Question Detail

Gimme, gimme, gimme...

Jun 4, 2013 11:15pm

This question is designed for my MAT 5320 students (Univ. of Central Arkansas), but anyone is invited to share his or her thoughts!

How do you balance rewarding students for growth and success without creating a sense of dependency (constant need for praise, extrinsic rewards, etc.)?

  • Pre K-12
  • Class Culture


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    • Oct 23, 2013 9:43am

      It is extremely important for students to grow and succeed without constantly being extrinsically rewarded. Students can begin to become dependent on this reward system if that is how they have been conditioned. Students could begin to expect a reward after every positive action and this is not realistic. To avoid the pitfalls of constant extrinsic motivation teachers must seek to increase the student’s intrinsic motivation. In order to do this, students need to see their task at hand as a needs satisfying task. Meaning that the task must satisfy one of the five basic human needs, which are: survival and security, love and belonging, power and purpose, freedom and novelty, and fun. This will help students experience an increase in intrinsic motivation. Experiencing a balance of both intrinsic and extrinsic motivation will keep the students from becoming dependent on rewards. The balance is found when extrinsic motivation is given only on deserved tasks, not just any small task.

      • Jun 5, 2014 6:05pm

        All of my teaching experience is in higher ed, which clearly differs in significant ways from secondary ed, my intended area of licensure. For one, higher ed isn't compulsory. This changes the expectation of praise or reward significantly. However, it has been my experience that many entering freshmen still operate to varying degrees as though they were still within the secondary education model.

        The way that I have praised my students is by continuously engaging with them on course content and writing questions and comments on the drafts of their essays. When I first ask students to speak up in class, usually after some small group discussion, many are reluctant. Once we have engaged in this activity several times, students' reluctance abates. By designing learning objectives that are specific, observable, measurable, and attainable instructors can ensure that success and growth has a specific criteria. I try to pay special attention not only to the logical consistency of my students' essays but also to the personal flourishes that many students include. I underline and include praise such as "strong point" or "excellent example" when appropriate. Underlining student humor and acknowledging it or returning tongue-in-cheek observations in kind also seem to be effective. When appropriate, I use exemplary work as an example. Students are people and people generally respond to being rewarded with sincere attention being paid to them.

        Will my students become dependent on instructor feedback and commentary? It is unlikely. No matter how much feedback I try to give each student, the demands on my time prevent me from giving very much. Additionally, I limit the language in my feedback. Rather than write "good job" or "great work" I write "strong work" or "excellent argument". By focusing on the quality of the work I emphasize the student's performance rather than any intrinsic qualities they possess. It would seem that praise feeds learning and learning leads to praise.

        • Jun 5, 2013 3:29am

          One has to shift the students from a lower level of Kohlberg to a higher level. I have not stopped praising students in over 20 years, regardless of whether or not anyone else does it. And, I have been rewarding students ever since. Trust and a positive value class takes time, energy, and a will to make the class what you want it to be.

          • Sep 4, 2013 9:36am

            I am not a believer in the 'Here is a candy for you" for every time you do good. In fact the computer lab does not allow food nor drink and yet my students love to come (sometimes I can't get them to leave). Instead like Linsin says at this link:
            I believe in making my GREAT praise private. CTK has designed a special note card that says "This Bears Repeating..." that I tell the student what I am praising them on and then the school will mail it to their home. The small gestures of taking the time to work with the student one on one and saying I knew you could do it. The shining or worthy praise when they get to actually show the class how well they have done by teaching the lesson and finally the sincere praise my favorite one of all. My students for nine years know that when I do take the time to give them the praise they have earned it and love to show it.

            • Oct 23, 2013 10:15am

              I believe that it is important to find a good balance when it comes to this. Teachers should lean more towards praise and less towards actual treats or prizes as rewards. Students start to become dependent and expect rewards for completing even the smallest tasks after time. I think it is important to make sure that our students stay encouraged and motivated, so when a student does well praising them and displaying their work could be a good idea. I think it is important to punish bad behavior and to reward good behavior but I plan to do this in a way where my students don't constantly have their hand out. Some rewards can be educational. An example of this could be giving those who are well behaved fun activities to do after their work is complete (cross-word puzzles, fun word problems, brain teasers) rather than giving them candy or toys. My goal is to teach my students that good behavior is a must, whether there is a reward or not. I also want my students to be excited about learning and doing educational activities. I believe that some type of behavior system is a must but that it should fit the students and teachers needs.

              • Oct 24, 2013 1:18pm

                How best to reward students made me wonder about the difference between "encouragement" and "praise"; after all, encouragement feels like praise, and I think we all can be encouraged by praise. For me, encouragement is vital to keeping students motivated and engaged, and encouragement needs to happen every day in every class. Receiving answers with excited nodding, an "exactly/that's right/good, good", or even a cornball sincere thumbs-up can go a long way towards maintaining directed attention. Encouragement also includes neutral responses to student comments that may not be what the teacher was hoping to hear, responses like "tell us a little more" or "let's think about that for a minute", responses that encourage by lending value to a student's input regardless of whether it is "correct" or not.

                Taking it to the dictionary, "encourage" means "to inspire, to stimulate" and "praise" means "to express approval or admiration". I suppose encouragement is subtle praise, then, and should be an important part of teacher-student communication. I like the idea of significant, single-student praise being privately communicated, and then rarely and only when deserved; I think this keeps students (both the praised and those around him) from developing a desire to perform solely for the sake of another's approval, since I believe an important part of school is helping students develop and desire self-approval.

                I don't believe in extrinsic rewards without it being beyond doubt that the student(s) deserved a reward. I think a lot of times that what's good for one student would probably be good for them all, and rewarding a class for one student's positive performance might help for the group's sake motivate positive performance and discourage negative performance.

                • Oct 31, 2013 3:53pm

                  I believe the best form of positive reinforcement is verbal. Students should feel they are valued and hear you say you're proud of their efforts and achievements. I do this daily but I have experienced the "gimmies" in my first grade classroom.

                  I have tried a reward system that allowed students to put their name in a jar for a weekly reward drawing if I caught them doing something amazing. This was wonderful at first but then the students started asking "Can I put my name in for ..." or they would just make sure I was watching and then be good. The bad case of the gimmies changed my attitude about that reward system.

                  So, I reflected. My new reward sytem allows students one treat at the end of the day if they had a well behaved, successful school day. The kids know they will never get more than one treat and they have to work for it. A daily reward may not be needed by all students but my group seems to need that extra reinforcement rather than waiting the entire week.They may be hooked on the rewards but it does make the day go by smooth and the students strive to get it through doing their best on their work and improving behavior.

                  • Oct 31, 2013 5:32pm

                    I think there is a very fine line to rewarding students without creating a sense of dependency. I think in order to achive this you must know your students. Each student is different and different things motivate them. The thing that worked for Bobby may not work for Susie. I think you also must establish a positive environment in your classroom. There should be lots of praise and encouragement. I also think the rewards must be given at random because the student will become dependent on it and negative results may start to occur instead of positive. The whole idea would be for the reward to be the feeling of accomplishment and having some pride in what the student has accomplished instead of the candy being the reward.

                    • Jun 7, 2013 8:29am

                      If you think about psychology, subjects don't become dependent on reward if it's not done every time. Praising students is important to help them build intrinsic values in learning, so I don't shy away from it, but I don't give it out to every student on every assignment either. I like to create a positive environment and I think that frequent praise helps kids feel good about themselves and what they are accomplishing. After all, as adults, we like praise too, it should just be reserved when the work is really deserving, like when students meet new milestones, go above and beyond to be respectful, etc...

                      Katie (@KatieNovakUDL)

                      • Oct 17, 2013 1:06pm

                        I will explain to my students that giving rewards whether praise or worldly trinkets is totally at my discretion. I will let them know up front that I expect each one to try very hard to be successful in what they do, but not to always expect some type of reward. That the ultimate goal is to learn something. I will help them develop self-worth, which in turn will help them learn that the success they achieve is the true reward and one that can't be taken away. Reiterate that extrinsic rewards and praise only last for a short time but the growth in knowledge will last a lifetime.

                        Authra Meshal Brown

                        • Oct 18, 2013 5:51am

                          I want to create a positive environment in my classroom; therefore, there will be lots of praise and encouragement. I believe that middle school students are usually struggling to figure out who they are and where they fit. It is imperative to reaffirm them and make them feel competent in their development. Spoiling them is a different idea, entirely. Giving everyone the same amount of praise and adoration can water down the effectiveness of a well-deserved "atta boy!" I want my future students to know that I am for them by my warmth and also by my professionalism. I am confident that I will be able to balance the two, by making an intentional effort to love and care for students while keeping appropriate structure and procedures in place.

                          • Oct 18, 2013 11:22am

                            This is a tricky question to answer. I am struggling for the answers in my own home with my 20 month old. Research has proven that positive reinforcement is more beneficial than negative reinforcement. As a teacher, I always want to lean on the side of rewarding my students for good behavior, even if it becomes somewhat mundane. Some students may never get that affirmation at home.

                            With all that being said, there does have to be a line drawn somewhere. Once a good behavior is established in the classroom, there should be an expectation that students will act appropriately, without any sort of extrinsic reward. It is the Teacher's responsibility to communicate when a certain behavior reaches the point of expectation. It should be clearly articulated that no more "treats" will be given for performing this expected behavior.

