Should Students Be Rewarded For Learning

2777 words - 11 pages

Should students’ be rewarded for learning?Woolfolk & Margetts (2007) describe a reward as “An attractive object or event supplied as a consequence of a behaviour” (p.377). We begin to get rewards for learning at a very early age, our mothers’ or fathers’ approval when we say our first words will often result in verbal praise, a form of reward (Hidi & Harackiewicz, 2000). Rewards are part of everyday life. We receive rewards for effort in a variety of ways; a smile returned from a stranger or flowers from a loved one but there is strong debate over wether rewards should be given for learning.Woolfolk and Margetts (2007) show two opposing views of the effects of rewards for learning, providing an interesting debate in their point/counterpoint (p.248) on the use of rewards in the classroom referring the reader to several debates publicly voiced in the respected journals, Review of Educational Research, Phi Delta Kappan and Psychological Bulletin. On one hand, Kohn (1993) describes the behaviourist approach to rewards as a technique for controlling people, “Do this and you will get that.” and believes rewards are ineffective because once the reward stops so too does the behaviour. It is argued that rewards are used as a controlling technique, doing things to children rather than working with them to constructively develop a positive attitude (Deci, Koestner & Ryan, 1999; Kohn, 1993). By offering students incentives i.e. external rewards, for doing tasks that they already enjoy or are motivated to do, their willingness or motivation to perform that task may actually decrease (Deci, Koestner, & Ryan, 1999). On the other hand Chance (1993) argues that when teachers reinforce at a high rate students’ get more enjoyment from their learning, while Cameron and Pierce (1994) believe that performance contingent rewards, delivered unexpectedly, do not harm intrinsic motivation for tasks. Chance (1993) as well as Cameron and Pierce (1994) enthusiastically support the use of rewards to control behaviour or support learning.There are many different types of rewards, tangible rewards including task noncontingent (rewards not requiring working on a task), engagement contingent (rewards that require working on a task), completion contingent (required to finish the task to get reward), performance contingent (rewards requiring a determined level of quality) and verbal rewards (positive feedback) (Deci, Koestner and Ryan, 2001: Akin-Little, Eckert, Lovett and Little, 2004). Rewards may have two outcomes, one way rewards can be perceived is that they give a feeling that you’ve done the right thing, independently using your skills and hard work and that improves your intrinsic motivation. The other way some people may see rewards is they are given to gain control over the recipient, and this often results in reducing the recipient’s intrinsic motivation (Deci, Koestner and Ryan, 2001).Rewards can...

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