Public versus private praise: A direct behavioral comparison in secondary classrooms

John Travis Blaze

Abstract

The purpose of the present study was to compare the effects of teacher public and private praise on students' appropriately engaged behavior (AEB) and disruptive behaviors (DB). Overall, four general education classrooms in southern Mississippi employed a multiple-baseline design across two pairs to assess the effects of public and private praise. Each classroom's mean percentage of observed intervals of AEB and DB across public and private praise intervention phases was assessed and compared. Overall, visual analysis of the graphs, multilevel modeling, effect sizes, and odds ratios showed that both public and private praise were more effective than no treatment at increasing AEB and decreasing DB. In addition, there were no statistical or clinically significant differences between the public and private praise interventions. The results were discussed in light of the previous praise evidence-base and in the context of controversies in the literature base regarding the effectiveness of praise. It was recommended that both forms of praise should be utilized in high school classrooms.