                            • Oct 20, 2013 5:24pm

                              If rewards and praise are only given randomly for exceptional work rather than continually for average work, the students will strive to receive a reward rather than expect to get one every time. Also, I want to teach my students the importance of taking pride in their work. I believe that the key to successfully using rewards and praise in the classroom is being selective of when you give it out. Students should not be given rewards or praise unless they deserve it. If rewards or praise is given too easily, the students will begin to expect to receive it all of the time. I think that the students should feel that they have to work hard in order to receive one. Plus, I believe that students should be weaned off of extrinsic rewards and shown the joy that comes from doing your best and being successful.

                              • Oct 22, 2013 10:59am

                                This is one question that I, personally, am struggling with; perhaps the best scenario is making the praise and reward private. Seeing how among classmates the reward systems can create competition, jealousy, envy and mistrust. Rewards or prizes for ‘good’ performance are a threat to co-operation or collaboration. This could isolate the individual and leave the out for the wolves. It is possible that a simple ‘Great job today, Aimee’ or ‘High five, Michael’ is the best forms of positive reinforcement among students. As Eric Pollock stated in a few comments ahead of this one, "Trust and a positive value class takes time, energy, and a will to make the class what you want it to be."

                                • Oct 22, 2013 3:00pm

                                  My policy is to be kind to my students always, and dote on them whenever I have the chance. For some reason, it seems that high school students don't often hear praise for doing the right thing, and instead only hear criticism for doing the wrong thing. Therefore, I praise all students each time they do something correctly, whether it is answering a question correctly or remembering to close a drawer after use. This being said, by about the third week of school, I began to add a request for growth to my praise. This way, students get a pat on the back and know that I see them doing the right thing, but it comes with an expectation that they will continue on the same path and get better and better. I have found that the students who seemed to need the most praise at the start of the year are now the students who have stepped into leadership roles, praising their peers for the right thing.

                                  • Oct 23, 2013 12:13pm

                                    The way that I look at it is that instead of making rewards something students look to for doing what is expected of them you make rewards something that students look to for exceeding what is expected of them. To make this work, I believe you have to make your rules, procedures, and expectations very clear. After the students completely understand the rules, procedures, and expectations clear, rewards can be given to students who exceed the expectations - not just for following the rules. For example, if a rule is to keep your area clean and a student picks up trash around their area, they do not get a reward because that is expected. If a student picks up trash around their area, on the path to the trash can, and around the trash can, they can be rewarded because they did more than what was expected. This allows students to get rewarded for doing good things but I believe that it will eliminate a sense of dependency for the reward because you have to go above and beyond what is being asked of you to get it.

                                    • Oct 23, 2013 5:42pm

                                      I think this will depend on the group of student you have at the time and the answer will fluctuate. Getting to know your students and observing their self confidence is a huge factor. A student with low self esteem may need constant verbal praise to just feel normal each day whereas a student who displays a sense of entitlement may refuse to do what you ask unless there will be a reward. I think the key is to keep the physical rewards unpredictable and the verbal praise genuine. I don't think students should be rewarded for tasks that should be done anyway. I think the rewards should be given to those that go above and beyond what is expected. When rewards are overused they lose their value.

                                      • Oct 24, 2013 1:59pm

                                        I think rewards and praise can be a very good tool in the classroom if you know the right way to use them. Rewards can be motivating to the students who believe they have a chance at succeeding. Teachers should reward students for hard work not just for the best grade because the students that don't think they have a chance will not be motivated to try. I think that giving praise to students is a great idea and a great tool for student motivation. I plan on praising all of my students for their achievements, big or small.

                                        • Oct 24, 2013 2:05pm

                                          I think rewards and praise can be a very good tool in the classroom if you know the right way to use them. Rewards can be motivating to the students who believe they have a chance at succeeding. Teachers should reward students for hard work not just for the best grade because the students that don't think they have a chance will not be motivated to try. I think giving praise to students is a great idea and a great tool for motivating students. I plan on praising all of my students for their achievements, big or small.

                                          • Oct 24, 2013 5:11pm

                                            It is very import to give praise and reward when good behavior is being displayed; however I would only give this when I feel that the child is going over and above what is expected. By doing this, I feel like the student would see that in order to receive the praise and/or reward they must work hard to go above and beyond the teacher’s expectations. I do not think the praise and reward should ever be stopped; however as stated above, it should be selective and only be given when the student goes above and beyond the teacher’s expectations. The students may think “gimme, gimme, gimme” simply because that’s a part of being a child, but if the teacher displays this type of praise and reward the student will know what they have to in order to receive it.

                                            • Oct 24, 2013 5:00pm

                                              I believe that rewards are a necessary and important aspect in the classroom. The rewards do not always have to be material rewards. They can also be words of praise or something special such as getting to sit with the teacher during lunch. The key to rewards is to make sure that they are not given if they are not earned. Students need to know that they will only get rewarded if they show exceptional conduct. Rewards also need to be a pleasant surprise. If students are not told that they are going to be getting rewarded for certain things, then they will not come to expect them. As teachers, we need to make certain that students know how to behave appropriately without expecting a reward in return. If students never know when or if they will be getting rewarded, then it will be a splendid surprise when they do get rewarded.

                                              • Oct 24, 2013 7:09pm

                                                I always wonder how far to take positive reinforcement. Do you give rewards or do you praise them for the good behaviors? I have found that working at a behavioral facility that praising children is more effective than them receiving treats for behaving well. Majority of kids are not praised enough at home. I strongly believe that praising children for their positive behavior will help mold them into a better students. Praising them for making good grades, answering a question aloud correctly, or trying to answer the question correctly will help build their self-confidence. The students’ just want to feel appreciated and loved. Now I do not believe giving students prizes or treats too much because children take advantage it and will expect it all the time. However, teachers must be careful to not reinforce negative behavior. Rewarding or praising negative behavior will set your classroom up for failure.

                                                • Oct 24, 2013 6:11pm

                                                  I always wonder how far to take positive reinforcement. Do you give rewards or do you praise them for the good behaviors? I have found that working at a behavioral facility that praising children is more effective than them receiving treats for behaving well. Majority of kids are not praised enough at home. I strongly believe that praising children for their positive behavior will help mold them into a better students. Praising them for making good grades, answering a question aloud correctly, or trying to answer the question correctly will help build their self-confidence. The students’ just want to feel appreciated and loved. Now I do not believe giving students prizes or treats too much because children take advantage it and will expect it all the time. However, teachers must be careful to not reinforce negative behavior. Rewarding or praising negative behavior will set your classroom up for failure.

                                                  • Oct 24, 2013 6:21pm

                                                    I think maintaining a positive environment in the classroom is important, especially in today’s society when some kids rarely hear positive words of encouragement. However, a positive attitude and environment is different from praise and extrinsic rewards. I think there are situations when praise and rewards are appropriate and should be used and given to students but they should be kept for times that are special and exceptional times. For example, I do not agree with the way things are done now on little league teams where each participate gets a trophy for just being part of the team. I believe that takes away from the “glory” of the actual trophy and its meaning when a child actually earns a trophy for an achievement. I think that children must learn that these achievements are earned as well as many other things in life. When the teacher keeps the classroom environment positive and the students engaged, students are learning without even realizing it, what an awesome reward!

                                                    • Oct 25, 2013 1:27pm

                                                      The balancing act for rewards is tricky not only in a school environment but in a home environment with children as well. Positive reinforcement does foster a healthy sense of pride in children, and praise for a job well done and good efforts should be given frequently. However, everything a student does should not be rewarded because students need to learn to have pride in their work without an outside gain; they need to develop intrinsic motivation. Helping students toward wanting to behave and perform well for their own pride can be more easily achieved in a classroom where respect is mutual, the students respect the teacher and the teacher respects the students. Also, as far as rewards go, I feel that stickers and small trinkets are fine when used sparingly, but food or candy should not be given as a reward.

                                                      • Oct 25, 2013 4:30pm

                                                        In order to avoid dependency praise and rewards extrinsic rewards should be used sparingly, and only when needed. Upon further reflection, I think rewards should be approached in the same manner as instruction. Obviously, we want to praise all of our students when they do well; however, some students may require more. In each of our groups we have some students who are self-assured and well-performing, some who are well below average, and then we have those who are somewhere in between. It makes sense that the students who need the most praise and extrinsic rewards are those who are not performing well. For students who may need constant praise, maybe they could make a personal goal chart, which would allow each individual to see and keep up with his/her own progress.

                                                        • Oct 25, 2013 6:10pm

                                                          Praise verse reward is either one above the other on motivating children to do the right thing? When we look at praise and reward to get children to do something we are essentially looking at getting them to do what is right for which according to the motivation theorist, children should have the drive to feel pride in doing the right thing. Motivation theorist believe if children are rewarded that they will lose their intrinsic motivation to sustain their behavior. While on the other hand the behavior theorist believe that people are utilitarian therefore behaviors are motivated by consequences. It is a fine line and I feel that we have to be careful with both praise and reward and not use them to much are in expect time frames.

                                                          • Oct 25, 2013 6:19pm

                                                            I think that rewarding learners for their work is great but it should not be done every time they have been successful in class. Rewarding a learner every time is just a behavior response. Is that what you really want from your group of learners, NO! You want the lesson material interesting enough so that the learners want to learn and want to know more, therefore be successful in the class. This is what you really want. With that said you will need to constantly praise and support your students. At different times will need to focus on several students you who have shown great progress and show these students extra praise. These students may be your typical A students or the students who tend to not be as productive in class. If you want to show a student additional praise you should do that in private as to not show favoritism towards one student. I know this will be hard for me to get used to when I start teaching.

