Students around the globe are facing a rather common problem. One is that of the instance by which they are given a lot of tasks in school while they still want to do so much in life. Considerably, it could be understood that such concern among students have become a global issue that educators are puzzled with at present. Students are expected to learn; to respond to this need, educators have been given regular trainings and program assistance to make sure their teaching patters are in par with the learning process that their students need. The results to these trainings have been compelling, nevertheless, the problem remains. Many students are still left unmotivated to complete their studies with flying colors. Relatively, a lot of them are still in the middle of simply completing what they are asked to do, without even realizing the benefit that these tasks have towards determining a better future for them. Students, given the different options they have, are almost always tempted to settle for the less, to settle for something more relaxing and less stressful in nature. Of course, if given the chance, no one would like to be pressured. Nevertheless, life in itself is never far from pressure. This is what students need to understand: it is their willingness to undergo such fact and accept such idea on pressure being an unavoidable matter in life that could help them get through with the tasks and situations they have to deal with in class. Notably, while it seemed impossible for the students to be simply motivated through the new technique of teaching, educators begin to formulate new and radical ways of determining how these learners could be further motivated. “Research and logic suggest that punishment and rewards are not really opposites but two sides of the same coin” (Guernsey, 2009). Is this claim relatively acceptable? This is what the discussion in this presentation is about.
The concept of incentive and punishment system implicated in schools [especially in lower years of learning] has inspired several educators to see how the approach would impact the learning behavior of the students. The idea suggests that when a student does something good, or studies well, then he is given a reward; an incentive that might come in form of money and/or other material prizes. On the other hand, if a student does something unwanted, such as not making his homework or not completing his classroom tasks in time, he is going to receive specifically defined punishments. The process suggests a cause-and-effect pattern that aims to help the students identify the good and bad behavior in relation to classroom learning. In this case, teachers are expected to intensify the way they deal with their students, to make sure that the rules of either punishment or reward are followed accordingly in class. “Critics of these efforts say that children should be inspired to learn for knowledge’s sake, not to earn money, and question whether prizes will ultimately lift achievement” (Medina, 2008). The question is, would such approach actually work flawlessly? Would the students be able to understand the overall function of the system and be able to benefit from it as expected? The discussion presented in this research and argument paper shall provide particular views that would determine whether or not the incentive-approach dedicated to the students actually work in relation to practical application.
Students need to learn to be able to be productive. This is a known fact that even students know themselves. However, not every single individual is properly motivated towards a common goal of learning. There are individuals who are strongly convinced that they are in need of learning from an institutional setup following a well constructed and structured system of teaching. These learners are willing to follow guidelines and are convinced that directed options of learning would be much beneficial for them as they embrace the concept of personal development. With rewards, it has been found out among students that “carrots turn out to be more effective than sticks at helping children to become caring and responsible people or lifelong self-directed learners“(Kohn, 1994).
However, there are also some students who feel that they want to learn in a different pattern. They want to embrace the freedom that they have as they learn things. Sometimes, students of this type who are confounded in a classroom end up to be simply following the flow of the class, completing what they need to complete and not really benefiting from the activities. At some point, they could be considered gifted, they have special talents that simply do not fit into the curriculum. However, because they know they have to finish basic education before they could actually engage themselves in something they really want, they are subjected to simply ‘going through the flow’ of classroom setups and become accustomed to the concept of learning within the four walls of the classroom with their interest laid down elsewhere outside of the room. As a result to their behavior, these students often undergo punishments that usually pull them off their game and motivation to finish school, thus making a distinct impact on how they develop their talents. To this, Kohn (1994) adds:“as with punishments, the offer of rewards can elicit temporary compliance in many cases”.
On the other hand, there are also those who simply go to school because they have to. Unlike free floaters in class, they are usually set even below the average learners in the class. They are unmotivated and they see learning to be a daunting task they simply need to complete. Seeing the worth of learning at present is not a common concept that these learners recognize. This is the reason why it is rather important for teachers to spot students under this condition as they usually become less productive in class thus having the tendency to repeat the same grade or same level of learning over and over again. Somehow, innovating the teaching styles have become a common yet slowly successful pattern of development that teachers are taking into account even from the past years of existing studies. Relatively, this is the reason why incentives provision is being developed today to possible create a more effective manner of motivating students to study well, no matter what type of learner they may be. Incentives include money, prizes, direct grade added into their scores that are not considered as the regular pattern of grading and some other rewards that are expected to boost the morale of the students while also assisting them in coming up with a goal that will help them see through the concept of learning in a more beneficial and more urgent approach. According to Kohn’s (1994) study, “the ways in which rewards are used as well as values that are considered important differ among and within cultures”.
Pros and Cons of Rewarded Learning
Forced learning, as it is called by psychologists, make up a more pressured and desperate learner. It could not be denied that somehow, the students who are forced to learn develop a certain perception about education that is less enjoyable to take note of. Would this be the same result taken off from giving students the incentives or rewards for learning? Notably, among institutions that are already implicating such measure of student motivation, it has been realized that students do become more attentive at the first introduction of such approach. Given the chance to earn more [monetary incentives] through keeping their grades up, achievers in class become even more motivated to work through their studies. When a survey was conducted, “some of the students mentioned how excited they were of the rewards which including saving up for video games, saving up for college, and others specifically aiming for rather simple pleasures like buying spaghetti” (Guernsey, 2009)). Under this concept though, some students are bound to be left behind. The system failed to address the fact that the students who are not receiving rewards have two options of reactions; one is that of the manner by which they are to take on the challenge into the next level and push themselves further into gaining more from the learning presentations they are provided with. However, for others, it is best to settle for less than to go on striving for something they know would be impossible to reach. Disappointments among the non-achievers bring them even lower than the average performance they are presenting in class.
The learners are then divided between the constant achievers and the constant receivers of punishment. The supposed motivation for the slow-learners have become the very reason for them to embrace a much less-motivated attitude towards learning, simply because they have already given up on their goal of attaining or receiving incentive from class while they are still half-way through the school year. Given this picture, educators go back to the fact that it is the teaching process that needs to be innovated every now and then to fit with the changing attitude of the students. Monetary or other forms of incentives given to students have caused the development of psychological issues among under-achievers and a sense of misalignment on how students envision the real value that education has in store for them. “Many educators are acutely aware that punishment and threats are counterproductive, making children suffer in order to alter their future behavior can often elicit temporary compliance; hence ineffective to help children” (Kohn, 1994).
The recognition of the fact that students come from all sorts of backgrounds and therefore have different levels of being motivated to study and learn well from class is a more valid basis of solution that shall respond to the ideal process of engaging students into better patterns of learning. “Rewards are no more helpful at enhancing achievement than they are at fostering good values. At least two dozen studies have shown that people expecting to receive a reward for completing at task, simply do not perform as well as those who expect nothing” (Kohn, 1994). Relatively, this has been proven through the years of trial and error of placing incentives and rewards as well as punishments in the line of choices on how to motivate students further. Their desire to learn is what matters most; through exploring such desire, educators would benefit well from finding a way to address their interests and make use of such advantage to make sure that they perform well in class not for anything or anyone else, but for their own personal development.
Guernsey, L. (2009). Rewards for Students under a Microscope. The New York Times .
Medina, J. (2008). Next question: Can students be paid to learn? The New York Times.
Kohn, A. (1994). The Risks of Rewards. Educational Resources Information Center.