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Prizes as MotivationSo, after 1153 Questions, 938 Discussion Board Postings and 4...

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted October 19, 2010 at 4:17 AM via web

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Prizes as Motivation

So, after 1153 Questions, 938 Discussion Board Postings and 4 Document Uploadings (not to mention hours of ceaseless toil on behalf of enotes) I have finally achieved Editor Emeritus Status. But, and thinking pedagogically here, would I have bothered if I didn't have the glittering prize of this badge awaiting me? Or, to put it in concrete terms, do our students perform best when they have external motivation to win prizes or badges or awards like we do as enotes editors, or are they driven by internal motivation.

And the biggest question is, now that I have Editor Emeritus Status, have enotes shot themselves in the foot? After all, I have no more clearly defined badges to win, so what is my motivation for continuing to work?

So how does this apply in the classroom?!

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epollock | Valedictorian

Posted October 19, 2010 at 5:35 AM (Answer #2)

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I don't think it's the badge but the money. I have a Class Econ System in my classes, and without it, I would not have the continual high test scores, teacher awards and have a high percentasge of students attend an Ivy league School, all here in Korea. Prizes are an excellent source of motivation, just not everything.

I actually give all of the money I get from eNotes and use it as prizes in my auctions.

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bullgatortail | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted October 19, 2010 at 6:30 AM (Answer #3)

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Kids do seem to gravitate toward rewards of some kind. Candy worked as a general reward, but most schools frown on sugar treats these days. I used to donate baseball cards and request other items from teachers. We would have a Chinese auction a couple times per year; students with the best grades had previously earned the most tickets, so at least they had a better chance at winning.

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hustoncmk | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Assistant Educator

Posted October 19, 2010 at 7:36 AM (Answer #4)

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I think students definitely seem to try harder with rewards set in front of them.  At one school I taught in I was able to offer students 10% extra credit for any assignments they turned in early. It was a wonderful incentive for second semester seniors taking economics. They knew when they were going to have conflicts with school plays, senior activities, and athletic events. If assignments were late they would lose points, so most of them chose to get them done early and get the extra credit. When it came to final exam time, much of the pressure was significantly reduced because they had earned extra credit during the semester.

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Scott Locklear | College Teacher | eNotes Employee

Posted October 19, 2010 at 11:01 AM (Answer #5)

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Prizes as Motivation

So, after 1153 Questions, 938 Discussion Board Postings and 4 Document Uploadings (not to mention hours of ceaseless toil on behalf of enotes) I have finally achieved Editor Emeritus Status. But, and thinking pedagogically here, would I have bothered if I didn't have the glittering prize of this badge awaiting me? Or, to put it in concrete terms, do our students perform best when they have external motivation to win prizes or badges or awards like we do as enotes editors, or are they driven by internal motivation.

And the biggest question is, now that I have Editor Emeritus Status, have enotes shot themselves in the foot? After all, I have no more clearly defined badges to win, so what is my motivation for continuing to work?

So how does this apply in the classroom?!

Ah, fear not! There are more badges and awards in the works.

Scott Locklear

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lrwilliams | College Teacher | (Level 3) Associate Educator

Posted October 19, 2010 at 2:56 PM (Answer #6)

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I think most all students work for some sort of reward, our goal as teachers and educators should be to move the student from extrinsic rewards to intrinsic rewards. This is sometimes difficult depending on where the student is coming from.

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besure77 | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Senior Educator

Posted October 19, 2010 at 3:16 PM (Answer #7)

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I have found that students work better when they are rewarded. I wish that more students worked harder in school because they value education but this usually isn't the case. Our school uses school "bucks" that are given out for good behavior. The kids can save the "bucks" and buy things in the school store at the end of the week.
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missy575 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted October 19, 2010 at 4:23 PM (Answer #8)

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Rewards are a necessary feature of a society. Although the idea that intangible rewards like being highly responsible, or the A on the report card would be wonderful, money talks. Benefits talk. Heck, I'll fill out a survey if I get 10 bucks off my next grocery shopping trip.

For students, I think they understand (at least by high school) that they are working their way through a big hoop so they can eventually earn money. It is a necessary process in life to get to go to college which in some cases can earn you more money.

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brettd | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted October 19, 2010 at 4:51 PM (Answer #9)

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Looking forward to the Editor-Emeritus-Emeritus Award, Scott haha.  Not only do prizes work as motivators, but it doesn't even have to be much of a prize.  Kids will do a lot of work for a few extra credit points, and I have had students, years later, come back to me and say they still have the dorky certificate I printed up with their name on it.  It's more the recognition than the physical prize, just like I love it when I get five stars, knowing full well there's a teenager on the other end of that ratings system.  We're human and we're motivated by rewards.

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susan3smith | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator

Posted October 19, 2010 at 5:05 PM (Answer #10)

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I was surprised at how motivated I was by the enotes badges.  I guess I used to feel the same way about making As in school.  I don't necessarily need the external incentives, but they do help!  It has made me realize that I should do more for my students.  The carrot works better than the stick.

