QUOTE(owainsutton @ Mar 30 2012, 10:13 PM)
I remember reading a study a while ago, with pre-school children, which showed how problematic this is. I can't remember the details, but it was to do with spontaneous drawing for pleasure, as opposed to requested drawing with or without the promise of a reward. Those who were routinely told they would be rewarded at the end of the task were found, later on, to be less inclined to draw for pleasure.
Quite separately, I have once singled out a pupil for a shower of superlative-laden general praise, but this was when saying goodbye due to me moving away, and she did (and still does) stand out as an exceptionally promising young musician
I hope this isn't too longIn response to the quote
There was a study on the subject not too long ago, and as you said they showed there were better results when children were given praise, and not material rewards.
It's akin to a story about a jewish man who owned a shop in Germany in the late 1930's. The SS praised young boys to go round stoning jewish shop windows. So one day one of the shop owners went out and gave each of the boys some money (say a pound). They were all shocked and ran off. The next week when they did the same, he paid them a bit less (say 80p), with them running off again but a bit dissapointed. He gradually decreased the amount he was paying them until it was only penny's worth. At which point the leading boy said: "we're not going to come round and smash your windows any more because you don't pay us enough!"
The morale being: if you give someone verbal praise, they will do it for free and the joy of it. If you give them a gold star, they will do it for a reward. And once that stops coming, they won't want to do it again.In response to the thread
Anyway I have a bit more to add as I feel strongly on this subject. I'm not a teacher though so take what I say with a pinch of salt. I just enjoy psychology.
Skinner showed when he was doing experiments on behaviour that animals respond dramatically better to positive reinforcement (praise and material reward) than to negative reinforcement (punishment). This is largely reinforced throughout behavioural psychology and is also seen in a lot of parenting books around. The point is essentially: encouragement and praise gives a person a positive experience. This makes them want to replicate and continue it. Whereas negativity will make them do it to avoid punishment, not for the enjoyment of it.
I know a lot of you talk about making sure young children enjoy instruments by not forcing it and encouraging them. But that is exactly what praise is for, whilst negative comments, especially at a young/tender age, might make a younger child feel like they can't do it and not want to try again. (Ideally comments like: that was really nice, but could you practice this more at home because I want you to be even better. or something along those lines).
That's the basics, but as with everything it is a ###### of a lot more complicated.
Different children will always react differently to certain situations. Some may prefer constructive criticism so as to know how to improve, some will like praise so that they will want to improve. Ideally they would get both. You can imagine though, if a pupil had just learnt a piece, whether difficult or easy, and had played relatively competently, then being berated with ways on how they can improve slightly, without any praise about how well they had done, might be a bit put off.
The effect is much stronger if they are new to music though. You'll find anyone who has been doing anything for a long period of time (sport, music, artistry) will be much more able to deal with negative comments and move on without minding, than someone new to the subject. I don't think I knew anyone who enjoyed taking their report card from school home, so that their parents could get at them for all the 'could do better' comments but ignore the A+ grades they had got. But they probably wouldn't mind if the comments were balanced. (you did this really well, but you need to improve on this).
From what I'm hearing from most people is that people need to give a spectacular performance to get some praise, but only give a mildly poor performance for negative comments. I mean, do you think that when you give positive praise you will always balance it with some ways to improve. But when you talk more negatively about a performance you will always praise parts of it as well?
I haven't been taught for a while so I'm taking this from what I've read and friends experiences (as well as some older memories) so please feel free to completely disagree with me.
All I'm trying to say is that:
Constructive criticism is great for telling someone how to improve.
But praise is a great way to make someone want to improve.
You probably need both to get the best out of the student right?
That's my two cents anyway.Edit:
Forgot to add:
Adults should probably be able to take a lot more criticism than a child, although they often are much more self-critical so they probably need to be encouraged as much as a young child anyway!!!
a lot of people have mentioned getting pupils to criticise each other. Has anyone tried getting pupils to criticise themselves? I would be interested to know how it went! (If children then learnt how to know intuitively what to improve by reflecting on their own pieces).
And lastly (I need to stop editing this post) going back on what I said at the top. A more recent study showed that it is a much better idea not to tell kids: 'Oh you are very good at that'. But instead say: 'Wow, you must have worked really hard on that because it looks/sounds/is really good!'
When tested in a classroom with abstract puzzles, the former helped the children a bit, and made them feel good. But for fear of losing the reputation of being 'good' didn't want to risk doing anything too hard.
The children who had a reputation of 'hard worker = good' persevered with harder tasks until they were completed, even if it took ages.