Philip Henderson


Coltness High School

  • Growth Mindset

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


The work of Alan McLean on the motivated school argues that, “The most powerful motivation for learning comes from inside.” If this statement is to be accepted, how do we as teachers motivate pupils to achieve their full potential? With a clear focus of the Scottish government being to narrow the achievement gap, it is key that we do not have an ‘opt-out’ culture within our classrooms. The work of Dylan Wiliam through ‘The Classroom Experiment’ highlights the importance of participation and engagement. Wiliam states, “Smart is not something you are. Smart is something you get.”

I was particularly interested in a TED Talks video given by Beth Hennessey, a Psychology Professor, where she argued that motivation and creativity go hand in hand. Given the nature of my subject (music) I was particularly interested in the theory that motivation and creativity begin to dwindle over the time spent in school and therefore, intrinsic self-motivation is key to ensuring that creativity is not stifled.


McLean states, “The best teachers create a learning context that maximises the chances of students developing interests and removes the conditions that act as constraints.”

It was the groups aim to investigate whether or not ‘Praise for Effort’ can be used as a potential tool to create the best learning context for pupils to achieve their potential and identify whether or not this has a positive effect on pupil engagement and motivation for all learners in the class.

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