Praise and Criticism as Forms of Feedback in #Physed
While checking out my Twitter feed this morning, I came across a link that was tweeted out by Dr. Richard Bailey, a researcher, speaker and writer. The link was to an article he had written for Psychology Today as part of his Smart Moves (the intersection of sport and learning) series. In the article published on November 1st, 2014, Dr Bailey addresses the fact that when giving praise, educators need to be extremely careful about the way in which they deliver it.
In fact, when given in the wrong way, praise can actually hinder learning, slow motivation, and decrease self-esteem. Many parents, teachers, and coaches believe that in today's world we need to lavishly praise while at the same time keep any kind of criticism to an absolute minimum when dealing with young people. Dr. Bailey uses the work of well-known psychologist Carol Dweck to support his argument that praise needs to be delivered in a way that celebrates effort put forth rather than ability possessed. When praise is given in this way, students are likely to develop more resilience which will ultimately lead to enhanced self-esteem and confidence.
So, is there a place for giving criticism when teaching and coaching young people? Dr. Bailey also touches upon the idea that criticism can be a very positive form of feedback when delivered in a thoughtful and caring manner.
Well-chosen criticism, delivered in an environment of high expectations and unconditional support, can inspire learning and development, whilst poorly judged praise can do more harm than good.
As Dr. Bailey's background is in education and sport, what he has to say is important for all physical educators to pay close attention to. I believe in my heart that many PE teachers have only the very best of intentions for their students and want to see them engaged and thriving in their classes. However, we must always be willing to dig deep and reflect upon the ways in which we provide feedback to our young learners. Is it possible that we may offer praise too freely in our classes? Do we tend to avoid criticism for fear of turning students off of PE?
If we are to maximize the impact and effectiveness of our PE programs, we need to ensure that the learning experiences we offer our students are firmly rooted in opportunities to express themselves freely through sport and fitness. Creating a learning environment in which joy, excitement, and love of movement are at the forefront of our programs, but to offer as much authentic feedback as possible along the way. This will help to prepare our students to lead more physically active lives and be more inclined to make sport and fitness a lifetime pursuit.
Be sure to read Dr. Bailey's The Problems With Praise article, it's well worth your time and energy!