PSYC384 Forum: Question No.1 (Rewards)

We talked a lot about the ills of rewards, when used in conjunction with behavior management in the classroom. Some say that rewards can be effective tools for correcting inappropriate behavior. Some say that rewards could actually become a punishment in the long run (encouraging students to do something for the sake of rewards and not because they are internally motivated to do so). Some others say that rewards, when used sparingly and thoughtfully, can be an effective tool for behavior management.

What is your view in this matter? Why do you say so? Your answer must be substantiated with a real-life example (preferably classroom example).

15 thoughts on “PSYC384 Forum: Question No.1 (Rewards)”

  1. From my point of view, it is fine to use reward as behavior management tool. However, different people have different opinion about reward in the classroom. As i grow up, i can say that i seldom get any reward in the classroom when i achieve something. Although i did not get any reward from teachers at school, i did get reward from home. My parents especially my father give reward to me in the form of material and if not material he give me praises for doing well. When he did this, i feel more motivated and appreciated. As times goes by, intrinsically i feel it is worth to achieve something because as the end result all the things that i have achieved are for my own good. Even though sometimes i face failure, i take that failure as a challenge to do batter in the future. This happens not because of the reward that i have achieved but because the feeling of being appreciated and the realization that i do something for my self.

  2. Honestly, I’m still formulating my view on the matter, but I think I’m learning towards not using reward/punishment strategies because it is degrading and assuming very little of children/students.

    When it comes to using rewards like tokens, candy, stickers, etc… I think it’s especially demeaning because children are then being trained like animals. And since much of the behavioural theory centres on animalistic behaviours, perhaps it boils down to how one views children in general.

    However, when it comes to internal reward systems, ie. teaching children why to do something rather than to just do something for the “pay”, perhaps the line is harder to draw.
    For example, it is easy for me to say that feeding rewards like stickers and candy to children to motivate them is demeaning. However, I somewhat believe that teaching them internal motivation (which really is internally rewarding) can be beneficial in helping children to learn critical thinking skills as well as take on responsibility from a young age – and we all know it is important for children to learn responsibility!

    For example: Rather than dangling a rewards in front of students to come to class on time everyday, teach them about the consequences tardiness has, and why it is important that every member of the class comes on time and regularly (accountability to others).

  3. Acknowledges and appreciations are what all the human beings long for from others: parents, teachers, friends, colleagues, partners or even strangers. These are the two significant and effective factors which encourage people to be intrinsically motivated. What gives us the meaning of life is appreciation. If there is no one to recognize and be grateful for our hard work, then there is no point of carrying on with any task. Parents, teachers and other guidance should be aware of this fact as they deal and nurture young children. Rewards and punishments do not help and they indeed spoil the children. They distract children and mislead them to robotic life-styles. If the children do things for the sake of getting rewards, they would never come to realize the actual meaning of what they are doing and why they are doing those things. On the contrary, if children are punished for not doing things or for doing things wrong, whether they are motivated or not, they will just finish the task just for the sake of avoiding punishment and they will not learn anything. Reward and punishment indeed make learning demeaning. For the children to be intrinsically motivated to do things, all they need is appreciation. If their parents, teachers and peers acknowledge what they are doing, they’ll be happy and satisfied carrying out those tasks. When children are encouraged for little things to big projects they do, their potentials will boost up to the fullest and they will definitely be intrinsically motivated. They’ll feel good about themselves as they accomplish doing things which are meaningful to them along with acknowledgement and appreciation from others.

    For example: I remember one of my elementary school teachers who never rewarded or punished any of us in doing anything. All she did was “appreciating” us and our hard work. She would say “Oh, you have finished your work. You’ve done it so well. I’m so proud of u. I’m happy to see all of you working hard. Keep up your good work.” She said it in a way of acknowledging rather than praising which made us reflect the true meaning of why we had to do all those work. She actually gave us the meaning of our work simply by reminding us of what we were doing and why we were doing. She always gave us a smile of acknowledgement as she watched us happily and lively carrying out the tasks. We felt that we were learning not because we want to impressed anyone, to crave for any reward or to avoid any punishment, but to enforce and make use of our fullest potentials and be happy with what we achieve out of it as we were also happy while carrying out those tasks.