                                                            • Oct 26, 2013 5:11am

                                                              Daryl Spencer

                                                              I have not been a person whose has given out awards much over the years. Of course this was not in the teaching profession and I was dealing with adults. I did give out praise when I thought a person performed above what was expected of them. I do believe that praise is needed from time to time for everyone. It is an individual thing in that some people or students need more praise than others. It is something that a teacher needs use judiciously. If the awards or praise is given too easily or too often it loses its effectiveness or it becomes something they think they should get for everything they do whether it is deserved or not. I have seen this while working in industry and it can become very frustrating. Also, awarding the entire classroom needs to be fore the performance of the entire class not just performance of a few individuals. It is a balancing act as is many tings and it is something I need to work on. I have not been a person who gives out praise over the years. I do think it is more important for children than adults. I especially think it is needed for some children because of their situations outside the classroom. It is another reason the teacher needs to know their students.

                                                              • Oct 27, 2013 6:39pm

                                                                Rewards are great for giving students the feeling of accomplishment, which boosts their self-esteem in education. When you want to keep a balance with rewarding students you have to make sure correction for bad/mistakes are equal. Rewards in my opinion only develop growth for lower levels of education. Those students will sometime need some sense of motivation to either keep their attention or maybe even get that extra push. Once students have reach the 7-12 grade age it then becomes more of a self-determination for themselves getting ready for the workforce and leadership positions later on in life. Regardless if the reward is given you have to make sure the reward is earned and just not passed out for small goals obtain.

                                                                • Oct 27, 2013 5:59pm

                                                                  There is a fine line between when and why should you reward a student. I believe that every student is different but there should be a mechanism in place in each classroom on how to reward each student. This mechanism of rewards should be in place depending on the age of the student and type of class you are teaching. Rewards are a sour subject for me, I was raised in a third world country were tangible rewards are not used only extrinsic rewards as teacher's praises, smiles, pats on the back or thumbs up.
                                                                  A successful mechanism towards a balanced reward system should include extrinsic, behavioral and task oriented rewards. I have seen teachers praising too much that can give the impression of favoritism or been overly nice. Teachers can use all of these rewards systems in a classroom environment, for example, Last week, I was grading an in class activity were the student had to draw different type of perspective drawings. The student did an excellent job in this activity, but this is the first time she had a good grade in her activities. My first thought is to attach a note to her work in writing saying “Great Job, Keep it up.” When I saw her I told her “You are very creative and talented.” She smiled back at me and said “Thank you, I don’t feel inspired like my other friends.” I told her that I could give her some ideas for her next activity if she was struggling. This student needed motivational and inspiring words, not all students will be this way.
                                                                  I think in a classroom environment the teacher has to be creative, smart and logical enough to know when to give rewards or praises to students. It is a balancing act, when you know how to work with each student and build their self-confidence, motivate and inspire them to achieve a goal.

                                                                  • Oct 28, 2013 7:42pm

                                                                    I believe a teacher should have a predetermined reward system, a system which is not directly conveyed to the students. Rewards should be given sparingly and only when students demonstrate they have acted upon their own initiative to go above and beyond what was expected. Rewards that are educationally based such as playing an educational game or fun brain teaser should be given more frequently than extrinsic rewards like candy or stickers.
                                                                    Praise should be given more frequently, but only when it is genuine. Praise can be given in the form of a nod, a pat on the shoulder, a note on an assignment. Praise should be specific. The student should know exactly why they are receiving praise. Praise is important for student growth and the praise received from an educator may be the only praise a student will receive. I believe as long as the praise is genuine, it will not become so frequent to develop dependency.

                                                                    • Oct 28, 2013 7:47pm

                                                                      In order to maintain balance in rewarding students, perhaps teachers should differentiate rewards given. Sometimes teachers could give public praise, sometimes give a prize (stickers), while at times giving private praise. Also, when earned praise is given sporadically it can prevent a constant need for it. For middle and high school students, I believe if rewards are too frequent, the reward or praise loses its value. Students can see right through phony praise, and truly desire to be challenged by their teachers. They can feel when they have exceeded expectations or when they have overcome an obstacle, and it encourages them when teachers acknowledge their achievement. By constantly challenging students, it helps them appreciate the intrinsic value of their work.

                                                                      • Oct 29, 2013 1:48pm

                                                                        I don't believe rewards should be handed out constantly to students. I see acknowledging students' accomplishments and rewarding students as two totally different concepts. I plan to acknowledge students when they do well and/or behave well, but won't always give actual rewards. I don't believe students should expect rewards, but instead consider them to be pleasant surprises when they're given. I hope to instill confidence in my students by the language I use on a daily basis, but won't give them constant praise. I believe acknowledging students who go above and beyond what's expecting is necessary, but not giving praise for average work.

                                                                        • Oct 29, 2013 2:13pm

                                                                          The best possible way to balance rewarding students for growth and success without creating a constant need for praise is to not over-exaggerate the praise and give it sparingly. If a teacher says "great job" for everything a student does, the child can become dependent on those words and expect it for even simple things that really dont' require praise or perhaps those words might not mean much of anything to a child who hears it at everything he/she does. Either way, a teachers should use wisdom when rewarding students.

                                                                          • Oct 29, 2013 4:44pm

                                                                            I believe giving praise to students is important in building their self esteem and helping them be proud of the work they are producing. However I think it must be done in moderation. If every action a student does receives a "good job!" the student is going to look for that in everything. Praise should be given when students have truly earned it. I will be teaching Early Childhood and I will give students praise a lot as younger children need the encouragement, but not for everything. If they have done an excellent job on an activity, helped another student, or made improvements on something, they deserve the kind words or reward.

                                                                            • Oct 29, 2013 6:17pm

                                                                              I believe that positive reinforcement is more powerful than negative reinforcement. And I believe that praising is much better than and kind of little gift or candy. I've done the treasure box thing and that is so quickly forgotten, but the praise of a job well done is rarely forgotten. And their smile lasts even longer in my mind. Although, I wouldn't want my students to constantly need praise, I do not think you can give them too much. School may be the only place they receive praise and I want to offer it whenever possible.

                                                                              • Oct 30, 2013 1:54pm

                                                                                I think balancing reward for students can be compared to a well balanced nutritious meal. I think some nurturing feedback is essential for growth when it is earned. On the other hand, overfeeding too much praise can be enabling for students. I think setting high enough academic standards and goals and following those standards and goals will help prevent praising students when it has not been deserved. However, I think students need praise from time to time for encouragement. I also think when I see students relying too much on approval, then it is time to give them the chance to figure it out on their own, so they can find independence. I think if this dependency shows up in the classroom, it is important for the teacher to communicate the objective for the students to find independence and self-sufficiency. Why not just tell them that it is important for them to learn this growth? If I were the student, I would want to know this is why the teacher is not praising me, and since I'm teaching high school, I think that age needs to be aware of the objective. I love this clip from YouTube by English teacher Jennifer Ho about Praising and Encouraging. She doesn't praise every class, but she uses it as the evaluative process and encouraging students. It gives a positive and enjoyable experience.

                                                                                For homework and grades, I think it should be private and not discuss grades out lout; however interactive work in the classroom, I think it can be important to articulate and communicate praise when it is deserved and needed.

                                                                                • Nov 1, 2013 8:07am

                                                                                  I balance reward without dependency by using Sea World's approach to Operant Conditioning. As a teenager and eventual university student in San Diego, I bought season passes to Sea World specifically to work behind the scenes with the animal behaviorists while they nurtured, praised, trained, and rewarded their highly-intelligent animal stars.

                                                                                  An essential part of Sea World's approach was in building an intimate relationship with their "trainee", often by simply watching their trainees at play. Many times, the animals would do unique behaviors by their own talents, and the trainers would simply, then, establish reinforcing rewards to encourage those particular behaviors. As the animals improved, the trainers would reduce the rewards and/or change them up to keep variety in the process.

                                                                                  Wild animals are still wild, and sometimes triggers would negatively influence an animal's behavior. Trainers would then "reset" the reward system and start anew (especially when the negative behavior led to catastrophe, such as the death of the trainer by a killer whale not too long ago). But the trust would be rebuilt along with the praise and reward system.

                                                                                  My students are wild at heart (like most humans) and are searching for appropriate parameters to recognize, nurture, and reward proper discipline and behavior. As students learn my reward system, they also learn that my expectations for their own maturity increase - and we collaborate to replace basic, regular extrinsic rewards with more meaningful, periodic, and intrinsic rewards. If a student reverts to immature behaviors, they now have further to work to achieve the rewards they'd recognized from before.

                                                                                  • Nov 1, 2013 6:46pm

                                                                                    With any job a positive, respectful relationship with coworkers makes all the difference. Sometimes creating this environment is extremely difficult. However, not everyone has the luxury of starting a job in this environment, that is not to say it can’t evolve into a great environment. But, creating this change takes work, the majority of which you have to do yourself. I believe that it’s difficult to say, “be the change you want to see.” Though, it is true. In order to improve an environment such as the one suggested, you have to have a positive outlook and have patience. And, if this isn’t enough to create a change, then, it may require a mature discussion about the situation but I would go about it in a manner that is not confrontational. However, if administration is not interfering with your classroom setting then I think it would easy to create a positive culture with students. All it takes is a mutual respect and an understanding of ground rules.

