Full Question: There is a journal going to every school in the United Kingdom called Impact via The Chartered College. This second issue focuses on cognitive science, which suggests that praise is an effective reward! I’d just been in Liverpool telling teachers all about the negative impact of praise. What is your take on the research that’s referenced?
Answer: “I laugh and get amused when writers surround their claims with reference to brain, cortex and all the fancy literature. There is a huge literature on praise – and yes it is not clear cut but …We argue that when you mix praise with feedback information about the task or processes it is has a serious dampening effect – as when you ask the kids a day later what they recalled you said they recall the praise not the feedback about the task! But there is nothing wrong with our human desire to be praised – just keep it separate from feedback about the work. There is SO much evidence that extrinsic rewards (which often praise is) has a marked negative effect on long term learning, investment and love of learning. Once again, praise is problematic. So, we argue nothing wrong with praise – but separate it from feedback about task etc. And then there is the debate about what forms of praise – praise person, social, effort – but the above still stands” (John Hattie, personal communication, March 3, 2018).