968). Rules, praise, and ignoring: Elements of elementary classroom control. Journal of Applied Behavioral Analysis, 1(2), 139-150.

Marchant, M., and Anderson, D.H. (2012). Improving social and academic outcomes for all learners through the use of teacher praise. Beyond Behavior, 21(3), 22-28.

Moffat, T.K. (2011). Increasing the teacher rate of behavior-specific praise and its effect on a child with aggressive behavior problems. Kairaranga, 12(1), 51-58.
Sutherland, K.S., Wehby, J.H., & Copeland, S. R. (2000). Effect of varying rates of behavior-specific praise on the on-task behavior of students with EBD. Journal of Emotional and Behavioral Disorders, 8(1), 2-8.

Stormont, M. & Reinke, W. (2009). The importance of pre-corrective statements and behavior-specific praise and strategies to increase their use. Beyond Behavior, 18(3), 26-32.

Stormont, M., Reinke, W., & Herman, K. (2011). Teachers’ characteristics and ratings for evidence-based behavioral interventions. Behavioral Disorders, 37(1). 19-29.
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