                                                                                    • Nov 1, 2013 6:03pm

                                                                                      I think there is something to be said for the use of extrinsic rewards in the classroom. For younger children, they are useful because they may not be able to grasp the "why" behind why they need to know what you are attempting to teach them, and offering a tangible incentive can motivate even the most disengaged child. Of course, there could be ways to implement a reward system without causing dependency on them. A good example could be a delayed incentive system: They could take a small reward at the end of each week, or get a token. They can save up the tokens for better and better rewards later on. This system does two things: 1- allows the student to choose when they receive the reward, which teaches cause and consequence. 2- it gives them a sense of accomplishment by just being able to save tokens up for however long. This method also helps to curb dependency. By allowing them to control the level of reward they receive, they will have the opportunity to be personally responsible for what they can receive. That, in and of itself, is instilling self control.

                                                                                      • Nov 1, 2013 6:06pm

                                                                                        I think that praise, and encouragement for students should be plentiful. Hard work should be acknowledged, especially since sometimes the people working the hardest still fall short of their goals. These kids in particular need to know that someone recognizes their effort. A little bit cheering for a teacher may be the only thing that keeps them trying. On the other side of the coin is my fear that rewarding students for studying and having good behavior is like giving your children an allowance for helping around the house. As a member of the family unit you have responsibilities. You shouldn’t expect payment for doing your part. The classroom is like a family unit each student is responsible for being well behaved and studying.

                                                                                        • Nov 1, 2013 7:12pm

                                                                                          I believe that it is essential to establish a set of rules that determines how students are rewarded. However, I think that verbal praise is very significant with high school students. Candy and movie days are great rewards periodically but actually identifying good acts a student has done can be more rewarding. The ability for a teacher to acknowledge and praise a good act a student has done and hadn’t even thought twice of doing can really boost their confidence. All in all, I think that teachers should focus on clearly articulating appreciation of a student’s deed. Periodically should a teacher use candy and other materialistic rewards but a clear set of rules should be established first and it is crucial that you stay consistent to these rules. If consistency is lacking, it could deter students from learning and may result in them focusing strictly on what they will do next to receive a reward.

                                                                                          • Nov 3, 2013 11:58am

                                                                                            I believe the best form of reinforcement is provided with the student's least expect it. Reinforcement for the small things such as pushing in their chairs, working without being prompted, and completing work quietly (or as designed) go a long way. Students want to know that they are being noticed for more than just turning in assignments.

                                                                                            I do not currently have a reward system in place, but I would like to do something like this going forward or at the beginning of the next semester. Students would be able to earn points to use for various reasons. I would also like for students to be able to reward points to students for various things.

                                                                                            The key would be keeping the mindset in check with balance. Students would have to understand that not every action receives a reward. An example of this would be rewarding a student for completing an assignment quietly. The norm in the classroom would be to complete the assignment quietly and just because a student is usually loud they would not receive points for one day of actually participating in the norm. Rather they could receive points for going above and beyond on the assignment or volunteering to explain it to the class or helping a student who is struggling.

                                                                                            • Nov 3, 2013 9:50pm

                                                                                              Creating a balance of rewarding students depends on each student as an individual. A teacher can set certain expectations for their students that encourages intrinsic satisfaction. For basic, routine homework assignments all students are rewarded the same by receiving a satisfactory grade. This way they don’t think that completing routine homework is something that they should be rewarded for but something that they should do because it’s expected. For tests and assignments that require creativity students should be rewarded extrinsically because that encourages them to continue to study hard or develop their own ideas. Also, if they do something out of the norm in the classroom they should be rewarded because it shows them and their classmates that you notice that they’re trying and their appreciated. By not rewarding for every little thing a dependency is not created.

                                                                                              • Mar 12, 2014 7:11pm

                                                                                                Rewards are good up to a point. At some point you want your students to act on their own without need of a reward. I think one of the most powerful things that we can do as teachers is to praise students. They do not all the time need an "atta boy" but for more students than we would hope we may be the only voice in their short lives telling them that they are smart, special, good, or successful. Many of them have so many negative voices that they hear day in and day out that it would not take much for our positive words of encouragement to stand out. It may be the one thing that they are able to hold on to.

                                                                                                Somehow I think that we must build our students confidence in their own ability so that it is less about a reward and more about the natural high that comes from seeing the fruit of their labor and their accomplishments.

                                                                                                We had a student come in to the office last week. He was ecstatic. His teacher had rewarded him with pizza due to his good behavior. This kid has struggled. He is extremely bright and has a tendency to disrupt the class. While he was excited about the pizza it was evident that his excitement was more about the realization that he had learned to control his outbursts and interact with his classmates in a more acceptable manner.

                                                                                                • Mar 12, 2014 8:37pm

                                                                                                  I think that the root of this problem is the need to keep challenging our students. We have to focus on building efficacy within our students and within the class as a whole. Careful consideration of the word choice used during praise is also important, but I find it less so than the student’s internal drive towards success. Making sure a student understands that they are being rewarded for the effort they did themselves is critical. This will help to curtail any sort of parasitic confidence issues between a student and his teacher. It seems very cruel to move the golden ring further and further away from a student, but it is our job to help prepare them for a challenging world. It is important to remember to be patient while increasing the level of difficulty a student will be facing in a new assignment and to increase the challenge incrementally. Lastly, we have to be kind and respectful while we push.

                                                                                                  • Mar 13, 2014 2:08am

                                                                                                    Rewarding and praising your students is a good thing, but there needs to be a balance. As a teacher, you shouldn’t just give rewards or praise for any and every little thing, because then it seems like your just throwing it out there and not being sincere. The student may begin to wonder if they really did a good job or think the teacher is just saying that, because he or she says it to everybody (they feel like they really didn’t do a good job). If the student begins to feel this way; then it takes away from the reasons why teachers praise students in the first place (to motivate them, build self-esteem, and so on). No, a teacher shouldn’t disregard the little things; but give due praise, and don’t overdo it. You don’t have to address every individual in a large group for something minor (just thank everyone in the class who did “x” when and how they were supposed to at the same time naming no one). Give individual praise where it is due.

                                                                                                    • Mar 13, 2014 6:21pm

                                                                                                      I believe that this a very tricky question but a situation that needs to be addressed. I honestly am not 100% sure what the correct answer is here. I feel as if I am still learning and trying to figure out what all will work and in what ways they should be done properly.
                                                                                                      When it comes to rewarding, I do think that this is something that should be done on a daily basis. However, I think the way it is done is what is important. To reward does not mean that the student has to be given a tangible prize. I have seen several teachers/classrooms use the "star" system (fill up a card with star stickers) and receive a prize once that student has met their personal goal. Of most systems used, I do like this one the best so far. I think that with this type of reward, the teacher is in control and able to monitor regularly. If there is a child that is having difficulties more often than others, then that teacher is able to lower the "goal" for that student so that it is a reachable prize/goal.
                                                                                                      With all this said, I also do not believe there is one thing wrong with allowing the student to be rewarded with a high five, thumbs up, or an "atta boy" every once and awhile either. By doing so, the student will know to not always expect a prize/sticker but instead, just be proud of what they did right by the recognition they receive.

                                                                                                      • Mar 14, 2014 10:50am

                                                                                                        This is an interesting question, I have witnessed first hand what can happen if students are eager for the reward and not knowledge that comes with it. I believe that we have to get the students to start associating the knowledge obtained as a reward. Now of course students need encouragement and rewards set up a positive feedback that enables them to receive satisfaction from learning. In my opinion verbal praise and positive written feedback can be a reward that inspires a child to continue to learn and eventually gaining the knowledge will be a positive reward in itself. Avoiding things like materialistic rewards or minimizing them to specific circumstances will help the child understand that they do not have to receive some item as a reward for personal growth. Exceptions could be where there is a game or contest that the class participates in and the winners receive some item (i.e. candy). This can be separated from everyday good behavior and learning, which can be praised verbally.

                                                                                                        • Mar 16, 2014 1:36pm

                                                                                                          Learning should be exciting and rewarding but student rewards should be earned. If students understand that a reward will only be given when they have accomplished something individually or as a team they should not expect them. And if students don’t expect rewards then they won’t get disappointed that did not receive something, they will be excited and encouraged to do well. I think that the purpose of rewarding is to show students that hard work and dedication will pay off and through rewarding students should be shown this. Rewards do not always have to be tangible items but could be a high five, thumbs up, a smile. Each class will be different, I think the most important thing is for a teacher to get to know his/her students so they will know how to meet their students needs without making them become dependent on rewards.

                                                                                                          • Mar 17, 2014 6:04pm

                                                                                                            I studied behaviorism a bit for another class and what I read recommended the use of intermittent reinforcement. When you are introducing a new standard, students may require frequent reinforcement. As time progresses, students should be expected to meet expectations without reinforcement, but you also don't want students to think that you are not aware of their accomplishments. Continual reinforcement could easily create a dependency. Stopping reinforcement all together could cause the students to stop their new behavior. With intermittent reinforcement, the hope is that students will perform to expectations regularly because they don't know when it may benefit them (in terms of a reward).

                                                                                                            • Mar 18, 2014 12:11pm

                                                                                                              I think rewards in the form of verbal praise and written on their papers can be an effective confidence booster. It seems that students get dependent on rewards when the rewards are material. Although I think material rewards can be effective if used extremely sparingly. You could reward students with material things to get their attention and then afterwards randomly/haphazardly give out material rewards while decreasing the frequency. These material rewards should always be coupled with verbal/written rewards. They will eventually understand that they will not always get the reward they desire (material), but it seems that people will go through all of the motions even when chance of reward is low (e.g. lottery!). If you are focused on learning as the primary activity being rewarded, you could focus on giving bigger rewards (material) to really well thought out answers or higher level thinking, and avoid rewarding mediocre outcomes. If particular students are "brains" and constantly meet your answering criteria, then you can still go with the decreases in frequency.

