Resistance to praises

Questions or discussion about Kagan theory, research, or implementing Kagan in your classroom.
Posts: 1
Joined: Tue Mar 16, 2010 6:53 am

Resistance to praises

Post by mabboud » Tue Mar 16, 2010 7:30 am


I am a french teacher and I have been using Kagan structures in my 1st level french classes. One thing that hinders total structure completion is the resistance some students exhibit towards positive feedback. They complete the activity but refuse to praise their teammates by voicing their discontent as, "this is too childish, this is embarrassing, why do we have to praise, hugs....ewwwww, high fives are for sports only......etc....". These students are highly intelligent and dedicated to learning French but they are not willing to compromise when it comes to positive feedback. They would rather get it from me than give it to the people in their groups. Dr. Kagan states in his book that difficult student will come around and social skills will take over eventually.
As a graduate student, I have chosen to do a qualitative research paper on factors that contribute resistance to completing a cooperative learning structure by refusing to perform positive feedback at end of structure.
Dr. Kagan has many articles posted on Kagan online and I would love to use them for my research. Dr. M, my professor asks that all articles or journals be peer reviewed publications. Are Dr. Kagans articles online peer reviewed? I have also done a litterature review but other than finding hundreds of cooperative learning articles, I have not found one that addresses resistance to positive feedback. Dr. Kagan's structures are the only ones in cooperative learning that have positive feedback. Can you guide me in terms of articles done by other graduate students regarding Kagan structures and resistance to them by students?
I would appreciate any help and I thank you in advance

Posts: 6
Joined: Tue Mar 13, 2007 12:58 pm

Resistance to Praise

Post by Spencer » Thu Apr 01, 2010 5:59 pm


I am pleased you are using the Kagan Structures and that you are finding them helpful.

The articles we post on the web are not peer reviewed. We post theory and research, but we are not a peer reviewed journal.

There are many, many articles that I have written for peer reviewed journals and you can find references to them in my vita which is posted on our web page which you can download as a pdf. Just go to the Directing trainers link and click to download:

Although I don't know of research directly testing the effectiveness of praise, there is ample theoretical research supporting it. The world's leading memory researcher, James McGaw, in his book Memory and Emotion establishes the power of "Retrograde Memory Enhancement." In short, anything followed by praise is better remembered. Emotion is a signal to the brain: "I better remember this." Further, praise and support create a safer, more relaxed brain, and both cognition and perception are broadened when there is no threat. Yet further, praise boosts the self-esteem and positive affective tone not only of the one praised, but of the person giving the praise.

In addressing the issue in your class, I would engage the class in a discussion. "Some of you have resistance to praising the accomplishments of your classmates. I would like us to discuss that..." I would guide the discussion toward questions of whether they feel better when praised than when put down. And when they feel better, are they more relaxed and more open to learn. I would share some of the data on retrograde memory enhancement and how the brain is closer to a state of relaxed alertness, ready for learning, when praise is the norm.

Some educators have mistakenly concluded that praise always errodes intrinsic motivation. This is not true. It more often enhances motivation. Please see my article, In Praise of Praise, which you can download in the free article section of our web page: The article includes the following: In this article, I want to show that conclusion is an overgeneralization. The research on praise, rewards, and motivation, simply does not support the conclusion that we should avoid praising our students. The research also does not support the notion that we should keep our students from praising and complimenting each other's work. In fact, the research supports exactly the opposite conclusion: We should encourage praise and celebrations in our classrooms; they enhance motivation!

Hoping this helps,


Posts: 3
Joined: Thu May 20, 2010 1:51 am
Location: Cabot, Arkansas

Re: Resistance to praises

Post by sharkee99 » Sat May 22, 2010 6:06 am

Hi Maria,

First, let me start by saying congratulations for teaching French. What a great subject to teach! I understanding that the students are resistant to praise. It is outside of their norm. I know that in our school, our students frequently drive right by each other in the hallways without saying so much as a hello, but they are the first ones to text each other and explain what they had for lunch. Most of our students have not been taught how to praise and have not witnessed anyone modeling praise. I know that when I first attempted to teach my teachers Kagan structures and maintain the integrity of PIES, some of them also cringed with the thought of having to provide praise to their teammates. I can tell you that now, praise is a natural occurrence within my building. I believe because I began by modeling it with my teachers and reinforced praise in my daily interactions with both students and teachers, that they saw it as the norm and ensured that it was modeled with their students. It does take time and persistence. However, the teambuilding and class building activities will foster an atmosphere of trust and strong relationships that will naturally provide the praise. I agree with Dr. Kagan, talk to your students. Let them know that you understand it is uncomfortable for some of them. However, we all know that we respond better to positive praise than to no praise.

Keep your chin up and remember that what you are doing will be so beneficial for both you and your students. :)