Wednesday, August 25, 2021

Study finds praising middle school students improves on-task behavior by up to 70%


News Release 25-Aug-2021
Peer-Reviewed Publication
Brigham Young University


Students speaking out of turn, texting, telling rude jokes, falling asleep in class, making distracting gestures — managing these behaviors is all in a day’s work for many middle school teachers, who shepherd adolescents through some of their most trying years. Add in the disruptions of a global pandemic to exacerbate student anxiety and depression, and this year middle school teachers may find themselves with more challenging behaviors to address than ever before.

But a recent BYU paper points out the power of focusing on the positive in sixth through eighth grade.

The study found that when middle school teachers praised students at least as often as they reprimanded them, class-wide on-task behavior improved by 60–70%. Students at high risk for emotional and behavioral disorders were also more likely to be on task, and their classroom marks went up by a full letter grade, compared to high-risk students in classrooms where teachers rarely offered praise. While there was no magic ratio, when teachers praised students more often than correcting them, or even stopped reprimanding completely, behavior improved dramatically — every bit of praise counts.


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