  4. Students who expect rewards are smart. But, students who study & learn from what the teachers have to say, are rich & powerful. But, for those few who gooff off in class & pretend that learing is boring, they people who server you fast food.. So, as teachers what can we do? Tell the facts be cool stay in school….. I am not sure if i answered the question right but thats what i think….

  5. I’m not sure if the reward system is good or bad. depending on too much rewarding may not be good, because child will focus on only the reward. however, I have been motivated with rewarding systems so much. Everytime my friends are rewarded in front of me, I felt so jealous. I also wanted what my friends got in their hand. So I have tried hard to be rewarded. I studied well, I kept my room very tidy, I have never skipped or late to the class. I worked hard to be rewarded, to get prizes. Soon, I became a good student of the school and often rewarded. of course I have done it for the rewarding. but because of the rewarding now I can feel confident, I can be proud of my self. My self-esteem used to be low, I believed my self could not do anything. and today, I like giving internal reward my self. I don’t like showing my GPA, or test result to people, but I enjoy it by my self. because of the rewarding, I obtained many abilities, I know how I can enjoy things, which are difficult and tough. I like feeling self-satisfaction, I can do a lot of things just for it. the prompt of this was a rewarding systems in the school. I just cannot say rewardings are bad. even though children only works for the prizes, let them work hard, let them behave well. after certain amount of time it will be the charactoristic of the child. again I just cannot say rewardings are bad, this is my life experience. I understand why some people say rewarding are not good, but in order to believe that theory I need stronger persuasion which can overcome my past experiences.

  6. Dear friends, let us think carefully and we will see reward and punishment exist in every corner of the world. Human can’t exist without reward and punishment. All of human beings are living with purpose and motivation. We do everything according to reach our purpose and we need motivation in order to reach our purpose. Our purpose is a reward and sometime motivation itself can be reward for us.
    I want to give you one example that our friend Naw Thein says “Acknowledges and appreciations are what all the human beings long for from others: parents, teachers, friends, colleagues, partners or even strangers. These are the two significant and effective factors which encourage people to be intrinsically motivated. What gives us the meaning of life is appreciation. If there is no one to recognize and be grateful for our hard work, then there is no point of carrying on with any task. Parents, teachers and other guidance should be aware of this fact as they deal and nurture young children.”
    Here we can see that acknowledge and appreciations are rewards for human being. Don’t forget that we are not animals. We are not always satisfy with stickers and candy as a reward. Sometime we want acknowledge and appreciation rather than stickers and candy as a reward.
    One time my mom gave me money (100baht) when I got good grade from my final exam. I was really happy because at that time 100baht was a lot to me. After that I was trying hard to receive another 100baht again. Finally I got a good grade again and informed my mom. My mom was really happy with tears to know that. She told me that “you are very good!” This time she told me that she really wanted to buy something for me but she had no money. I understood my mom situation and told her that “don’t worry mom. I already receive something from you. You give me something more worthy than money or things. It is your smiling and your happiness.” I was a really precious reward and motivation that help me to try hard for my coming years.
    Human are not like the other animals. Human knows how to think. I definitely believe that appropriate rewards are required for every human being at least to start the human engine.

  7. i have the same situation as Asher so no need to talk more of it!. Additionally, i felt so good about my self whenever i got reward (praise)& i felt like i was capable of doing something as others. Reward increases my self-image and motiviation as well. I believe that some rewards help increase our motivation in some ways.

  8. To me, the reward system was always seen as good. However, some of the teachers were just lazy to reward the students, especially when they did excellently either academically or in their attitudes in general. I did poorly in most subjects in primary school and I always get bullied too. I never see the point of doing well in a subject and the teacher were just simply don’t care about me been doing good academically or my behavior in general or not. However, there was one teacher who was teaching Math, just treat me differently. In order to get me interested in the subject, she said that she will reward me if I finish the exercises…and as time passed by with the continuous reward that I received from her I was able to mastered the subject and it was the only subject that I did very well! Well I don’t mean that we can only do things when we will be rewarded…in a sense it is true, because most of the things that we do, whether we are motivated intrinsically or extrinsically, we will still get the reward, just that they are in a different form. If we are motivated intrinsically, the reward we get is most likely the satisfaction from doing things and extrinsically is either some kind of token or a meal in return… well reward does works..