                                                                                                              • Mar 18, 2014 4:50pm

                                                                                                                I've usually been pretty good at verbal praise, but rarely do I offer any kind of other kinds of rewards. However, recently I realized that this is not a good approach, but since it's not in my nature to provide those sorts of rewards (Most of the time, I'm intrinsically motivated so I'm not sure how to provide extrinsic rewards without creating dependency), I've begun testing the waters with small rewards that are contingent on group success. For instance, in one class, I told them that if they averaged an 80% on the upcoming chapter test, I would allow them to pick their next set of groups. This was something that had asked for so I offered it to them on conditions that I thought would be reasonable. Another class was offered a pizza party if at least 13 of the 22 students get a C on the next test. That felt like betting the house before looking at my cards, but I've been so desperate to motivate that class that I figured I should just go all out.

                                                                                                                Neither of those rewards are gonna create too much dependency. There is a financial obstacle for one of them, and I think after picking their own groups, the other class will realize it's not that great of an option.

                                                                                                                • Mar 18, 2014 6:25pm

                                                                                                                  As a teacher, you must strike a balance between giving well-deserved rewards and praise and just giving rewards and praise for the sake of giving them. I would use a pre-established reward system to give students goals to work toward. For example, everyone would start out on Ready to Learn. Their actions would determine if they move up the scale for rewards or down the scale for consequences. Moving up and down the scale would be at my discretion and would not occur at every little good or negative thing that is done and not everyone may move up and down for the same actions. For example, if one student has really struggled with a rule and has made good improvements in that area, then they would deserve to move up. However, another student may not struggle in that area and may not need to move up for that action. I would base my choices on who moves up and down the chart on each individual child.

                                                                                                                  • Mar 18, 2014 6:49pm

                                                                                                                    Praise is a part of our everyday life; however, the end result depends on how you praise and why you are praising the child. I think it depends on the praise you are using. If a student is usually portraying behavior problems and you praise him only when he does something good, then that is what he expects; however, if you use praise that is specific and it improves a child success then I believe that is effective. Praising is not bad, but when we use it only to get a peace of mind or a child to act right, then the praise is not effective and the end result will probably be short term.
                                                                                                                    In Effective- you did great
                                                                                                                    Effective- I noticed you spent a lot of time on your art work. You added some very appealing designs to make your picture very beautiful.

                                                                                                                    • Mar 19, 2014 6:30am

                                                                                                                      Most importantly, I don't think students should constantly be given physical rewards (candy, prizes) or bonus points each time they do something correctly. This does build dependency. I also think teacher should be cautious about freely giving verbal praise. If students become accustomed to always receiving verbal praise, they will have a sense of failure when they do no receive ample praise from the teacher. I think it is important for students to feel like it is okay if they do not answer every question correctly. Students need to feel like it is safe to make mistakes. If students are dependent upon praise and rewards then they will always take the safer route in learning and they will avoid taking risks that would lead to deeper learning.

                                                                                                                      I think the best thing that teachers can do is provide constructive criticism. It is more beneficial to students if they are made aware of areas that need improvement. This does not mean that all feedback needs to be negative. On the contrary, a teacher might begin by pointing out the areas where the student did well, and then move on to areas that need improvement. This will give students the framework to make improvements and to move forward in their learning. If constructive criticism is used rather than rewards, students will learn to seek deeper understanding and feel more comfortable to take risks.

                                                                                                                      • Mar 19, 2014 8:07am

                                                                                                                        Kayla Eddings

                                                                                                                        I think the key may be unpredictability. Perhaps the unpredictable nature of how and when a teacher offers rewards will keep students from falling into the dependency trap of earning rewards. Letting students know that rewards are possible for things like being engaged, paying attention, staying on task, showing improvement, doing a job well done and so on, but not giving them specific instances of how they can earn rewards will allow the teacher to apply rewards randomly and immediately. Students will learn from observation that overall good performance is appreciated and rewarded in class; this may then give them motivation without the set reward being dangled in front of them. I believe students do respond positively to being rewarded and with the unpredictability of how and when then teachers may be able to offset student dependency and the need for constant and increasing rewards.

                                                                                                                        • Mar 19, 2014 9:19am

                                                                                                                          For me, I always liked receiving a verbal praise. Something as simple as good job when I answered a question correctly, always made me feel like I did something correct. For children any age, they want that feeling of accomplishment. It's honestly a tough question though when you think about it. My teachers did not always say good job or anything but when they did I immediately felt better. The balancing of rewards for growth and success without creating a sense of dependency is a very thin line. When I am a teacher, I will provide verbal praises to my students. Some students (at least where I grew up) only hear praises when it comes from a teacher. If a student never hears a praise from a teacher nor from a parent, that student will inevitably feel worthless and have low self esteem. However, I also do not want my students to need that praise in order to do well because what happens when I am no longer their teacher? How will they grow then?

                                                                                                                          For children in elementary, they love receiving cute stickers on homework assignments that say good job. I know I would always work harder to get that sticker on an assignment. When I moved to high school, I enjoyed when a teacher said good job, but I didn't have to work hard to receive that praise. So, in order to balance that very fine line, I believe, it is best to only provide rewards when the students are trying their hardest and being behaved. Instead of only providing rewards when things are perfect or to the same students constantly, teachers should share the rewards equally. For example, a teacher may have a student that has a problem being still. When she notices the child being still, she can simply walk by his/her desk, place her hand on top of the desk and say excellent work today. Something that small would not make that child dependent on receiving the praise, however, it might make that child smile or feel happy for the time being. As a result, he may start trying to be still and pay attention more often.

                                                                                                                          In short, [I do not believe] we as teachers do not and will not ever know whether or not a student is working hard to do right on work or just in general for the rewards or simply because they want to do right. But, in order to balance the different possibilities out, I think, it is best to share the rewards and be aware of what the students are doing.

                                                                                                                          • Mar 19, 2014 10:07am

                                                                                                                            Trying to find the balance between providing extrinsic motivation while also cultivating intrinsic motivation can be challenging and critical to student success. My experience going to multiple public schools was mostly extrinsic motivation in the form of good grades. I enjoyed going to school and learning various subjects but my main focus was grades. We didn’t have much money and my two older siblings excelled in school. From a fairly early age my mother was pragmatic with me and made clear that if I wished to pursue higher education I would need to earn an academic scholarship or pay my way with loans and grants. Both older siblings received full scholarships to college so my approach to school may have been affected by that. In that way, grades became an intrinsic motivation for me. Simply put, if I didn’t excel in class I was going to have to find a way to finance my own education after high school.

                                                                                                                            I think the best way to avoid over reliance on extrinsic rewards is to know your students. By having a good relationship with your students you will know what motivates them and act accordingly. Most students simply aren’t interested in every aspect of the subject you are teaching. By molding lesson plans around your student’s interests, they will respond to the method in which they learn. Allowing an artistic student to draw examples or graphs explaining an economic system would be an example.

                                                                                                                            • Mar 20, 2014 8:52am

                                                                                                                              I think the best way to reward students for success and growth is to praise them, but let the praise not be so frequent that they come to depend on it. The idea would be to save the praise so that when they have done something that is truly outstanding they would get a verbal reward or, depending on the student and assignment, an extrinsic reward. If you give these to students too often they begin to look to you for approval for everything; if they are constantly searching for your approval, then they have no time to do the work on their own and you, as the teacher, will not be able to see where they are, academically. Most importantly, you do not want your students to look so fully for your approval that they begin to doubt themselves. If you give them too much praise early on, you will be stuck doing it the rest of the year and you do not want to send a student to the next grade level constantly depending on that approval.

                                                                                                                              • Mar 20, 2014 8:53am

                                                                                                                                I think the best way to reward students for success and growth is to praise them, but let the praise not be so frequent that they come to depend on it. The idea would be to save the praise so that when they have done something that is truly outstanding they would get a verbal reward or, depending on the student and assignment, an extrinsic reward. If you give these to students too often they begin to look to you for approval for everything; if they are constantly searching for your approval, then they have no time to do the work on their own and you, as the teacher, will not be able to see where they are, academically. Most importantly, you do not want your students to look so fully for your approval that they begin to doubt themselves. If you give them too much praise early on, you will be stuck doing it the rest of the year and you do not want to send a student to the next grade level constantly depending on that approval.

                                                                                                                                • Mar 20, 2014 9:55am

                                                                                                                                  I think the best way to reward students for success and growth is to praise them, but let the praise not be so frequent that they come to depend on it. The idea would be to save the praise so that when they have done something that is truly outstanding they would get a verbal reward or, depending on the student and assignment, an extrinsic reward. If you give these to students too often they begin to look to you for approval for everything; if they are constantly searching for your approval, then they have no time to do the work on their own and you, as the teacher, will not be able to see where they are, academically. Most importantly, you do not want your students to look so fully for your approval that they begin to doubt themselves. If you give them too much praise early on, you will be stuck doing it the rest of the year and you do not want to send a student to the next grade level constantly depending on that approval.

