What is the Impact of Praise on Behaviour?

Author: Bethany Spencer

Posted: 31 Jul 2018

Estimated time to read: 3 mins

Behaviour management is a fundamental pillar of the whole classroom management system. The behaviour of students in the classroom impacts a teacher’s ability to provide effective teaching and learning, as well as other students’ ability to retain knowledge and advance in their studies.

Behaviour management is recognised universally through the issuing of praise and sanctions although the way in which these actions are delivered can vary depending on culture and upbringing. However, regardless of how praise or sanctions are delivered, the reinforcement of positive behaviour and reprimanding of negative behaviour is seen as effective strategy in overall classroom management.

Impact of praise on behaviour

In fact, in UK secondary schools a behaviour policy is recommended by the Department for Education and, although pupil behaviour is already a component of what Ofsted look for in during inspection, it was announced earlier in the year that there will be a greater emphasis on pupil behaviour during inspections in a bid to improve the whole-school’s learning experience.

The way in which praise is delivered, and how students are reprimanded, is inevitably going to impact on their behaviour but whether or not this is done in a positive manner is dependent on your approach.

Praise and encouragement in the classroom, when used effectively, helps to reinforce positive behaviours and reduce negative. It's also important to note that although useful in helping to recognise and reinforce good behaviour, praise can also be used as a tool to help students raise their self esteem.

Focusing on positive feedback has been found to produce better results than focusing on negative feedback

Helping to foster students’ confidence in a subject matter is critical to their interest in a subject but also to their personal development, and praise and encouragement can help give students the extra support they need to feel capable and able to complete tasks or to speak up in class for students who are more shy.

However, when using praise as a tool for classroom management, in order for it to work, it needs to be given effectively. There has been extensive research into what is considered ‘good praise’ and although there is no solid answer as to what you should do, because you can’t predict how all students will react, there is still general agreement on what approach should be taken to giving praise which are listed below.

Meaningful praise

Giving generic praise or giving praise too often can result in it becoming meaningless. In order for praise to have a positive impact on behaviour it should be specific to actions and sincere, and the key is ‘less is more’. Delivering praise privately or subtly is better at encouraging good behaviour.

Focus on positive behaviour

When there are misbehaving students in class, it can be easy to want to focus your attention on them but instead of reprimanding them, it can instead give them the attention they’re striving for. Instead, give kudos for the students who are behaving well

House points

When schools operate in houses it creates a sense of community - students are more inclined to work towards achieving points for themselves and their peers, as well as encouraging each other to behave well.


There are mixed reviews surrounding incentives, however, in a recent study it was found that the incentive of school trips was unanimously successful in encouraging good behaviour for all students.  

Contact home

From a recent study the most successful strategy to encourage positive behaviour and hard work is the prospect of a phone call home to parents. Relaying the positive news is the thing most likely to encourage good behaviour.

Managing behaviour can be difficult but is necessary for achieving complete classroom management successfully. Additionally, the impact of positive praise for students is so much more than just classroom management, it’s their own personal development which will help them to be successful throughout their life.

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