Praise where praise is due

22nd June 2001 at 01:00
Making too much of high grades can leave children at a disadvantage when they encounter setbacks. Praise for success and intelligence can leave them thinking that learning and mastering new skills aren't as important as getting good marks.

Psychologists at Columbia University in New York studied more than 400 11-year-olds under conditions in which they experienced failure as well as success. One group was praised for intelligence and the other for effort.

Children commended for achievement were found to be highly performance-orientated and vulnerable to feeling bad when they did less well. They also felt that intelligence was something you were born with and couldn't be developed.

Children who were given positive encouragement for their efforts tended to cocentrate on learning goals and strategies for achievement. When they performed badly, they saw it as a temporary setback caused by not trying hard enough. Instead of feeling that they were failures, they voiced determination to use strategies to do better next time.

This could help explain why high-achieving girls in primaries perform less well at secondary. Teachers' praising them for intelligence early in their education could, ironically, be lowering their motivation and performance as lessons become more demanding.

"Praise for intelligence can undermine children's motivation and performance" by Claudia M Mueller and Carol S Dweck, Columbia University, in Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Vol. 75, No.1. email: dweck@psych. columbia.edu


Subscribe to get access to the content on this page.

If you are already a Tes/ Tes Scotland subscriber please log in with your username or email address to get full access to our back issues, CPD library and membership plus page.

Not a subscriber? Find out more about our subscription offers.
Subscribe now
Existing subscriber?
Enter subscription number

Comments

The guide by your side – ensuring you are always up to date with the latest in education.

Get Tes magazine online and delivered to your door. Stay up to date with the latest research, teacher innovation and insight, plus classroom tips and techniques with a Tes magazine subscription.
With a Tes magazine subscription you get exclusive access to our CPD library. Including our New Teachers’ special for NQTS, Ed Tech, How to Get a Job, Trip Planner, Ed Biz Special and all Tes back issues.

Subscribe now