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Masters of Special Education with Academic Instruction Certification

Use of Praise - Topic 24

What is it?

Most teachers strive to provide their students a positive climate for learning (Emmer & Evertson, 2009). In combination with other approaches (e.g., classroom rules and expectations, etc.), the effective use of praise helps promote an effective learning environment. Praise consists of the teacher providing approval for student’s or students’ behavior. When approval is combined with a label for the behavior (i.e., You did a great job putting your books away), teachers make use of descriptive or specific praise. In total, praise has long been known to effectively and efficiently help classroom management concerns as well as academic outcomes (Brophy, 1981). With the primary job of creating student behavior via instruction and practice, teachers who effectively use praise encourage students to continue to perform appropriate pro-social and academic behaviors.

Why is it important?

Praise is a versatile and important teaching tool, because first and foremost teachers consistently have it in ready supply. Teachers can attend to students before, during, and after instruction – almost anytime during the school day. Teachers can use praise for both academic (e.g., Way to go! You answered that problem correctly) and social behaviors (Wow. Awesome job taking turns). Teachers can also use praise to supplement and enforce classroom rules such as waiting to answer a question until being acknowledged. Praise not only conveys important meaning to students, but also often acts as positive reinforcement or a way to increase the likelihood of the behavior it follows. When used effectively, praise provides a cost-effective classroom management aid to even the most difficult teaching situations.


Brophy, J. (1981). Teacher praise: A functional analysis. Review of Educational Research, 51, 5-32

Emmer, E. T., & Evertson, C. M. (2009). Classroom management for middle and high school

teachers. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.

Web Links

IRIS Center - Encouraging Appropriate Behavior

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