(CNN) — Teachers who punish students in class may not get the good behavior they’re seeking a new study suggests.
Praise, instead of punishment, in the classroom.
A new study suggests that is what will make elementary students stay more focused on their schoolwork and lessons.
Researchers spent three years counting teacher praise and reprimands in more than 150 classrooms in 19 US elementary schools.
In half of those classrooms, teachers were told to teach as they typically did.
In the other half, teachers were required to follow a behavioral intervention program in which teachers first teach children social skills through repetition discussion and role play.
The teachers then formed student teams praising the students with a verbal indication of approval when they followed those good social behaviors.
The lead author of the research published in the journal educational psychology says as elementary teachers’ praise over punishment ratio increases so does on-task behavior.
He says the more a teacher praised and the less they scolded the better-focused students were on their lessons.
Those who provided the most praise saw up to 30-percent more positive student behavior.
While researchers say it’s not realistic to imagine that a teacher never use a reprimand studies show that keeping those to a bare minimum works best.