The Power of Praise for a Growth Mindset

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Mental HealthStudent Success
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Connie Belden is a Professor of Accounting and Business Administration at Butler Community College


One way to increase student success and build better workplace relationships is through the power of praise. But how can you effectively praise those around you?

At its core, praise is encouraging, appreciating and developing a growth mindset in yourself and others. It ranges from telling a student or peer “good job” to thanking someone for their time. But there is a right way to praise students and peers that encourages a growth mindset. In this post, I will examine:

  1. Reasons why you should praise your students and colleagues
  2. How praise relates to student learning and workplace relationships
  3. Techniques to help you praise effectively with a growth mindset focus
  4. How your attitude affects praise

Why Praise Matters

You’ve likely heard the old proverb, “Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.” By praising our students and peers, we proverbially teach them to fish by encouraging them to continue learning and growing. This is an excellent way to encourage students to become lifelong learners.

Praising your students and peers improves relationships with these individuals, whether in an educational setting or in the workplace. Too often, students and colleagues do not receive any type of praise on a daily basis. However, praise is a free form of encouragement that can help motivate those around us to learn and grow and should be practiced every day.

Praising with a Growth Mindset in Mind

The idea of a growth mindset versus a fixed mindset was studied by Stanford psychologist Dr. Carol S. Dweck. By her definition, people with a fixed mindset feel that they have a limited ability to learn or grow. However, those with a growth mindset feel that they can grow their intelligence over time through hard work, trial and error.

Effective praise is an excellent way to cultivate a growth mindset in others. Praising an individual for both their talent and effort positively reinforces their behavior. And according to the philosophy of the growth mindset, positivity breeds success. When we praise others with a growth mindset in mind, it’s important to be specific, genuine and surprising. A sincere thank you note or an email saying “good effort” are some excellent ways to praise and encourage your students and peers.

Looking for the Good

There is always going to be good and bad in the workplace, the classroom or anywhere you might find yourself. But it’s your job to look for the good in bad situations. Not only will this help you keep a positive attitude, but you’ll be able to better praise and encourage others towards the right mindset.


Catch more from Connie on the Power of Praise in her Empowered Educator session recording.

Curious about the role student confidence plays in learning? Download our ebook to hear it from students.