I teach highly motivated students, and I usually don't have do that much to keep them motivated.  But last week when we were doing Macbeth, the student who made the the highest grade on the Act 1 quiz was able to choose whichever part he wanted to read for Act 2; the grades for the Act 2 quiz this week were much higher!  It doesn't take much, I am realizing.  People just like to know that their efforts are noticed.

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Lori Steinbach | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted October 21, 2010 at 1:13 PM (Answer #11)

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I agree that it's recognition which fuels a sense of accomplishment. Contests and things like "Stump the Teacher" (where their quiz grade is based on the three best questions they ask me) are always not only good motivators but a good way to eliminate some of the naturally humdrum aspects of a class. 

Lori Steinbach

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kiwi | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator

Posted October 21, 2010 at 10:25 PM (Answer #12)

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 In my classroom I have a 'smiley face board' - yes, I teach seniors. If a good answer is given, their name goes on the board, then each subsequent answer gets a tick. Objective = all class on the board. Students often set themselves a goal of a number of ticks if we are working on a text they know well. I was observed by a colleague who said at the end of the lesson, 'What's the reward for this?', meaning te notes on the board. One of my boys simply pointed and said 'That is.'

Recognition is the best reward, however it is manifested: be it a badge (and I celebrate my e-notes ones with glee) a candy or a compliment.

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lshepheard | Elementary School Teacher | eNoter

Posted October 23, 2010 at 4:29 AM (Answer #13)

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Prizes as Motivation

So, after 1153 Questions, 938 Discussion Board Postings and 4 Document Uploadings (not to mention hours of ceaseless toil on behalf of enotes) I have finally achieved Editor Emeritus Status. But, and thinking pedagogically here, would I have bothered if I didn't have the glittering prize of this badge awaiting me? Or, to put it in concrete terms, do our students perform best when they have external motivation to win prizes or badges or awards like we do as enotes editors, or are they driven by internal motivation.

And the biggest question is, now that I have Editor Emeritus Status, have enotes shot themselves in the foot? After all, I have no more clearly defined badges to win, so what is my motivation for continuing to work?

So how does this apply in the classroom?!

I am a kindergarten teacher and I do use rewards as an incentive to get my students to behave and follow the rules of the classroom. I work on the color system to chart behavior ---green, yellow, red---and if at the end of the week the student has stayed on green each day, they receive a prize out of the treasure chest.

You should see some of the crushed faces I have to deal with if one of my students does not get to go the treasure box. Seeing their friends happy to get a toy makes them more determined the next week to stay on green. They will even tell me they are working to stay on green because they want to be able to pick a toy.

Of course external rewards only works if the person cares whether or not they get one. I do have 1 or 2 students who this does not work on and I have to find other ways to motivate them.

Overall though this system has been working in my class and helps keep them focused (most of the time).

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 2) Distinguished Educator

Posted November 9, 2010 at 11:15 AM (Answer #14)

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I realized that everyone, no matter his or her age likes ANY kind of recognition when, jokingly, I used some juvenile stickers on GED students' papers and then wrote a sincere not underneath.  When one student did not receive the sticker, she asked about it.  I told her that part was mere joking.  But, she still wanted it; gladly, I gave it, of course.

However, when everyone gets a trophy just for completing a mile walk/run or for being around long enough to have amounted so many whatever, the meaning of the prize is, indeed, mitigated.  After all, part of value of the honor is the quality of those others who have the same honor. Sometimes our "feel-good" society forgets this.

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howesk | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Assistant Educator

Posted November 17, 2010 at 10:49 AM (Answer #15)

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With students, prizes are motivators, but so is just plain old competition. I create a tale-telling contest for my Canterbury Tales unit project, and I've found that even when students don't know there is a prize, they still just want to win! They want to have the best tale and be recognized.

Recognition here, I think, is key. Many students don't get recognized in their daily lives by their parents. Some students aren't the type who win awards and recognition from extra-curricular activities, or scholarships. Sometimes getting a piece of candy for being the first one to answer a question correctly is the only "win" a student may have during the day.

I feel this way sometimes too... when everything in my life seems to be going badly, I might think to myself, "Oh well, at least my football team has a winning record." I think winning is important, whether there's a prize in it for you or not.

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trophyhunter1 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted November 21, 2010 at 5:57 AM (Answer #16)

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I teach students who are not extremely motivated. And, while prizes may be nice, I would like to think that positive reinforcement actually works better than prizes, although I have given both on occasion. In my inclusion class which has special ed and general ed kids, I notice that what seems to be best is to use compliments and positive reinforcement. The students seem to respond best to that tactic.

