Teachers’ Use of Specific, Contingent, and Varied Praise

Andrew Markelz, Benjamin Riden, Margaret T. Floress, Kinga Balint-Langel, Joshua Heath, Shelby Pavelka

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Behavior-specific praise is a research-based classroom management strategy that promotes appropriate student behaviors. Praise specificity, however, may not be the only characteristic of praise that enhances efficacy. The current study examined teacher’s natural use of specific, contingent, and varied praise to understand additional qualities of praise. Praise statements of inservice special education (n = 12), inservice general education (n = 13), and dual special education/general education preservice (n = 17) teachers were observed in natural elementary school settings. Statistical results did not indicate differences between teacher groups and praise characteristics; however, descriptive results demonstrate all teacher groups delivered low rates of general and specific praise. Percentages of praise contingency (average range = 59%–91.2%) suggest teachers did not deliver sufficient praise statements contingent on student behavior. Furthermore, percentages of praise variety (average range = 44.5%–57.7%) show use of repetitive praise statements that may reduce efficacy on student behaviors. These findings and other implications are discussed in the context of future praise research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)110-121
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Positive Behavior Interventions
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 19 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Hammill Institute on Disabilities 2021.


  • general education
  • natural rates
  • special education
  • teacher praise


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