Debate: Prizes and Incentives for students; Good or Bad?

Discussion in 'Behavior Management Archives' started by shmoshus, May 8, 2008.

  1. shmoshus

    shmoshus Rookie

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    What is your opinion? Is it good and productive to motivate students with prizes or do you feel it's ultimately detrimental?
     
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  3. Bored of Ed

    Bored of Ed Enthusiast

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    It's a necessary evil :D

    Bear in mind that this depends what you're rewarding. Research shows that extrinsic rewards decrease the intrinsic motivation when the rewarded activity is itself intrinsically rewarding. So, while a reward system may be just what you need to motivate a student to do a dreary task, don't over-reward by offering prizes when they're not needed. This is also related to the difficulty of the task -- even intrinsically rewarding activities, the intrinsic reward might not be quite enough to outweigh the cost for a kid who has a lot of difficulty in that area.

    For example, reading is intrinsically rewarding. To motivate kids, give them interesting things to read. Your dyslexic student may find reading so exhausting that he doesn't feel the joy of accomplishment. He may need a sticker for every page he reads, and maybe even a candy for every six stickers...

    Also bear in mind that prizes should be accompanied by a social reinforcer: compliments, specific praise, etc. (As you give him the candy: "I'm so proud of how steadily you read today! You've really earned this.") This helps internalize the good feeling. You don't want your kid to be working for peanuts like a trained circus elephant!
     
  4. TamiJ

    TamiJ Virtuoso

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    I give rewards, like tickets for drawings. I give it out as a prize to who ever gets the highest quiz score every Friday, and for those who make tremendous progress and just really impress me.
     
  5. Canadian Gal

    Canadian Gal Habitué

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    I work with a girl who has been emotionally, physically and sexually abused. She is a high school student. She has NO intrinsic motivation. Giving her a piece of candy every time she hands in an assignment gets assignments handed in. Why WOULDN'T I give her that small reward. I always remind her WHY she gets the reward with the hope that, someday, she grows to the point where she has some intrinsic motivation. Until then, I'll run with what works.
     
  6. BeckyPie7

    BeckyPie7 Companion

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    I rarely give rewards to my students. I feel that they are in school to do a job and they know that. There have been times I've given prizes or incentive in the form of extra credit, but candy is reserved for holidays. Usually, I give the students candy before breaks but I give it to all of the students, not as a reward, but as a gesture. Maybe I should give more rewards. This is only my second year teaching and I'm still learning.
     
  7. Green_eyed_gal

    Green_eyed_gal Comrade

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    May 9, 2008

    I definitely believe you need to use incentives in the classroom.. I also believe there are right ways and wrong ways of using them. I plan on using Preferred Activity Time. As a new teacher, I have a lot of learning to do in this area.
     
  8. shmoshus

    shmoshus Rookie

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    does anyone know of any interactive website for prizes/incentives for students?
    i'd also like to here about some prize systems that other teachers out there use in the classroom? what format/technique do you use?
    what method do you use to get your prizes now?
    how much do you spend monthly/annually for prizes per class?
    what type of prizes are approproate for children of your grade ?
    what websites, bookstores etc. do you currently use for resources and career development?
    would love to hear some responses
     
  9. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    May 9, 2008

    We play lots of games in my foreign language class. The game is the reward for all their hard work plowing through translation passages. They get excited to play games and run around the room....What they don't know is that the games are just as educational as any other activity we do in class.
     
  10. anewstart101

    anewstart101 Cohort

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    I just finished student teacher. The first three weeks were aweful. I was in special education. I implemented a ticket system. I had to use a very high rate of reinforcement. At first, I sold them a piece of cereal at recess and lunch for each ticket they had. I sold pencils at the end of the day. In my short time there I was only able to hold off the reinforcer till the end of the day. I was selling pencils for 5 tickets each. My goal would be to in another week anounce the store would be every other day. In another week I could I could make it twice a week. Eventually, I would get the store to every friday for these students. It was a k-2 grade. The students were so use to be yelled at. When I had my final day the students were I hope we get to keep earning tickets! I spoke to the teacher and she is going to keep the ticket system I implemented.

    I'm assuming that if we did not get paid for our jobs the majority of us would not continue to teach. We need our incentives and so do kiddos.

    My placement was out of control before the ticket system. The students enjoy working for the tickets. They absolutely hate having to give a ticket up. Before the tickets in a class of 10 ---- 3 to 5 of the children were ending up in dentention or the office daily. Only once in my five weeks of running the class did I have to send two students to the office.

    Stephanie
     
  11. RainStorm

    RainStorm Phenom

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    I can't imagine why a student would want an "interactive prize."

    Now, if you are talking about spending time on the computer AS a prize/incentive, I do that.

    I did have a program called "I Love Science" that printed out a "prize" (it was the instructions to a science experiment) if you earned enough points. The kids loved printing it out, but after awhile I turned the feature off. It wasted so much ink (and we have a very hard time getting printer cartridges.) and the children loved getting the experiments BUT they never actually did any of them at home (which was the program's intent) so I just didn't see the point.
     
  12. smilingteacher

    smilingteacher Rookie

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    This sounds like an age/maturity thing. I have seen prizes work for younger kids but not so much for older students. As a sub I have seen a real difference for group points. It could a simple thing as a seat change or a homework pass. I don’t think I could do this with sophomores or up.

    I love the idea of points for movie Friday (academic of course) Class parties work well. I think we need rewards in the world. Small and noticeable can cost nothing and make a difference with kids.

    However, I do believe that rewards and punishments are separate. The discipline must not interfere with rewards. I would never take away a point from a child.

    my two cents!
     
