Teachers should consider this principle if… they would like to understand the effectiveness of praise when delivering feedback.

Research suggests that 13% of teacher feedback is directed to the learner and not what they have demonstrated on the task. When this occurs, the feedback is usually in the form of non-specific praise directed towards the learner, for example: “good try!” or “well done.” Research suggests that this form of feedback can actually have a negative impact on student learning as it directs learner attention away from any constructive feedback that might be provided.

This is not to suggest that teachers should not use praise at all. Praise is important to tell students what they have done well, and to build a positive relationship between the student and teacher. Based on this, teachers should avoid general use of praise, and instead direct praise specifically to reinforce things done well on the task. For example, this might look like one of the following statements:

“Great opening statement as it clearly addresses the question.”

“You were successful in this task because you turned in each required section on time. This allowed you to receive feedback prior to submitting the final draft.”

When this principle is in action:

The teacher…

– Directs specific praise towards actions on the task, and behaviors that have led to success.
– Avoids general statements of praise directed towards the learner.
– Using Keyset, the teacher can pre-program specific steps that were taken in successfully completing the task.

The student…

– Has positive actions and behaviors reinforced.
– Receives specific statements of praise so they know what to do again next time.


Hattie & Timperley, Power of Feedback

The power of effective praise

Praise in the classroom

8 ways to give praise (Top 4)