The one fundamental when it comes to motivation Pt3

17 December 2010


In the last post we looked at the stick approach to student motivation and engagement.  Today we will look at the carrot approach.

Some people will tell you that it is far better to set up an encouraging environment.  It is better to praise the student.  Every teacher uses a reward system.  This could be in the form of a sticker chart, video lesson, outside play etc

These work well but the research has shown that if you teach a student to respond to rewards their intrinsic motivation decreases over time because you have taught them to be interested in the reward not the learning task.  A classic example of this is when you reward a student for reading 4 books, the student will read the 4 books but not pick up the 5th when there is no reward for doing so.

When considering rewarding a student it is best to give rewards for effort not intelligence

When considering rewarding a student it is best to give rewards for effort not intelligence, and to give rewards when they are not expected, this way you don’t rob the student of the recognition they deserve but you don’t teach them to be reward focussed rather than learning focussed.

I have also found that when rewarding a student – the reward goes a lot further if you involve the parents.  You might like to consider how you can creatively do this.

Some ideas are:

  • Have a morning tea
  • Video the student receiving the reward in class and post it on a class blog or YouTube channel
  • Send a letter home explaining what the child has done that is worthy of a reward
  • Pick one parent a week to tell them something great about their student (why do the parents only get phone calls telling them what’s wrong – there isn’t a parent alive who wouldn’t like a positive phone call from a teacher!)

So what works best in the classroom – threats or rewards? We will look at this in the next post.

What is your number 1 reward strategy? Let us know in the comment section below!

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