Prizes as MotivationSo, 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...

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?!

21 Answers | Add Yours

herappleness's profile pic

M.P. Ossa | College Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

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!

litteacher8's profile pic

litteacher8 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

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!

booboosmoosh's profile pic

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

Posted on

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.

mizzwillie's profile pic

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

Posted on

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.

trophyhunter1's profile pic

trophyhunter1 | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

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.

howesk's profile pic

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

Posted on

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.

mwestwood's profile pic

mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

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.

kiwi's profile pic

kiwi | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator

Posted on

 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.

auntlori's profile pic

Lori Steinbach | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

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. 

susan3smith's profile pic

susan3smith | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator

Posted on

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.

brettd's profile pic

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

Posted on

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.

missy575's profile pic

missy575 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

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.

besure77's profile pic

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

Posted on

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.
lrwilliams's profile pic

lrwilliams | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator

Posted on

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.

scott-locklear's profile pic

Scott Locklear | College Teacher | eNotes Employee

Posted on

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.

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