Monday, January 16, 2012

Reward and Punishment, Good Idea or Bad?

A common, yet misconstrued belief among some teachers and parents is that the act of rewarding or punishing a student based on educational performance is a key motivational tool inside and outside the classroom. However, studies show that students who are lured into doing something for a reward are less likely to do it again if no reward is offered. Moreover, such research also proves that punishment can often evoke a feeling of defiance and anger in children.  The once popular conception of reward and punishment is being overshadowed by the proof that such actions could produce an inverse, or opposite, effect.

In addition, some psychologists believe that the most effective type of reward is giving praise. Praise and positive reinforcement that is directed towards a specific assignment or task assists the student in evaluating themselves. Receiving praise and positive feedback emphasizes that success is directly related to the amount of effort the student puts into their work.  Praise is a tool that is helpful for the student to assess themselves and help them set educational goals.

Ultimately, students will become more independent learners if their motivation is not reliant on punishment and rewards, but rather on the praise that results from a job well done. This concept will reveal to students that the amount of effort they put into their work and educational success are directly related.

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