Praise Versus Encouragement

The words and actions of teachers can act as encouragement when the focus is on the learner and the process of learning, or they can act as praise when the focus of teacher attention is on the product or outcome of learning. The distinction between praise and encouragement is important. Students can’t receive praise if they have not learned, but they can get encouragement to help them learn.

Many teachers believe that praising students will stimulate them to behave appropriately and this is often true if students can accomplish the task required. When praise is reserved only for difficult tasks or given too freely, it loses its effect. It may be interpreted by students as manipulation and be seen by them as meaning that they have measured up to another’s arbitrary standards.

Encouragement always involves the student and their efforts to learn, whereas the focus of praise should always be student behavior.

Typical statements of praise and their encouragement equivalents are:

Praise Encouragement
‘I am please that you topped the history test.’ ‘I see that you enjoy studying history.’
‘Ten out of ten, good girl!’ ‘You must really enjoy maths!’
‘You were the best violinist at the concert!’ ‘You have really practiced hard on the violin this year.’
‘You are the best monitor we have, Sandra!’ ‘ I appreciate your help in the classroom Sandra.’
‘You have the neatest writing in the class.’ ‘Looks as though you are really enjoying your writing.’
I am so proud of your artwork. ‘It is nice to see that you enjoy art.’

An interactive quiz may be found below. The first part focuses on identifying whether a statement is either praise or encouragement. The second on principles that best describes the use of praise.

Instructions:

You need to answer 10 questions focusing on Praise versus Encouragement statements. Simply click on your choice from the options provided, your score and answers will be provided at the end of the quiz.


Encouragement always involves the student and their efforts to learn, whereas the focus of praise should always be student behavior.

1. Identify the following statement as either praise or encouragement.

‘You have taken a good deal of care with your assignment.’

 
 

2. Identify the following statement as either praise or encouragement.

‘That’s a difficult problem but I am sure you will work it out.’

 
 

3. Identify the following statement as either praise or encouragement.

‘I am proud of you for behaving so well at the sports carnival.’

 
 

4. Identify the following statement as either praise or encouragement.

‘Sally and Jane are such great helpers to me.’

 
 

5. Identify the following statement as either praise or encouragement.

‘You are the smartest one to have worked out that problem by yourself.’

 
 

6. Identify the following statement as either praise or encouragement.

‘I can certainly appreciate your help in the library, Allan.’

 
 

7. Read the statement below then indicate which principle you think best describes the use of praise in the statement.

‘You are writing much better but you must improve your spelling.’

 
 
 
 

8. Read the statement below then indicate which principle you think best describes the use of praise in the statement.

‘That’s a good start to algebra.’

 
 
 
 

9. Read the statement below then indicate which principle you think best describes the use of praise in the statement.

‘I see you enjoy woodwork.’

 
 
 
 

10. Read the statement below then indicate which principle you think best describes the use of praise in the statement.

‘Jan has the tidiest desk in the class.’