  9. According to me, ‘rewarding’ can be accepted in changing some behavior. For example, I don’t like to do homework but it has to be submitted so i try to finish it. After I submit it and it was submitted on time, imagine, if the teacher didn’t say anything or reward any praise, how will I feel (maybe not feel anything but it will affect my doing the assignment for the next time). It doesn’t mean that I want to get praise so i submit my assignment but ‘requirement’, therefore, if the teacher say something good about it and then i will feel good and i will be motivated to do and submit my assignment on time. ^_^

  10. Every work has its own beauty, we just look at that work only one direction. Reward has advantages and disadvantages. Most of us look at only the advantage of it because we look at it only the positive side. For those who has intrinsic motivation rewards seem just not very special because they do what they have to do. Reward seem do a little different. However, those who have behavior problem when they know they will get some rewards if they do this or that. Therefore they do any thing exspecting for reward. Whenever there is no reward they seem to less involve or non. If we look at biblical perspective, most people believe in God and do good because they expect to live in heaven and some expect to have good life so what happen if later they find out that there no heaven? Also some when suffer happen turn to blame God because they do not get what they expect to get. Heaven or good life can be the reward for those who believe in God and do good. To sum up reward is like the two blade sword; it can be good and bad if we don’t use it appropriately.

  11. Well … I think that internal motivation is more important than external motivation. And I believe that some rewards can motivate the student internally … how? I’ll explain my point.
    First of all, most of the teachers use praise as a reward. And I think that praise (if used honestly!) is an appreciation of the students’ achievement. And this appreciation will make them feel as if they’ve done something important or worthy. This will finally motivate them to do more & achieve more goals.
    Second, if you really think about it … what is a golden star or a smiley face worth??? Do you think that students study and aim for high grades just for that tiny sticker?
    I don’t think so!
    I think that kids are much smarter than what we think. They’re not actually doing well in their studies for that golden star; what they’re really looking for is 2 things: impressing the teacher, and the students’ admiration. And when they get these 2 things, they feel like they’ve achieved something. And they might also feel that it’s important for them to keep doing well, so that they can be a good example for others.
    This feeling of achievement and the responsibility for themselves and others is an internal motivation. It’s not about a golden star alone; it’s about achieving a goal!
    Finally, I just want to say that this is the way I look at rewards. And this is what I expect from a teacher … appreciation. And if the teacher is showing me that with a golden star, then what’s the big deal?!
    My opinion might be wrong, and maybe not all students think that way. But I just wanted to look at it from a different point of view!

  12. I would suggest that every teacher uses rewards strategy in the classroom because it is worth doing it – in an effective way. Students will feel good toward themselves if the teacher appreciates their work. To me, intrinsic reward is better than extrinsic reward because it will build self-efficacy in the students. Anyhow, teacher shoud give both intrinsic and extrinsic rewards inorder to motivate students in learning process and lead them to self-appreciation…(what is the right word for it?…Hope you can understand)
    Nothing is absolute in this world. So as a future teacher, we should keep in mind that giving moderate rewards to the students is a wise thing to do.