                                                                                                                                  • Mar 20, 2014 11:29am

                                                                                                                                    I think that verbal praise is more effective than handing out prizes on a regular basis. Also, praise should be evenly distributed in the classroom. If one student is doing better in the class than everyone else, praise should be given to encourage those who are not doing as well and build their confidence in what they do know. Another way to reward students without causing dependency would be a point system that students would earn certain privileges as a class for extras such as a game day or special projects.

                                                                                                                                    • Mar 21, 2014 4:10pm

                                                                                                                                      This question, I believe can be tied in with the other question for this assignment, "Specifically, how can a teacher assert himself or herself in establishing a positive culture of respect and learning in a school that (unfortunately) has apathetic, belligerent, or an otherwise incompetent administration?"

                                                                                                                                      If a teacher has positive control of a classroom, there might possibly not be a need for any kind of reward system. If a teacher can get students to respect them as a teacher and be a part of a positive culture, rewards will not be required except the occasional "good job", where it's needed.

                                                                                                                                      • Mar 22, 2014 8:22am

                                                                                                                                        The trend that I see in our culture today is that no one does things they are supposed to do for the simple fact that that is what they are supposed to do. Everyone wants to be rewarded for things they are supposed to be doing in the first place.

                                                                                                                                        I feel like the best way to work against this trend is for teachers to make the reward less extrinsic-focused and more intrinsic-directed. What I mean is that the more the “reward” is the content learned and the personal growth achieved and not some outside resource from the teacher the more students will achieve based on the high they get from achievement. When a student can finally grasps the concept that the content or skill learned is the reward then it’s a self-motivating reward cycle. Once students achieve for the reward of achieving then our job is much easier. The way we can balance this as educators is to not make the reward the main focus. Sometimes we want to overemphasize the reward at hand and not take the time to explain why the content is the real reward. Inspiration is the key.

                                                                                                                                        • Mar 22, 2014 10:04am

                                                                                                                                          I teach level 1 and am usually told and reminded of the fine line between reward and incentive ! Honestly it confuses me as i feel every effort should be appreciated esp by tge smart ones we have ! Then what about the ones who dobt make an effort ..... tgats what i am asked ???

                                                                                                                                          • Mar 22, 2014 11:49am

                                                                                                                                            Although it is good to reward students for good behavior or good work ethic it can sometimes pose a problem between students and teachers, with some students thinking that they are always supposed to get a reward for doing the right thing. A good way to balance this within the classroom is to perhaps chose rewards initially and slowly move down to smaller rewards until there are no rewards for behavior other than verbal praise which will allow the students to know that there may not be a great reward for every good thing, but they are still recognized for their good behavior.

                                                                                                                                            • Mar 22, 2014 1:06pm

                                                                                                                                              Students need positive reinforcement, and setting up a behavior chart with rewards is a great way to manage classroom behavior. I believe with this system a student will begin to self assess overtime and not require as many material rewards. A teacher can begin with more rewards and slowly change the amount of material rewards and add more verbal praise.
                                                                                                                                              One way I have found to reduce the student's dependence on praise, verbal or material, is by setting them up in groups. When students are in groups they will monitor each others behavior and help each other behave well. They no longer are dependent on toys, candy, or verbal praise, although I believe verbal praise should still be used to create a positive classroom community.

                                                                                                                                              Patricia Tate

                                                                                                                                              • Mar 22, 2014 5:16pm

                                                                                                                                                I think that balancing rewards for students has a lot to do with the age group of kids and where each of them is individually. In my preschool class we have a star chart. At any time, kids can get a star for good behavior but they can also get one taken away for making bad choices. This makes the kids better understand that they are responsible for their actions. However, the kids who have a hard time ever earning a star sometimes need that extra praise and encouragement. Catching a “tough” child doing something good and praising them specifically for that action goes a long way to reinforce positive behavior.

                                                                                                                                                For older kids, I think a good idea would be to have them create their own goals within the classroom. This could include short-term and long-term goals. That way when they reach a goal the real reward they are getting is the satisfaction of having accomplished something on their own.

                                                                                                                                                • Mar 22, 2014 7:57pm

                                                                                                                                                  Give praise only when it is deserved. If I student truly tried his or her hardest, and is making improvement, than it is important to take note of this behavior and encourage it. Giving praise when a student has not tried their hardest will tell them that the best is not necessary and perhaps they can try less hard next time and still get praise. Praising all students on a few students good work will create a dependency situation where they depend on others for their own praise. Give praise only when you, as a teacher, truly mean it. Saying good job at the end of each class will take away from its effectiveness and students will either not hear it anymore or come to expect it and think they did something wrong if you don't say if everyday.

                                                                                                                                                  • Mar 23, 2014 11:45am

                                                                                                                                                    Rewarding students for their success in class is more important today than ever before. Many high school students are surrounded by negativity from their parents, the media, and their peers. However, some live the "perfect life" with no worries, socially, academically, or financially. It is our job as teachers to identify those students who may need more positive feedback early on. Each student is different and should be treated as such. A successful day for one student may be bringing their materials to class. Success for another student may be making an A on a test. One of the more difficult jobs for teachers is identifying what success is for each and every student. Should I praise the student each time who knows every answer? Should I praise the student who tries to sleep everyday for just staying awake?

                                                                                                                                                    There is a delicate balance between enough praise and too much. Praise them too much and this becomes the only motivation for students. However, everyone enjoys being right and knowing the correct answer. Teachers should build off of this internal motivation for every student. I don't think there is one blanket answer to achieving this balance. It's one of the things that make our job difficult.

                                                                                                                                                    • Mar 23, 2014 3:24pm

                                                                                                                                                      I think that whether or not praise leads to dependency depends on the type of praise that is given and if it specifically relates to the student. The goal should be to provide support, not judgment. Rather than just providing judgments such as “You are very good at….” or “Excellent work“, I find that recognizing specifics about the what the student has accomplished allows them to understand how they did well and that they are going in the right direction. Also, get to know how they feel about what they have accomplished, and they will most likely provide some insight about the things in which they need help so that we can further support their efforts. Rather than just recognizing what they have already accomplished, we should understand where they want to go and that we support them.

                                                                                                                                                      • Mar 23, 2014 4:11pm

                                                                                                                                                        After much reading and self reflecting on this question, I have drawn the following conclusions about balancing growth and success without creating dependency. First of all, praise and encouragement will always....always be apart of my classroom. It may not be directly related to a students academic progress but I will find something to praise and encourage them for. I believe that this is important to each and every individual whether they acknowledge it or not. For some students it could be the only source of encouragement that they receive in their lives, so I strongly believe this is a must. Next, rules and expectations must be extremely clear and no rewards are given for meeting an expectation. When a student achieves a new goal whether in behavior or knowledge, then a reward is given. That reward will be in whatever form the student chooses. It could be candy, extra computer time, pencils, homework pass whatever rewards have been preset by the teacher. I believe by allowing the student to make a choice you are reinforcing empowerment. With all that being said, I still understand that teaching is about learning and unlearning what works best in your community.

                                                                                                                                                        • Mar 23, 2014 5:19pm

                                                                                                                                                          Dependency comes about by having support or help in completing a particular task. Students do need rewarding, such as a praise or small prize. To prevent creating a desperate dependency on these reinforcements, however, the teacher has to be careful in choosing what actions need reinforcement the most. The success of the student will come once he or she learns to function without having receiving rewards frequently or at all. Growth will need the practice of reinforcements to develop the success. They go hand in hand, but it is essential to know when to stop constant rewarding. It will depend on the situation and student. Students are unique and will have a different timeline as to when growth and success are reached. Overall, there can be a plan of action to where a teacher will know if he or she has gone too far with giving rewards to reach the growth and success of the student, but it will depend solely on how that particular student receives and digests the rewards that are to bring forth the growth and success of learning and behavior.

                                                                                                                                                          • Mar 23, 2014 7:22pm

                                                                                                                                                            I am a firm believer that all students deserve praise, but I also know that some students only want the praise and don't really care about the work. If we praise students for good grades or behavior, it can become unfair to those that try their best and still fall short compared to the ones who always reach classroom standards. I believe that true praise should go to those that achieve personal achievements. If a student always gets A's, maybe they need a bigger challenge, and praised when they reach a new goal. For other students, they should be praised when they do their personal best, even if that is a C. Praise for personal achievements will cause students to push themselves to do their best every day.

                                                                                                                                                            • Mar 31, 2014 9:11am

                                                                                                                                                              Mutual respect demonstrated by acknowledgement in the classroom while maintaining a balance of focus evenly, including all of the students. Try to find an element of validity in all answers, then connect the pieces of two or more to the best answer. Always mention the assists of the students who contributed. An after class reinforcement as students leave helps those who are shy of the spotlight.

                                                                                                                                                              • Jun 4, 2014 12:25pm

                                                                                                                                                                Rewarding a behavior comes in many forms - verbal praise, tickets, character coins, etc. I have found that students with whom I have dealt thrive on verbal praise, but a little extra praise in another form always helps. Praise and rewards should not be given for expected good behavior, in my opinion, but for exceptionally good behavior. I expect my students to respect one another, to follow rules, and to perform as well as they can on assignments. An occasional reward for that is ok, but good behavior is an expectation. There are times, though, when I reward good and expected behavior. An example of this is when one or two students work diligently on morning work (usually before the bell rings) while the rest of the class is not engaged in doing morning work. I reward the students who are quietly completing their work with a good character certificate, which is placed on the bulletin board in the hallway and makes the student eligible for a $10 gift card drawing at the end of the month. It's amazing how quiet the rest of the class becomes when they see the certificates handed out. And I never have to say a word. They learn that good behavior has its own reward. Just to clarify, the ones who are talking are not out of line, they are simply visiting when they could be doing their work during a time that is not officially school work time.

