Monday, March 6, 2017

The Carrot and the Stick Don't Work

Excellence in Education: Student Motivation: The Carrot and the Stick Don’t Work
As I stood on duty Friday morning, a student passed me with two cups, one filled with Goldfish crackers and another with soda. Moments later, another student walked up the stairs with his own Goldfish, soda and some candy. After asking him about it, he said, “Mr. McClung gave it to us since we were good for the sub...I’m gonna be fat.”

Later in the day, I asked Mr. McClung if the rewards was random and when he told me it was, I knew I had my my topic for this week’s memo. Mr. McClung’s use of a random reward struck a chord with me as a fan of Edward Deci’s and Daniel Pink’s research on motivation.

While rewards for mundane tasks can make sense. For example, when the task is simple, such as producing x-number of thingamajigs in one hour rewards may increase production. For most situations, however, rewards may actually be damaging to motivation and creativity. Furthermore, if-then rewards intended to motivate for good behavior, such as “behave for the sub and I’ll give you candy,” also don’t work.

Taking it a step further, rewards narrow focus and diminish creativity.  For higher-order thinking tasks that require problem-solving and creativity, however, rewards narrow people’s focus. Unless, that is, if the reward is unexpected and random. Expected rewards have the most potential damage. Unexpected rewards can have a positive impact while minimizing the potential risks. “If-then rewards usually do more harm than good. By neglecting the ingredients of genuine motivation--autonomy, mastery, and purpose--they limit what each of us can achieve.” (Pink)

Summing it up
  • Autonomy: Students benefit from meaningful feedback, choice and encouragement. We should strive to provide them with opportunities to control the various aspects of their learning.
  • Mastery: Students need to experience and see their own progress. Tasks that are too easy or too difficult will cause students to shutdown. Learning tasks should be of appropriate challenge AND we must provide them with the opportunity to improve by challenging and supporting them.
  • Purpose: Students have to care about the outcome. If students see the value and relevancy to what they are doing, they will be motivated.
  • Once in place, rewards are hard to take away. If extra credit, is offered after the first five tests, students will come to expect it on the sixth test.
  • Rewards work best on the tedious tasks.
  • Unexpected rewards can have a positive influence.
  • Extrinsic rewards and incentives (the carrots) can have a NEGATIVE impact on learning and motivation
  • Rewards can make students feel as if they are being controlled. Think about this as it pertains to grading.

Useful Links:

Portfolio Assistance If you have a student who needs assistance setting up his/her portfolio, click here

Technology / Website Permission Request Form Please use this form to request use of a website that requires student log-in if the site is not already on the approved list. DART approved list

Calendar and Memo Items
Friday is a club day with club pictures. Lovefest on the 14th.
AP Registration concludes this week.  
Please remember that the copy room and mailroom are off limits to students at all times.
February 20 and March 31 are NORMAL school days now.

Help Save The Next Girl: 9th and 10th grades, Feb 28; 11th and 12th grades, March 1 Here’s the schedule;

February 14: Barry Keith
February 17: Sarah Orme

Worth Your Time
Daniel Pink Resources

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