  13. Like it or not “giving reward” is part of daily life, and there is no such thing as “perfect reward” under the sun. For me, giving or not giving, intrinsic or extrinsic are not the main issue here; sooner or later you or we WILL giving out rewards or receiving rewards. There are five significant points which we need to recognize and consider thoroughly in giving out rewards: First, why are you giving the reward? Second, what sort of reward? Third, when and where? Fourth, who’s receiving? And last but not least, fifth, how you going to give? A valuable tip to keep and practice is that the more you know about the “receiver” the better rewards that you may give or they may receive, or in other words, the better reward giver you going to be and the better “behave” the receiver going to be. It’s like nurturing a good relationship that may resulted with good “fruits.” A simple yet effective explanation of why are the rewards given or may not be given would be very helpful for clearer understanding for both students and teachers. We have to recognize that the act of giving reward is not or should not be the main element in behavior management in the classroom, it is just one part of the big picture. When there is a receiver there is always a giver or “rewarder”, and as a giver you should know yourself. To know yourself better is to know your Creator, which is a Great Giver. Jesus gave his everything, his life. God is like our parent who knows the best for His children. Indeed, being a parent helped a lot in understanding such matter. Well, to be a “good rewarder” will not happen over night but it is simply a process, and this will goes on for a life time. The more you give “good reward” the more blessed or rewarded you going to be. Hope, wish, or pray the best for your students at all times, and in turn hopefully they will do the same to others.

  14. For me, I believe rewards are not bad even in the long run. It only depends on the outlook of how the teacher gives rewards. Was the teacher sincere? Did the student feel it?

    First I believe teachers must have a good heart, good intention and genuine interest in children. Rewards when given out of genuine acknowledgement and appreciation of the good job and deeds done will bring great joy to the receiver and the giver as well. Block by block a wall of trust students have been longing to lean on is being built while the encouragement and motivation that comes along with the reward help pushes arising dreamers to a higher level of height.

    I think teachers must aim at being more like a good parent rather than a good manipulator of situations. We don’t want to make perfect world out of mere manipulation. Love, freedom, and joy, where did they all go? Good parents for me cares, therefore do things that they believes would be best for their kid. They want to see their child happy. They do not give reward out of manipulative intentions (whether it for destructive or peace making purposes). That is too disgusting. Kids are not robots. They’ve got mind of their own. Good parents do it all out of love and out of the intention to see their kids grow. In any parents reward must come along love, care, appreciation and acknowledgement that every child would just feel. That’s what I guess is the purpose of any reward. Whether it be in verbal form, in a box or in a form of touch. Whether it be called internal or external motivation, it must all boil down to something a child can feel, realize, learn and upgrade themselves from then onwards.
    I think the issue of whether the internal/external motivation is better should be left for statistical researchers to do their job of figuring out which one do we use more that end us up being such a good teacher.

    Tips for future teachers: I believe real wisdom stems out of real love; real love is not blind, it consists of logical, rational thinking and a lot of care. If maybe, maybe if we can have real love… maybe we will know what kind of reward we should be using for the moment?!

    Let’s get real wisdom! Good luck. Starting by training our heart and mind and it may eventually spring out in our doings. ^_^

    Do your own maths:
    External motivation + no love = ( no growth, spoiled kid?)
    External motivation + manipulation = robotic kids!
    Internal motivation + no love = ( create distrust?)
    Internal motivation + manipulation = robots!

    Flee!
    Wanna be plainly human, creative and pure. Wanna wake up and dream…. to soar upon places no one has quite ever been.

    Let me be human, I don’t want to be programmed. Please!!

  15. In my primary, there were awards given to children who are quiet. I always get that award because I am quite quiet and it wasn’t all that hard for me to shut up for a little more while to get the award. Now that Ive grown, thinking about it.. I think that all those teachers who gave out “most quiet student award” had one purpose in mind>> which is to have a more quiet and more manageable class. Back then, I thought the act of just being quiet was good. I thought that just by simply being a quiet person I was being a good student. I didnt know any other reason besides I want to be a good student and plus I might as well get the award. From Grade 1 onwards, I was motivated to be a quiet student. Should I call it teachers manipulation? Was I meant to be a very quiet student? What’s the real me supposed to be like? Well I’ll never know..

    So I agree with Mr. Robotic World.
    Teachers should free students from all their manipulative intentions and allow student to grow. Teachers are suppose to be a firm wall that students can trust and lean on. Teacher must know student strengths and appreciate them and acknowledges them with sincerity.

    I believe external and internal motivation should only be use on occasions when teacher’s heart is really filled with sincerity.

    Therefore rewards for me is all good when done out of the heart. ^_^

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