  13. hescollin

    hescollin Fanatic

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    Book-It sponsored by Pizza Hut. Students earn free pizza by reading x number of books each month. Don't make the goal so high they give up reading. You enroll at the beginning of the school year.
     
  14. RainStorm

    RainStorm Phenom

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    May 10, 2008

    .
     
  15. MissFroggy

    MissFroggy Aficionado

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    May 11, 2008

    At our school, we ultimately feel it is detrimental and do not give any kinds of prizes or rewards, not even grades. They don't exist in any class, and my students work hard, are passionate about school and enjoy being there. I also don't really have any "rules" in my class, just procedures about how we go about the day. Surprisingly, it works! It works really well and the kids are well behaved and learn a lot! I really believe in natural consequences, but the opposite of this is natural rewards. In my class on Thursdays we have a work finishing/choice time. Kids who have all their work done have choice. I guess this is a reward, but the fact is, they all have some choice time daily, it's just more time on Thursdays. (45 minutes.) This works well. It happens to just be more of a scheduling thing than anything though, as my students are in the class at that time with the TA while I have a weekly staff meeting. It's the first time I have had this kind of system.

    If a child has some serious behavior issues, I have in the past had a reward system for just that child. They have a little card of some kind with 3-4 expectations and get a little smiley face when they have met those expectations. Then there may be some kind of reward. For one student, it was just staying after school for 10 minutes and teaching me songs on the piano- something he loved to do. For another, with his therapist, they devised a behavior modification plan that overlaps home and school so their parents do the rewarding. I have had maybe one kid every other year need this kind of intervention. Otherwise, the kids follow the behavior expectations.

    The only exception is at the end of the year there is a sort of award ceremony for kids who did service learning projects or volunteered. They get a little certificate. I don't know how that started, because it does go against how we generally do things.
     
  16. MissFroggy

    MissFroggy Aficionado

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    May 11, 2008

    I also thought I would add, I do give my kids little gifts and things, but as a gift. Not as a reward. I give them on right before winter holiday and break, and usually another at the end of the year. This year, when we finished our Shakespeare unit, I gave everyone a piece of Shakespeare gum (the wrappers all had quotes on them.) It was a GESTURE, like another post mentioned.

    I also tried this year giving Homework passes.... didn't work. No one has ever used one, and only 3 kids have even earned them. Ha ha.
     
  17. shmoshus

    shmoshus Rookie

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    What i mean, is a website that would partner with the teacher in her/his prize system. whatever method the teacher uses, ie. a ticket system, the kids could then go online with the teacher to redeem them with a plethora of prizes to redeem. the website would be a resource for the teacher and have other incentive based features available to help the teacher with behavior and classroom management.
     
  18. emmyblemmy

    emmyblemmy Companion

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    May 11, 2008

    I use them in a reasonable manner and not all of the time. However, I am in the middle of reading Teach Like Your Hair's on Fire by Rafe Esquith and he is definitely trying to change my ways. Anyone read it?
     
  19. mmswm

    mmswm Moderator

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    I think its important to precisely define "reward" and "incentive". We all work towards rewards and incentives. In the working world, we work toward's our paycheck, our bonuses, our good yearly evaluations. At home the incentive is our kids' success or a happy spouse or whatever else motivates you to keep your house clean and follow all of the rules of adulthood. I don't agree with rewards for silly things, but its human nature to need to have some sort of reward at the end of a task. Human's aren't born with the ability to see the intrinsic rewards in daily activities. That has to be learned. Part of our job as teachers is to teach that skill, and it starts with some sort of extrinsic reward. That can be something as simple as a "WOW, good job", to stickers, to something even bigger.

    In my classroom I'm generous with the praise. Most of my kids come from broken homes, homes where dad is in jail, mom is a drug addict and grandma is working 3 jobs to keep the grandkids fed and clothed (and not always successful), so they're behind the learning curve when it comes to intrinsic motivation. I also give them things to work towards. The students who turn in homework everyday and participate in class get to participate in "game day" every friday. Of course, the games are math games, and they're learning while they're playing, but the kids work hard to earn the right to play. I have some strong feelings when it comes to food, so I don't like using food, but I have used $5 gift certificates and trips to the movies and ice arena for A's on the midterm and final.
     
  20. RainStorm

    RainStorm Phenom

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    Now I see. I feel that the rewards need to be pretty immediate. I think I'll stick with my prize basket. I wouldnt' want to add yet another step in the process. That would just slow things down, and immediacy is very important when using rewards, especially with young children.
     
  21. shmoshus

    shmoshus Rookie

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    'RainStorm', we should call you 'BrainStorm' :) you're right, i agree, that is an important factor and i've thought about that alot, and of course the delivery time in between. I'm working on an idea to alleviate that issue, something the would act as a "holdover" till prize arrival, once again, can't get too detailed but i think it could add to the "excitment" and "anticipation" which would be part of the whole prize system concept
     
  22. hescollin

    hescollin Fanatic

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    www.fitnessfinders.net another reading incentive. Every time they finish a book they can pick a book charm to add to a key ring or to keychain attached to a bookmark. I get the supplies from the above source. (It was started for pe and then they added reading charms.) Everybody loves the charms.
    Book Adventure is a great site that students can go on and earn rewards for reading a book and taking an A.R. like quiz. Go to www.bookadventure.com

    I have never used these ideas, but copied and saved them. We have AR at our school.
     
  23. anewstart101

    anewstart101 Cohort

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    May 11, 2008

    I should say that I am a special education teacher. I individualized the ticket system for every student.

    Stephanie
     
  24. shmoshus

    shmoshus Rookie

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    May 11, 2008

    anewstart, could you elaborate on that. how do you use the ticket system? when and for what do you give a ticket? do you have a designated time to give prizes? what type of prizes are you giving and what age level are you teaching?
     

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