ERIC Number: ED376990
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 1994-Dec
The Risks of Rewards. ERIC Digest.
Among teachers and parents who avoid punishing children, many turn instead to the use of rewards. However, as with punishment, the offer of rewards can elicit temporary compliance but is no more effective at helping children become responsible people or self-directed learners. Extrinsic motivators, such as rewards, do not alter commitments that underlie behavior. Nor are rewards helpful at enhancing achievement. At least two dozen studies have shown that people expecting a reward for completing a task do not perform as well as those who expect nothing. This effect is robust across age, gender, and type of task. Other studies have documented the phenomenon that rewards cause people to lose interest in whatever they were rewarded for doing. Still other studies have shown that people who are offered rewards for performing tasks will generally choose the easiest task to perform. In the absence of rewards, by contrast, children are inclined to pick tasks that are just beyond their current level of ability. To deal with the implications of these data, classroom management practices that rely on rewards ought to be reconsidered. Assessment practices should be designed so that children experience success and failure not as reward and punishment, but as information. When children receive feedback in the form of information, they are helped to develop their own criteria for successful learning instead of encouraged to be dependent on securing someone else's approval, and they experience unconditional support instead of a positive response that is conditional on meeting someone else's demands. Contains 12 references. (BC)
Publication Type: Information Analyses; ERIC Publications; ERIC Digests in Full Text
Education Level: N/A
Sponsor: Office of Educational Research and Improvement (ED), Washington, DC.
Authoring Institution: ERIC Clearinghouse on Elementary and Early Childhood Education, Urbana, IL.