Students need to know what they must do to be successful, so they can repeat similar behavior or learn from the comments. When students hear feedback about the strategies used, the improvement that resulted, or how they engaged, they frequently become motivated to learn. Motivation can increase active engagement in learning which is exactly what we want.

Observations of students who receive ‘process praise’ show an increased interest toward learning and efforts to repeat the performance recognized. While there should be caution given to global praise statements, it is suggested that specific praise or encouragement about processes be shared with the intent to benefit the students and increase student engagement. You must be sure to communicate the criteria along with the praise to help students understand the reasons they receive process praise.

The Praising the Process strategy can be used to provide feedback that encourages the appropriate application of each of the 9 Traits of Critical Thinking™. The 9 traits can be taught to foster high-quality, disciplined thinking. Students can learn to become stronger thinkers and problem solvers as they use the traits to guide their thoughts, actions, and decisions.

As students are praised for the processes they use in exhibiting the traits, students can continually grow and deepen their understanding of the traits. The following examples benefit students if teachers will follow this pattern and foster the processes students used as they display one or more of the 9 traits.


This is a photo of a teacher assisting a student at his desk.



Even though the task was difficult and took a lot of time, you were successful at solving that math problem because you tried different strategies. You achieved success by remaining at your workstation, keeping your focus on the task and not giving up, and by using different solution strategies.


You described how you got out the plan for problem solving before you began and how you looked at each step in the plan to monitor yourself as you worked. You also shared that you felt you have improved the way you complete tasks now because you assess yourself during your work and afterwards. I totally agree with your process of having a plan and thinking about your actions before, during, and after a task. These steps can sure make you a productive learner and problem solver!


You showed flexibility in your thinking today. You were willing to look at the situation another way. Your consideration of a different option that your classmate offered to solve the problem was awesome. That really worked!


Your paragraph was well written. You began with a topic sentence that was clearly stated, then provided examples that supported your opening statement.


I am so pleased that you originally learned that problem-solving strategy in science class and you are now using it in our math class to solve a new challenge. You really know how to make connections!


Your comments to your group were right on target! I heard you say ‘our idea choice might not work but let’s give it a try. We might be wrong, but it will be okay.’ Encouraging your group to work together and move forward to test the idea they all wanted was a good idea.


Your curiosity really showed as you explored the topic about Digital Tools. I could tell you are really interested by the questions you asked. You planned your questions to uncover information not easily found. Your choice of questions really helped you move deeper into the topic. Way to plan and ask quality questions!


Your investigation was well thought out. You carefully studied the evidence, then you gave reasons to support your statements.


I like how you approached your task. You brainstormed several ideas before you selected one to construct a model. Then you asked your peers for input and tested the idea chosen to make sure it would work.

It is recommended that teachers consider the praise examples given and embed similar feedback into daily instruction. When the appropriate use of a thinking trait is observed, you should share the specific observed evidence with the student. You will be amazed at the future efforts students make when constructive feedback is communicated.

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