                                                                                                                                                                • Jun 7, 2014 3:17am

                                                                                                                                                                  I use a sliding behavior system that encourages Living Above the Line (Quantum Learning). We have 8 keys of excellence we teach schoolwide. Integrity, failure leads to success, speak with good purpose, this is it, commitment, ownership, flexibility, balance. I teach these keys to my Kindergarteners. They can move their clip up or down a chart but always have an opportunity to correct the behavior. More than behavior risk taking in learning gets a hop up. They all start on Green (ready to learn).. Going up is gaining power, ready to fly, and super learner status. Down is think about it, losing power, powerless. When they get to super learner they get to go to the office for a prize and name on the announcements. I often will pick a strategy I taught and if they apply it in their work they get a hop up. Many wi take a chance once they see others hopping up and then they use the skill on a regular basis. I am changing all the time what earns a hop up. I never hop down for taking a risk but not doing it correctly. Hop downs are for classroom rules not being followed. I used to have a sticker, then candy, and prize box for rewards but eliminated that and have better internal motivation and less expense. This creates a culture where it is okay to make mistakes. We learn from every mistake.

                                                                                                                                                                  • Jun 16, 2014 2:23pm

                                                                                                                                                                    Praising students and invididually appreciating them are two different things, I will choose to do the latter, not the former, in my future classrooms. I do not yet have a classroom, so the more I thought about this question, the more I wondered, would I be damaging my students by giving out expected rewards? Since I also have not been blessed with any children of my own, I turned to the previous comments to this question and to the internet for insight into this issue. I came upon an insightful article entitled "Rewards and Praise: The Poisoned Carrot" written by Robin Grille on a website called the Natural Child Project. (
                                                                                                                                                                    Grille raised some interesting points in her article and I would like to discuss these in my response to this question, if I may? (If not, I would like to reserve my right to re-answer this question before its due date.) Therefore, for reasons we will discuss below, I do not believe I will be praising my future students; however, I will seek to show them as much individual appreciation as I have time to.

                                                                                                                                                                    THE DRAWBACKS OF PRAISING STUDENTS:

                                                                                                                                                                    Grille takes the position that reward systems are, in the long run, ineffective. I agree with her, reward systems are ineffective. Grille states "The use of praise or rewards does not make children feel supported. It makes them feel evaluated and judged." Grille argues that giving rewards to children/ students has the following specific, negative impacts:

                                                                                                                                                                    (1) rewards hold back the student's ability to be self-motivated because the student seeks approval and ends up only doing things to impress [the teacher] instead of doing things for his or herself;

                                                                                                                                                                    (2) Praising student's potential does them more harm than good and seduces children to work harder to impress us, at the expense of their own self-esteem;

                                                                                                                                                                    (3) "Rewarding children's compliance is the flip-side of punishing their disobedience.";

                                                                                                                                                                    (4) The use of praise or rewards does not make children feel supported. It makes them feel evaluated and judged.;

                                                                                                                                                                    (5) The more insightful children can see right through manipulation and praise and rewards, like flattery, can stink of our efforts to control, and lose our child's respect;

                                                                                                                                                                    (6) Praise can create resistance because it impinges on a developing sense of autonomy;

                                                                                                                                                                    (7) "Rewards punish, because the child is denied the reward, praise or approval unless he or she "comes up with the goods". Moreover, the child who is used to being praised begins to feel inadequate if the praise doesn't come. Nothing feels more defeating to a child than to miss out on a reward that he or she had been conditioned to expect. Inside every carrot, there is a stick."
                                                                                                                                                                    (8) Bribery for good behavior leads to dishonesty in children at early ages that continue into adulthood. Grille explains this is because "as a result of early manipulation, we grow up trying hard to please, or we learn to use our wiles to impress, in order to get the goodies - at the expense of being our natural selves. We develop a phony or false self that distorts our relationships with others."

                                                                                                                                                                    (9) Rewards or prizes for "good" performance are a threat to co-operation or collaboration because they create rivalry among peers in the classroom and siblings at home; and,

                                                                                                                                                                    (10) Praise can make children feel robbed. which takes away from their good feelings about themselves--over praise from a teacher or parent can act as rain on their picnic. Some children refuse to produce what they are naturally good at, because they are repulsed by their teacher's or parents' gloating.

                                                                                                                                                                    APPRECIATION IS DIFFERENT:

                                                                                                                                                                    Luckily, appreciation is not a reward or praise! Grille gives a few suggestions for how to acknowledge and encourage your students to your heart's content - and theirs - while avoiding the use of praise.

                                                                                                                                                                    (1) Focus the child on his/her own pleasure at achieving.
                                                                                                                                                                    Instead of lavishing children with congratulations, It is better if a teacher focuses internally on the pleasure the student derived from the accomplishment instead of lavishing the student with rewards and congratulations. This is because children are naturally thirsty to achieve, learn and conquer.

                                                                                                                                                                    (2) Help your students to self-evaluate, whenever possible, asking them: "how do you like your drawing?", "are you happy with how that piece fits into the puzzle?".

                                                                                                                                                                    (3) Ask your students about their inner experiences in order nourish their self-esteem, and enrich your relationship with them/

                                                                                                                                                                    (4) Use "I" statements, instead of labeling the child.
                                                                                                                                                                    Your appreciation touches your student more deeply when it is expressed in terms of your feelings.

                                                                                                                                                                    (5) Comment on the behavior, not on the person and be specific on what behavior you enjoyed that the student exhibited.

                                                                                                                                                                    Grille's article was very insightful into how I was raised to think about "rewards" for grades, etc. I definitely see her point (and the previous commentators to this question's points) on the negative drawbacks of giving expected rewards and praise for good behavior. I agree with Grille's thoughts on giving individualized, student-focused appreciation as being separate and apart from giving students praise and awards for good behavior. And, individually appreciating students is what I will seek to do in my future classrooms, not rewarding them.


                                                                                                                                                                    Mandy N. Meadors

                                                                                                                                                                    • Jun 18, 2014 5:51am

                                                                                                                                                                      All students need some type of praise. Whether it's a nod, a 'good job' or somthing a simple as a smile. I don't think that we need to go to the extreme of rewarding students for everything that they do with toys, stickers and parties, otherwise they become dependent on it and expect it. I do believe small rewards have their place in the younger grades, k-3. However, they should be used in moderation.

                                                                                                                                                                      As students get older, 4-6 grades, theydo not need to be rewarded with 'things'. I do like the idea and I plan to use it in my class, of rewarding my student on friday for good behavior. If they have had good behavior all week and we have finished our lesson for the week, they will be allowed to choose from 3-4 educational activities to do (fun games, work a puzzle, etc.). This may not happen every week. It will just depend on our schedule and their behaviour.

                                                                                                                                                                      I feel that as students get to the higher grades 7-12, they still need just as much praise for their accomplishments, if not more. Teachers still need to reward them in some way. Do they need the rewards as often, probably not. I've also noticed that the older students get, the happier they are with smaller things.

                                                                                                                                                                      • Jun 18, 2014 8:20am

                                                                                                                                                                        In a world where entitlement is becoming more and more of an issue, with both children and adults, I feel that we should move away from using extrinsic rewards and move toward more intrinsic rewards. Entitled children can become very dependent on the extrinsic rewards given by a teacher and really never get to feel the sense of gratification for a job well done. I have experienced this first hand in classes at the elementary level while subbing in other teachers classrooms. Most teachers will leave good directions regarding a reward system, so I knew what to reward. The reward for this class was given at the end of the day. I was told at lunch to let the students know where they stood regard to their possible reward. One student had lost the reward us because he had not done his morning work and yelled at another student. He came up to me and asked if he could earn it back in the afternoon. According to the directions, I was supposed to do this if the behavior was much better. I told him he could if he made good choices in the afternoon. He did show some improvement but still had behavior issues off and on. I praised him once for a good example he gave in the class and he immediately asked if he could get the reward; I really do not even think he understood or reflected on the praise he received from me. I told him that I did not know yet, but his behavior was going to keep him from getting it. Later he asked if he was going to get the reward because he had told another student thank you. This child became obsessed with announcing every good thing he did. He was not able to focus on getting work done in the class room because he was too worried about getting the reward. He had become dependent on getting the reward. He did not because work was not done and he had pushed another student down to get to the broom because he was too focused on the prize of showing me that he was willing to help others so that he could get his reward back.

                                                                                                                                                                        In my classroom, I will use more intrinsic rewards like praise, smiles, nods, thumbs up. Since I will be teaching a literacy class, I plan on ending the week with a journal reflection about what the student accomplished that week and how that accomplishment made them feel. This will be a good way to help the students value what they are doing and help to improve their self-esteem in the classroom.

                                                                                                                                                                        • Jun 18, 2014 7:23pm

                                                                                                                                                                          I think it is very important to find balance in this situation. Rewarding students, whether it is for improvement in behavior or performance, is an important part of building their confidence. It teaches them that it is important to try even if you may fail and that their work effort is being acknowledged. Although I believe you should reward students you certainly do not want them to become dependent upon receiving praise or some type of incentive. I believe that teachers should give different types of rewards periodically. For instance, teachers should not give tangible rewards every day because students will look to be given something every day. However, I think that verbal rewards are exceptional. You do not have to go own and own about what the student did, but a simple "good job" or "way to go" can go a long way, especially for a student that needs to build their confidence.

