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Effective Praise

Article: A Parametric Analysis of Specific Praise Rates on the On-Task Behavior of Elementary Students with Autism. By Kranak and others, in Education and Training in Autism and Developmental Disabilities, 2017, 52(4).

In grad school I remember where I was when I first heard that praise is the most effective way to get kids to do what you want. My professor went on to explain that the effective use of praise makes punishment virtually unnecessary. This is not a humanistic idea, this is science.

There are a couple things I want to point out from this article, and one item I want to make clear. The item to make clear is that the praise they are talking about is not likely illegitimate praise (e.g., everyone gets a trophy), nor is it simply being positive and smiling. No behavior is 100% wrong, which means that even in the act of misbehaving there is something to praise which will direct the child back to right-behavior.

Things about this article I really liked is that the researchers were laser focused on "how much" praise is needed. If praise is to be used as an intervention or a "treatment" for misbehavior, one needs to know if there is an effective dose. They discovered that 4 times per minute is the effective dose for kids with attention issues (like the ASD kids in the study). And again, the study puts the responsibility right back on the teacher, where it should be, to get the correct dose. Teachers used a timer (the MotiveAider I use) to prompt them to praise kids at the effective dose.

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