Academic journal article Education & Treatment of Children

An Evaluation of the Evidence Base for Performance Feedback to Improve Teacher Praise Using CEC's Quality Indicators

Academic journal article Education & Treatment of Children

An Evaluation of the Evidence Base for Performance Feedback to Improve Teacher Praise Using CEC's Quality Indicators

Article excerpt


Despite a rich body of empirical evidence that supports the use of teacher praise to improve student outcomes, it continues to be underused in practice. One method of ameliorating this problem is the use of performance feedback. Although some studies have indicated that the use of performance feedback is an effective approach for increasing teachers' use of praise, the quality of the literature base has yet to be examined. The purpose of this study was to examine the current literature base related to the use of performance feedback to increase teachers' use of praise to determine whether it could be classified as an evidence-based practice. A systematic review of the literature was conducted, and each study was evaluated using the Council for Exceptional Children's (CEC) Standards for Evidence-Based Practices in Special Education (i.e., quality indicators). Fourteen single-case studies were reviewed for methodological rigor across 21 quality indicators. Results indicated that performance feedback is a promising practice to increase teachers' use of praise; however, not enough studies met quality standards to classify the practice as evidence-based. Future research should focus on conducting studies that meet the standards set forth by the CEC to build empirical support for the use of performance feedback as a method for increasing teachers' use of praise.

Keywords: performance feedback, praise, evidence-based practice, quality indicators


Students with or at risk for emotional and behavioral disorders (EBD) have a long-standing history of academic failure and poor social outcomes. Academically, students with EBD have persistently demonstrated failure in both reading and mathematics (Nelson, Benner, Lane, & Smith, 2004; Trout, Nordness, Pierce, & Epstein, 2003). The outcomes of this population are particularly alarming considering that to qualify for special education services as a student with EBD, one must have learning challenges that are not the result of other intellectual factors (IDEA, 2004). In other words, there can be no cognitive deficits that impede the learning of students with EBD. Rather, the behavior of students with EBD interferes with their access to the curriculum and learning environment, which then leads to large deficits in basic academic skills and content area knowledge. In addition to subject area failure, students with EBD experience failure in a broader sense within the educational system; they are among the least likely to graduate and are more likely to drop out or be expelled than any other subgroup of students with disabilities--a prelude to numerous poor, long-term post-secondary outcomes (Newman et al., 2011). These students are typically characterized by severe and chronic behavior problems such as--but not limited to--anxiety, depression, physical aggression, verbal assault, noncompliance, disorderly conduct, impaired social interactions, troubled relationships with peers and adults, and a disregard for rules and authority (Kauffman & Landrum, 2013). Given that the internalizing and externalizing behaviors of students with EBD are often incompatible with the demands and expectations of a typical classroom setting, it is not surprising that these students are more challenging for educators to teach than students in any other subgroup of special education (Bradley, Doolittle, & Bartolotta, 2008).

Although the educational crisis of students with EBD is due--in large part--to their maladaptive behavior, educators, administrators, and researchers must also take responsibility for the poor outcomes of this population. One plausible barrier to the success of students with EBD is the discrepancy between research and practice (Fitzpatrick & Knowlton, 2009; Maggin, Robertson, Oliver, Hollo, & Partin, 2010), a twofold problem. First, the field of EBD is in dire need of evidence-based practices (EBPs). Researchers must continue to conduct high-quality research and systematically evaluate the extant literature with the goal of establishing a larger evidence base from which practitioners can choose instructional strategies and interventions (Lewis, Hudson, Richter, & Johnson, 2004). …

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