Definition of Theory

Science Daily (September, 27, 2008) recorded that eight-year old children have a radically different learning strategy from twelve-year-olds and adults." Dr. Eveline Crone and her colleagues from the Leiden Brain & Cognition Lab discovered using MRI research that eight-year olds learn primarily from positive feedback, whereas negative feedback scarcely causes any alarm bells to ring." With this new information Marzano, Pickering, and Pollock's research on feedback is even more poignant. Marzano's work cites that we need to teach students about effort and then provide positive feedback on their progress toward learning goals.

Often we think of recognition as a reward, but research tells us that recognition can come in many forms.  Three generalizations extracted from the research are:

  1. Rewards do not necessarily have a negative effect on intrinsic motivation.
  2. Reward is most effective when it is contingent on the attainment of some standard of performance.
  3. Abstract symbolic recognition is more effective than tangible rewards.

Once students are taught that effort pays high dividends, recognition is an essential ingredient in monitoring their personal progress toward their goals. Dr. Crone concludes that "There is an area of the brain that responds strongly to positive feedback: the basal ganglia, just outside the cerebral cortex. The activity of this area of the brain does not change.  It remains active in all age groups: in adults, but also in children, both eight-year-olds and twelve-year-olds."  Students need to see the connection between effort and achievement by periodically keeping track of their effort and its relationship to achievement.  The more personal the feedback is on the goals of the student, the better results you will see when providing positive feedback on their effort.

Articles on Best Practice:

Standards-Based Grading Takes Hold in Iowa District: Matt Townsley excerpt Marshall Memo Jan 2014

Keys to Increasing Motivation, Usher & Kober excerpt Marshall Memo May 2012

Noncognitive Factors as Levers for Improving Student Achievement, University of Chicago Consortium on Chicago Research Paper, June 2012

Making Assessment Work for You: Fred Jones excerpt Marshall Memo May 2011

Feedback & Feed Forward: Fisher & Frey excerpt Marshall Memo May 2011

The Perils & Promises of Praise: Carol S. Dweck October 2007 ASCD