What effect does the introduction of Praise Postcards have on the confidence of a class of S2 pupils, and on the quality and quantity of the work they produce?
This enquiry focuses on the effect of the introduction of digital ‘praise postcards’ on pupils’ standard of work and confidence in online learning. The enquiry was introduced in response to the perceived need for more teacher-pupil interaction during a period of lockdown at-home learning. The GTCS standards for full registration specify that teachers should “use a range of communication methods, including a variety of media, to promote and develop positive relationships to motivate and sustain the interest and participation of all learners”. This enquiry seeks to fulfil this standard by providing evidence based research in support of the theory that learners’ interest and motivation is maintained through the use of Praise Postcards. In a Modern Languages lesson, pupils can struggle with motivation and engagement as they traverse out of the comfort zone of their first language. Learners are prone to giving up when they encounter obstacles (such as those that online learning presents). Praising their effort can help pupils develop a “growth mindset” (Dweck, 2007), therefore enabling them to become more “confident individuals”; one of the aims set out by the Curriculum for Excellence.
The aim of this enquiry has been to increase the quality and quantity of the work completed by a group of S2 Spanish pupils whilst online learning during the 2021 Covid Lockdown. This aim coincides with the Scottish Government’s raising attainment initiative, “…in order that every child can succeed in school and gain the skills for life. The Scottish Attainment Challenge aims to raise the attainment of children and young people living in deprived areas, in order to close the equity gap.”
As well as increasing the quality and quantity of work submitted, the enquiry aimed to increase pupils’ confidence in their online learning. Jenaro Díaz Ducca (2014) found that “encouragement in the form of praise also fostered the student’s self -confidence”. In this uncertain time in the pupils’ school careers we found it pertinent to focus on the theme of confidence, so as to encourage a sustained high level of educational value in their home learning.