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mizzwillie | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator

Posted November 21, 2010 at 2:22 PM (Answer #17)

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I have taught everything from college students, honors classes, to unmotivated juvenile delinquents incarcerated for any length of time according to their records.  I agree that positive reinforcement is the best motivator.  To be recognized  by student vote for the best sentence created out of movable pieces, or to have their names on the board for teacher recognition of an answer, a question asked, or a positive response to a peer's answer, seemed to be what they wanted most.  Of course I also used tangible rewards such as jolly ranchers for almost anything so that I could recognize even the loud ones --for a leadership tactic in class, a great smile, or whatever was needed.  I found it useful as students didn't always want me to talk to them at the time, but wanted to discuss the recognition at home or later with me.

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booboosmoosh | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

Posted November 29, 2010 at 12:16 PM (Answer #18)

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There are a great deal of wonderful points made here, as well as good ideas for the classroom.

I have historically had students of varying academic levels, and therefore, also varying motivational levels. Across the board, after close to twenty years of teaching on the secondary level, everything but 10th grade, I have found the growing preponderance of apathy, and disheartening lack of intrinsic motivation difficult to address in the classroom.

I believe teachers are always looking for new ways to engage their students. For so many of us, it is not just a way to make money: though that is certainly a big part of it (bills, bills, bills). However, I think many teachers (more than the public could imagine) actually enjoy learning to teach others, and having the ability to connect with their students on a deeply personal level in guiding them to increased self-actualization and personal success.

As we "grow up," we find satisfaction in growing intellectually. A grad class taken that affords the "A," as mentioned, may now mean more to us than an "A" at  sixteen might have. We do enjoy, as also mentioned, a pat on the back and recognition for our efforts, especially when we go "above and beyond."

The badges are great motivators for us as adults and professional learners and teachers, in whatever guise we operate. Preparing lessons that grab the imagination of students usually disinterested is an awesome feeling. Watching the lightbulb go on is an experience that is hard to match.

I am glad to hear that more badges and awards are coming. The money is helpful.

However, discussions with other eNotes professionals provide us all with ideas and encouragement, and allow us to connect with other "educators" where a hectic day at work does not often afford us with the opportunity to do so otherwise. It is wonderful to be learning for learning's sake, and to be able to pick your collective brains. Thanks for sharing.

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vikas1802 | Student , College Freshman | Honors

Posted November 30, 2010 at 3:33 AM (Answer #19)

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i think the name of this system should be "REWARD SYSTEM".yeah this is a very nice and provoking systen for student.for an example i want to mention here my own story that in inetrmediate i git fail once but by father give me some respect and said that i will buy a cricket bat for you and said that i know this is not your way you can do more than it, of course you can do what you want and the next day he bought a bat and gave me also freeship to play cricket although i was fail in that year but this gave me proudness and now i m a student of bhu ,so i personally think that this is a quit good way to make forward to students.i m with it.                   this is a request to all the users that go and check my bolg using this link  http://vikas10011990.blogspot.com   and check my last tittle "VALUE OF LOVE" comments are also invited.

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bhlewis | Student , Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted December 16, 2010 at 1:00 PM (Answer #20)

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Students need to feel good about their efforts to appreciate their academic experience. Some students may feel good about mastering a skill or learning new things, but many feel so far below teacher expectations that they need another motivation. As a young student, I wouldn't care about anything we worked on unless I could feel clever, and sometimes that meant winning a prize.

While I was teaching English in China, the students loved little things like stickers. I suspect that their infatuation eventually grew from a social desire to not be without stickers. I believe that the best rewards are going to be psychological, though. When students feel engaged, whether that's through entertainment or confidence, they will enjoy learning and make the process smoother.

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litteacher8 | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted August 12, 2011 at 2:45 PM (Answer #21)

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First of all, I DO want those 50,000 points!  I think one thing we lose sight of is that prizes make things fun.  They turn work into a game.  I like helping others on enotes, and I like making some extra money that I do need, but I also enjoy collecting badges and points!

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Michelle Ossa | College Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

Posted September 27, 2011 at 4:06 AM (Answer #22)

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When I joined Enotes there were no extra badges like "scribe" or the three levels for editors. I didn't even know that there were EARNINGS (AND I AM FOR REAL)! I actually had so much fun finally being able to express myself and practice my writing (and I have compared how I used to write versus how much Enotes has helped me improve) that I totally did not read whether there was anything there "for me"-whatever that means.

I do remember being told that I was accepted as an editor and I was like "OK?". Then, when my SSN was requested I finally clicked on the "earnings" button because I had made the connection that an SSN is required for all forms of payment. Anyway, to make the long story short (too late now) I was so happy that my love for literature earned me 9 dollars! I just love doing this. If they said tomorrow that there is no badge or no money I would still do it because I've been a happy-go-lucky freelancer for a long long time. To be 100% honest with you, the fact that my little future empire logo, Herappleness, is visible to the world is good enough for me. :)

PS: But absolutely, in this economy and me working for a government that consistently threatens to shut down, the extra cash is appreciated!

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