Does inflated praise deflate some children?

A new article published in Psychological Science suggests that using inflated praise with children with low self-esteem may be counter-productive. The authors conducted three studies. Two of these tested whether adults are more likely to give inflated praise to children with low self-esteem than to children with high self-esteem, both inside the laboratory (Study 1. N = 712 adults) and outside the laboratory (Study 2. N = 114 parents). A third experiment looked at whether inflated praise decreases challenge-seeking in children with low self-esteem (N = 240 children aged 8-12).

The findings showed that adults are especially inclined to give inflated praise, such as “You made an incredibly beautiful drawing!”, to children with low self-esteem. However, they also found that such praise decreases challenge-seeking in children with low self-esteem and has the opposite effect on children with high self-esteem. They conclude that inflated praise, although well intended, may cause children with low self-esteem to avoid crucial learning experiences.

Source: “That’s Not Just Beautiful–That’s Incredibly Beautiful!”: The Adverse Impact of Inflated Praise on Children With Low Self-Esteem (2014),Psychological Science, online first January 2014.

Which feedback adds up for maths lessons?

Researchers from the University of Kassel in Germany have written a new paper comparing two kinds of feedback in mathematics.

Process-oriented feedback (POF) is an evidence-based approach where pupils are given written feedback, including which mathematical operations have been properly applied and which have not, as well as how strategies can be improved. In social-comparative feedback (SCF) pupils are given only a grade for their work.

A total of 146 ninth-grade pupils (mean age 15.3 years) from 23 German secondary schools were randomly assigned to one of the two feedback conditions, POF or SCF. The authors then explored how useful the pupils found their feedback, and the impact it had on achievement and interest. POF was perceived as more useful and competence supportive (pupils believing that others think they are capable) than SCF. The total effects of POF on interest and achievement development were positive, but did not reach the threshold of statistical significance. The authors note that grades are strongly attached to pupils’ pride and sense of worth, whereas process-oriented feedback was, in contrast, generally new to them – therefore the study may underestimate the impact of POF.

Source: Written Feedback in Mathematics: Mediated by Students’ Perception, Moderated by Goal Orientation (2013), Learning and Instruction, 27.

Clicking our way to great teaching

The latest blogpost by the IEE’s Robert Slavin looks at electronic response devices, and the recent studies of Questions for Learning (QfL) conducted by the IEE. He concludes: “The classroom of the future will surely have some means of giving teachers and students immediate feedback on students’ learning, and quick means of accommodating differences in student proficiency. QfL seems like a major step in this direction. The findings of the early research are encouraging, and as clickers get ever smarter, the possibilities seem exciting.”

Source: Clicking our way to great teaching (2012), Education Week (Sputnik Blog)

Self-paced learning looks promising

A new study by the Institute for Effective Education has shown that self-paced learning could produce significant gains in primary maths learning. In self-paced learning pupils answer, at their own pace, questions delivered directly to electronic handsets.

The technology instantly marks the responses and feeds back the results to both pupil and teacher. Teachers can use this formative assessment to help pupils and guide future teaching. Significant gains in pupils’ mathematical learning were made by those pupils using the self-paced learning technology.

Source: Self-paced learning: Effective technology-supported formative assessment report on achievement findings (2011), Institute for Effective Education