I’ve written before about Daniel Pink and his description of research that shows extrinsic rewards do work — for mechanical work that doesn’t require much higher-order thinking. But it will not work for anything that requires higher-order thinking skills and creativity.
A new study has just come out reinforcing that finding:
Some participants were asked to use cognitive skills (adding numbers); others performed only a mechanical task (tapping a key as fast as possible). On the latter, higher bonuses worked. But when tasks included rudimentary cognitive skills, results mirrored the Indian study. Dangling a very big carrot led to poorer performance.
This is just another reminder to me that a reward system can be very effective in getting a class under control, but that it’s essential to wean them off the system as quickly as possible.
I agree. When it becomes more about the reward, i.e. “Are we going to get — if we are quiet, good, clean up, whatever, then the reward has become a bargaining chip. This I found was especially true if the kids asked what the reward was going to be BEFORE they did what was asked of them.