Graduate Program

School Psychology

Degree Name

Specialist in School Psychology

Semester of Degree Completion

Spring 2020

Thesis Director

Margaret T. Floress

Thesis Committee Member

Assege HaileMariam

Thesis Committee Member

Anne M. Walk


The current study examined teachers’ use of diverse praise or the use of verbal statements or gestures of approval that are delivered in a variety of distinguishable ways in response to desired student behavior. Verbatim general praise and behavior-specific praise data collected during the 2017-18 academic year were analyzed from a larger study where a total of 1,320 observed minutes were collected across 66 middle and high school classrooms. Teachers used an average of 1.7 total diverse praise categories per observation. Both middle and high school teachers used more general diverse praise categories compared to behavior-specific diverse praise categories. The most commonly observed categories included the adjective (e.g., great; 68%), work (e.g., nice work, 18%), and compliance/appreciation (e.g., thank you, 18%) GDP categories. Overall, the only GDP categories coded included general praise that was delivered verbally. There was no statistically significant difference between middle and high school teachers’ use of diverse praise. When comparing overall middle school (sixth through eighth grade) and high school (ninth through twelfth grade) total diverse praise (TDP), general diverse praise (GDP), and behavior-specific diverse praise (BSDP) numbers were similar and the averages obtained from each category were relatively stable (i.e., without trend).