Is Praise Undermining Student Motivation?

The failure of praise
Research has found that praise can actually undermine performance and self-esteem in many contexts. One study found that praise for intelligence leads to the belief by the recipient that their intelligence is fixed, and thus not something that they can influence through action or effort (Dweck, 2007). This is critical because intelligence is in fact malleable, and improved by taking risks. Students grow when they try something difficult that might lead to failure. Because failure is one of the most important tools for learning, growth requires a mindset that embraces challenge and the potential for failure.


I teach veteran teachers how to do something new.  My students are masters of their content. Most arrive with significant teaching skill and a good deal of anxiety at being out of their comfort zone. 

Any yet they persist. They take the RISK of failing and turn the opportunity into new learning.  

Of utmost importance in this article is the sound, research backed advice on how to give more effective feedback.  Indeed specific feedback trumps general praise.  This is an excellent and thought provoking read! 


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