Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Science Education

Degree Level



Curriculum and Instruction


Speight, Renee

Committee Member/Reader

Kucharczyk, Suzanne


Behavior-specific praise (BSP) is an evidence-based classroom management practice that can be used to increase desired behavior and decrease undesired behavior. Teachers use general praise (GP) more frequently even though it has proven to be less effective than BSP. This study extends previous research on frequency behavior-specific praise in mid-level classrooms. The expected outcome was that mid-level teacher rates of BSP would be much lower than GP. The proposed research questions include the following: What are middle school teacher’s rates of general praise vs. behavior-specific praise? Do teachers deliver behavior-specific praise more frequently to individual students or groups of students? What are teacher perceptions of behavior-specific praise? Participants of this study included a volunteer sample of mid-level teachers from two schools. 14 teachers consented to participate, then completed demographic surveys. These teachers represented a variety of subject areas including English, Math, Science, STEM, EAST, Theatre, Music, Band, Bridge, and Self-Contained Special Education. The average age of the responding teachers was 40.2. After reaching inter-observer agreement with my mentor, I began conducting 15-minute observations. During observations, I recorded the frequency of teacher use of GP and BSP using tally marks on the data log I created. After completing 2 observations with a teacher, I sent the URP-IR survey to collect information on teacher perception of behavior-specific praise as an evidence-based practice. Teacher GP rates averaged 5.2 while BSP rates averaged 0.52 per 15-minute observations. 66.7% of BSP was given to individual students while 33.3% of BSP was given to groups of students. The average ratings determined by teacher responses on the URP-IR social validity survey indicated teachers had high levels of agreement with acceptability, understanding, home school collaboration, feasibility, system climate, and system support regarding behavior-specific praise as an evidence-based practice. Using a 6-point scale, the average agreement of each measured factor ranged from 3.5-5.3. Rates of mid-level teacher use of behavior-specific praise were significantly lower than rates of general praise. Twice the amount of BSP was directed toward individual students than groups of students, revealing that teachers deliver BSP more frequently to individual students. When reviewing teacher perceptions of BSP as an evidence-based practice, teachers responses indicated a positive perception of BSP. One limitation of this study is the small sample size, as only 14 teachers participated in direct observations and 10 of those 14 completed the social validity survey.


education, classroom management, praise, behavior-specific praise, general praise, teacher perception