Christopher Johnston


St. Aidan’s High School

  • Growth Mindset

What happens when the teacher uses praise for effort in the classroom?


Understanding what motivates students to persevere in their learning is not a new endeavour. The work of Carol Dweck (1999) has contributed much to the discussion of how much innate talent is required in learning, versus a determined attitude and sustained effort in learning. In other words, whether someone is of a fixed or growth mindset. Dweck’s point of view is if you use praise for what a learner is (e.g. talented musician or sports person) then they are more likely to be cautious and unadventurous. Alternatively, if you direct praise towards a learner’s effort then a persistent approach to challenge is cultivated and an increased possibility of achievement.

In the How Good Is Our School 4 (HGIOS 4) document, QI 2.3, schools and teachers are asked to reflect upon the quality of teaching and, therefore, the quality of learner feedback. This being an aspect of the school improvement plan, I wanted to focus on a specific element of feedback through the use of praise. What significance does praise have on a student’s effort when confronted with challenge and how does the student engage with their work after receiving praise?


  • Does praise have any significance on pupil effort?
  • Do praising pupils for effort impact on their engagement in the work/lesson?
Download Practitioner Enquiry