Evaluative Praise or Descriptive Feedback
“The essence of independence is to be able to do something for one’s self. Adults work to finish a task, but the child works in order to grow, and is working to create the adult, the person that is to be.” Dr Montessori
During the data gathering phase of strategic planning, many families and teachers emphasised the importance of children building resiliency and self-efficacy (belief in one’s capacity to achieve goals).
In Montessori classrooms we provide children with descriptive feedback rather than evaluative praise so that they develop a realistic understanding of their own strengths and weaknesses and understand how they can improve in order to meet their goals. Through descriptive feedback we support children to develop a growth mindset (children have a desire to learn and appreciate that they need to apply effort to do so).
Evaluative praise is judgmental and tells the child nothing about what they have done well or how they can improve. It can also makes children rely on adults for approval. For example:
- That’s a great picture
- You’re an amazing soccer player
- You are very clever
On the other hand descriptive feedback is a powerful tool for student learning as it supports children to take responsibility for their development as independent learners. Rather than seeking adult approval, descriptive feedback teaches children how to evaluate their own work. For example,
- I can see that you have provided detailed evidence to support your claim.
- I noticed how you recognised that you read the word wrong and went back and sounded it out.
- It was great to see you passing the ball to your team members during soccer today.
While, it takes more thought to provide descriptive feedback rather than evaluative praise, it will help students to develop the abilities to self-assess and make independent decisions about their learning.
Heather and Noel