Teachers’ Use and Beliefs About Praise: A Mixed-Methods Study

Elisa S. Shernoff, Adam L. Lekwa, Linda A. Reddy and William Davis:

Using a convergent parallel mixed methods design, we examined changes in teachers’ use of praise during instruction (verbal or nonverbal statements or gestures to provide feedback for appropriate behavior) and explored teachers’ perceptions regarding barriers and facilitators to using praise during coaching. Forty-eight teachers who identified praise as a professional development goal participated in the quantitative strand and 11 of the 48 teachers participated in the qualitative strand. Mixed effects zero-inflated negative binomial models revealed that teachers used 4.03 praise statements per 30-min observation at baseline, which increased by a factor of 1.05 between coaching sessions. Praise discrepancy scores at baseline were estimated at 7.48 with an average decrease (reflecting reduced need for change) of −0.25 over time. Thematic analyses of coaching sessions highlighted facilitators (e.g., feedback without having to criticize) and barriers (e.g., interferes with instruction) to using praise, although the integration of quantitative and qualitative findings did not yield consistent patterns between the number of facilitators or barriers coded and specific teacher outcomes. Implications for the practice of school psychologists in their work with teachers along with future directions for research are discussed.