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How to Motivate Students Using Rewards

Rahul Pandita
Does using rewards to motivate students actually help in achieving the desired results or does it hamper the growth of a student's natural curiosity and reasoning? Let's try and look for some answers to these questions.
The debate on using rewards to motivate students has been going on for a long time. There are educators who feel that using rewards sets a bad precedent and becomes ineffective over a period of time, while others feel that rewards motivate students to perform better as it is a human trait to be recognized for putting in an effort.
A lot of research has been going on behavior modification strategies, but there is still a lot which needs to be known before we can come to a consensus. We will take a look at both the facets of this debate to get an insight into whether using rewards with children actually contributes to better results.

Advantages of Rewarding Students

Students can be broadly categorized into two groups. One who have the natural curiosity and the desire to learn new things, and accept new challenges, and others who may not be intrinsically motivated to learning, and may need continuous rewards and recognition to put in their best effort.
Researchers are of the view that using rewards to motivate the learner can be really beneficial in achieving better results. This claim of researchers is backed by some studies that they carried out on a group of students, and it was found that in the pursuit of getting rewarded, some students put in an extra effort and performed exceptionally well.
Educators are also of the view that rewarding does not necessarily mean candies and stickers. Students can be rewarded for their achievements by giving them satisfaction after they have learned something new. You can praise a good student for his performance in front of the class and send a note of appreciation to his parents.

Motivating Students By Rewarding Them : A Few Things You Should Keep in Mind

✧ You have to keep in mind that rewards should never become a substitute for performing the tasks that a student is expected to do. Rewarding a student just because he has been attending school regularly of late can set up a bad example, and in a way can devalue other students who have been regular in the absence of a reward.
✧ Students should be rewarded for accomplishing something that requires some level of hard work and perseverance. This way the students feel that there is someone who is monitoring the efforts they are putting in and encourages them to put in the similar sort of effort in near future as well.
✧ Rewards should be used to pass across a constructive feedback on how a teacher values the determination and dedication of a student. Rewards should not be the sole point of making the student to put in the effort as over a period of time, if the reward does not hold any significance, it is quite possible that the students will cease to perform expectantly.

Drawbacks of Using Rewards to Motivate Students

Rewarding students is not as simple as it sounds because every student is a different personality with his own likes and dislikes. What if a student who generally performs well shies away from doing so because he is an introvert and does not like the prospect of standing in front of the whole class and getting noticed.
There can be students who would not like the idea of the reward system that you have put in place because the reward does not mean much to them. So, it is important that rewards are used carefully.
Most educators who oppose the use of rewards to motivate students are of the view that although, it causes an instantaneous improvement in the student, it essentially is a short-term remedy which fizzles out after some time.
They back their claim by quoting teachers who have seen drastic improvements in students' behavior when the concept of rewards is first initiated, but after a period of time, the students have gone back to square one.
Researchers feel that learning, as a process is more or less an individual choice, and presenting rewards for learning is like camouflaging the chronic problem to address the immediate one.
Opponents of reward system also believe that by rewarding students, teachers may be looking at an escape route which will make their jobs much easier and prevent them from indulging in the tedious task of scratching the surface to know the precise reason behind motiveless students.
They are of the view that there are some deep-rooted factors which determine how a student behaves in a classroom and it is the responsibility of the teacher to figure out these factors to ensure that the problem is dealt at the grass-root level.
While both the proponents and critics of reward system may have different approaches to motivate students, it is important that parents also seek ways to address lack of motivation levels in their children.
A student spends only six-seven hours in a classroom, so it becomes the responsibility of the parents to notice the behavior pattern of their children, the things that he is interested in, and things that provide a spur to his intelligence.
As we mentioned before, using rewards to motivate students is a pervasive topic, something which may work for one may not necessarily work for another. We hope that you get knowledgeable on this topic and understand the pros and cons of using rewards for motivating students.