EVALUATING INCENTIVE PROGRAMS
Many educational researchers have studied the effects of reward systems in schools.
Susan Black, a research consultant and professor at the University of Maine in Orono, recently culled some of the findings from this research for a school district in New York.
In the March issue of American School Board Journal, she offers highlights from her study of research findings on incentive programs:
* Students who do an activity, such as reading library books, without a reward believe the activity is worth doing; students who receive a reward for doing an activity believe it must not be worth doing without the reward.
* Students whose behavior changes as a result of token rewards do not continue the behavior change once the rewards are removed.
* A system of random rewards is ineffective.
* In some situations, rewards can actually inhibit learning. Long-range consequences include: a decrease in student interest, persistence, involvement, and motivation.
* Once token rewards are introduced, programs become more complicated to administer. Teachers may spend their time monitoring or running programs rather than teaching lessons.
* What adults value as rewards might not be what students value.