February 20, 2014
The Right Kind of Praise
Thesis statement: Praising a child’s achievement because of his or her ability, rather than for the process that led to the achievement, falters the child’s confidence, self-motivation, self-worth, and over-all performance, either academic, creative, or athletic, because children unconsciously believe that intelligence is an innate and unchangeable ability, making them more concerned about proving this ability rather than finding and discovering strategies to master and gain knowledge. I. It is believed that praise for intelligence helps a child’s cognitive development. A. Intelligence praise maintains an individual’s academic achievement motivation, behaviors, and strategies. 1. Praise for intelligence makes children aware of their abilities and this encourages them to continue to work in order to succeed (Mueller & Dweck, 1998). B. Intelligence praise makes a child feel smarter, thus a boosted self-esteem that would lead to greater feelings of motivation. 1. Most parents, and even child-care experts, believe that praising children for their intelligence when performing well makes them motivated to learn because intelligence praise makes children believe that that have the ability (Mueller & Dweck, 1998; Mueller & Dweck, 1996). 2. According to Mueller & Dweck (1996), labeling children as smart increases their task enjoyment and feelings of motivation towards achievement.
II. Intelligence praise actually leads to the belief that intelligence or ability is fixed and stable, leading to problems that interfere with learning. A. Belief that intelligence is a fixed entity leads children to pursue performance goals, goals that prove their high ability through successful performance, making them less confident to take on challenges that cannot ensure success. 1. Pursuing a performance goal requires children to perceive their ability as high before taking on challenging tasks (Dweck, 1986; M. Bandura & Dweck, 1985; Elliot & Dweck, 1985). 2. Individuals would either choose to take on personally easy tasks that can guarantee their success or very difficult tasks that would not attribute their failure to low ability (Dweck, 1986; M. Bandura & Dweck, 1985; Elliot & Dweck, 1985). 3. Performance goals appear to promote defensive strategies that can interfere with challenge seeking (Dweck, 1986). B. Children with an entity belief risks learning strategies for opportunities to look smart or talented. 1. According to Dweck (1986; Elliot & Dweck, 1985; see Covington, 1988), when individuals perceive their ability to be high, they tend to sacrifice opportunities to gain or master learning strategies in exchange for appearing smart. 2. Mueller & Dweck (1998; Elliot & Dweck, 1988) suggests that children would risk valuable learning strategies if pursuing these strategies could result to making errors or mistakes and cannot ensure immediate success. 3. In an experiment done by Mueller & Dweck (1998), where one set of children were asked to solve easy problems and were then praised for their intelligence after good performance, and were given the opportunity to either answer another easy problem or a more difficult one, children praised for intelligence after success chose easy problems that would allow them to continue good performance. 4. Dweck (1985, p. 1043) points out that “an over concern with ability may lead children to shun the very tasks that foster its growth.” 5. In an experiment done by Mueller & Dweck (1998), after answering challenging problems, where children were asked to choose between two folders: one containing techniques to answer the problems and another containing information about the scores of others, individuals who pursued performance goals chose a folder containing score information rather than strategy information. 6. It is ironic that children who were more concerned with their performance would choose to “handicap themselves”...
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