Teacher Verbal Feedback: Exploring Differences in Classroom Use and the Relationship with Student Behavior



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Background: Teachers report off-task student behavior is a concern and spend more time managing it than they believe they should. One component of classroom management is teacher feedback to students in the form of praise and correction. Feedback has high utility value and is often touted in education communities as an important tool for classroom management. Purpose: The purpose of this study was to examine teachers’ natural rates of praise (both general and behavior specific) and correction in the K-12 setting, along with student behavior in the classroom. Methods: Data were collected from 113 teacher-classroom dyads during the 2018-2019 academic school year in a large, predominantly white, suburban school district. One observation of 25-minutes’ duration gathered rates of teacher feedback (general praise, behavior specific praise [BSP], and correction) and student on-task behavior. Teacher and class demographic variables were collected through an electronic survey sent after the classroom observation. Relationships between variables were examined through descriptive, t-test, ANOVA, correlation, and multiple linear regression analyses. Results: Average rates of teacher feedback during a 20-minute observation were 10.32 general, 4.52 BSP, and 10.86 corrections. General praise (F = 6.07, p = .003, η^2 = .10), BSP (F = 15.76, p = .001, η^2 = .22), and total feedback (F = 12.19, p = .001, η^2 = .18), were significantly different based on grade group with lower elementary teachers offering the most and secondary teachers offering the least. Teacher demographic variables were related to rate of feedback and student behavior. Teachers with more experience, years teaching and higher license level, tended to have classrooms that were more on-task. As teacher age increased the rate of general, BSP, and total feedback decreased. First year and novice teachers offered more corrections and had classrooms that were less on-task. Finally, teacher rates of general praise are significantly positively (β = .27) associated and correction significantly negatively (β = -.41) associated with student on-task behavior when adjusting for teacher demographic variables. Conclusion: This study demonstrated a positive relationship between praise and student on-task behavior: positive classrooms are more on-task. Correction is related to more off-task classrooms. Findings from this study indicate feedback is an effective classroom management tool that is free and within the control of the teacher to use.



teacher feedback, praise, correction, student behavior, on-task