                                                                                                                                                                          • Jun 19, 2014 4:53am

                                                                                                                                                                            you do not need to do give them anything they can reward themselves by succeeding

                                                                                                                                                                            • Jun 19, 2014 4:55am

                                                                                                                                                                              I do not like the word gimme it is not a word give me is a word

                                                                                                                                                                              • Jun 19, 2014 12:44pm

                                                                                                                                                                                I believe that rewarding students for involvement and success inside the classroom is very important in the participation and work ethic a child will develop for themselves and their teachers. However, I have personally seen the "ugly" side of this where children crave the attention and love knowing they got an answer to a question right and another student did not. Or better grade score. Or paper. Etc. Etc. Etc. I think what I would try to install in my classroom would be a reward system that would slowly fade over time. For instance, maybe reward the student initially with extra points, homework pass, etc. then if the student continues to grow and achieve success, try and dwindle my praise down to a smile, a "good job," or a relatively minor praise that allows the student to know I am proud of them without them feeling a need to have a reward. Another option would be to space out rewards to which a child would not know for sure when he or she would be rewarded for success. I believe this would break any routine a child might expect out of a teacher and hinder the constant dependency they might develop. Also I would try and only reward a child in front of the other students if I felt it was absolutely necessary for class involvement. Otherwise, I would prefer to subtly tell reward a child as to not embarrass or single out any child redundantly. Kids are not always the nicest and being labeled a "teacher's pet" could be harmful to a child.

                                                                                                                                                                                • Jun 19, 2014 5:37pm

                                                                                                                                                                                  I think that a good balance would be to first have different awards so it isn't the same thing every time. For instance, don't always give stickers out because stickers will get old and students will sometimes lose interest. If they have a sense of mystery in the award, it will make students want to be better because they're getting something they don't necessarily know about. Also, don't let everyone have the award at the same time and don't give it out every day. Students will have to go above and beyond rather than what is expected. It can also depend on the child. Fair isn't always equal.

                                                                                                                                                                                  • Jun 19, 2014 5:39pm

                                                                                                                                                                                    I think that a good balance would be to first have different awards so it isn't the same thing every time. For instance, don't always give stickers out because stickers will get old and students will sometimes lose interest. If they have a sense of mystery in the award, it will make students want to be better because they're getting something they don't necessarily know about. Also, don't let everyone have the award at the same time and don't give it out every day. Students will have to go above and beyond rather than what is expected. It can also depend on the child. Fair isn't always equal.

                                                                                                                                                                                    • Jun 19, 2014 5:58pm

                                                                                                                                                                                      My background is primarily business. After years of studying business and working, leading, and managing multiple levels of employees, I have found that rewarding employees is simply as easy as saying "Thank You". I did a research paper back in my undergraduate studies on "Is Money a Motivator". I was actually shocked at the results. Research had shown that money was not a motivator for most employees. The majority of employees preferred satisfaction over money. Working with employees over the past 20 years, I have found that the majority of employees that have stayed with the company (that I work for) the longest, were not the ones that made the most money, but the ones who have been treated fairly, with respect, and were told "Thank You".

                                                                                                                                                                                      This is the theory that I plan to carry with me into the classroom. There will always be the handful of people or students that cannot be pleased or satisfied no matter how hard you try, but the point is to keep trying. Dr. Mills said in class on Monday night, that you try to reach that one student who you really think doesn't get it, and then all the other students will really "get it". I feel that by treating student with respect, holding them to your own high expectations, and telling them "Thank You" with an occasional smiley face on their paper goes a long way. I don't believe you should go overboard, but praise them when they do right, encourage them along the way, and tell them awesome job when they do great! This may just be all of the motivation and reward they need to continue to exceed your expectations of them!

                                                                                                                                                                                      • Jun 20, 2014 12:17pm

                                                                                                                                                                                        I read a really great article on reward systems that had suggestions for rewards that worked well for other teachers. I shared this article as a discussion on Google + if anyone is interested in reading it. Although I do not like the idea of students having a constant need for extrinsic rewards, I agree that praise and reward systems can be very motivating. My pre-kindergarten students respond well to praise. I can often correct the behavior of one student by praising another. For example, by saying, "I like the way John is sitting quietly on the carpet." I can usually get all of the students to sit quietly. I realize this may be ineffective in older grades, but definitely does not cause a constant need for praise in my classroom. Positive feedback is very important for my young students. They have limited school experience and therefore are still figuring out what is expected of them in a classroom setting. When they work hard on something, I tell them that I noticed. I have found that reward systems work well with my students and my own children when these systems are set up appropriately. If you have a good reward system set with clear guidelines your students should (hopefully) not have a case of the Gimmes.

                                                                                                                                                                                        • Jun 20, 2014 2:05pm

                                                                                                                                                                                          The balance of rewarding students for growth and success is basic on how teachers reward their students daily. I feel sometime you have to give them tangible things but to offsite real life we have to give verbal, nonverbal rewards or none at all. When students make good choices, answer a question right, or even do good deeds these are some examples of the rewards I like to use, Hi Five, tell students to pat themselves on the back, kiss your brain. Trying some of these rewards will help teach them not to always look for something tangible. Sometime, I make the choice not to reward them at all for the things. These are just some ways I use to work at not creating a sense of dependency.

                                                                                                                                                                                          • Jun 20, 2014 6:44pm

                                                                                                                                                                                            I don't think giving candy, soft drinks, or other treats are good ways to reward individual students-- especially for good behavior (which should be expected). I do think praising students on such things as their work ethic, quality of their work, classroom participation, and willingness to step out of their "comfort zones" is absolutely appropriate and necessary to boost the morale of students and motivate them to continue doing well in class. Of course, what we want is to reinforce the intrinsic reward of learning lessons well and achieving goals. For elementary and perhaps even lower middle school classes a strategy of allowing students to earn points or "class cash" for good behavior to be spent on special rewards seems to be a good idea. Students could use their reward points/ "class cash" for privileges like being the first in line for lunch, having lunch with the teacher, being the teacher's helper for the day and similar rewards. To encourage good classroom behavior in general I believe making the entire class accountable as a team motivates everyone to do well if the reward is something everyone is interested in working toward. An example of such rewards could be a certain amount of "preferred activity time" granted on Fridays. The time could either be increased, decreased or taken away all together depending on overall classroom behavior. This makes students accountable to each other. I think the bottom line is that teachers can't reward a student with "stuff" for every little accomplishment, especially normal, expected behavior. This just sets up a cycle of dependency and ultimately leaves the student dissatisfied and perhaps unmotivated.

                                                                                                                                                                                            • Jun 20, 2014 8:59pm

                                                                                                                                                                                              I believe that rewarding and praising students is an important part of helping them learn the types of behaviors and products that are expected and desirable. However, if rewards become a regular and expected part of the classroom culture, students develop a dependency on the reward rather than seeking the behavior or product/outcome through an established intrinsic motivation. I believe that a good way to counteract this is by using more subtle motivation and praise techniques. The occasional sticker or other material reward has its place along with more pointed and public praise, but I plan to incorporate the following motivational techniques to help encourage participation and improvement while helping students develop intrinsic motivation (adapted from

                                                                                                                                                                                              • Non-verbal Positives: smiling, nodding, giving a thumbs-up

                                                                                                                                                                                              • Self-talk Positives: Including my personal feelings and experiences ("I used to struggle with that...")

                                                                                                                                                                                              • Narrative Positives: Describing student actions as they are completed, encouraging continued participation (“You are curious as to what might happen next")

                                                                                                                                                                                              • Reward Statements: Highlighting feelings of self-worth with statements such as "Great job" or "Nice solution"

                                                                                                                                                                                              • Jun 20, 2014 9:59pm

                                                                                                                                                                                                I think giving students praise should continue to happen throughout schooling. If a child receives praise, he or she tends to want to de more to continue receiving praise. However, this breeds the problem with the one student who always has their hand up in class and sometimes can get impatient and even blurt out answers. This is something than can be dealt with accordingly. For example, if a student loves answering the questions and is searching for that praise, it is good to acknowledge that they have their hand up, but say that we are going to let someone else have a chance to answer. I think this can bring other kids back into the class, and hopefully help the other student realize that craving the attention will not always breed the results that they desire. As for extrinsic praise, if that is kept to a minimum, I do not foresee that becoming a problem with students craving it all the time!

                                                                                                                                                                                                • Jun 21, 2014 8:46am

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Creating a sense of balance in terms of rewards for students without also creating dependency in them comes with practice. It’s crucial that you don’t hand out constant prizes and rewards because every time a student does something (be it truly worthy or not) they will expect and ask for your approval and praise. By making a conscious effort to limit the number of times you hand out rewards, the students will come to understand that their success or a job well done does not equal an automatic reward. This practice, if done correctly, will lead the students to be responsible for their own internal reward system and learn not to rely on the teacher for approval.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Jun 21, 2014 8:48am

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Rewarding students for growth and success can be a challenge. To prevent dependency, educators should reward students for achievements privately. If a student brings up his or her grade or if a student works his or her way through a challenging assignment, praise should be given. Private praises can be in the form of a sticker on their work or writing great work or good job on their assignment. Simple praise can boost a student’s confidence and let the student know the teacher appreciate them working hard on their assignment or doing well on a test. For the students who love praise or do not receive praise this can boost their confidence.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Jun 21, 2014 2:17pm

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Everyone needs a little praise to stay motivated however I believe it takes a good mixture of praise in a consistent manner to be effective. Verbally acknowledging students should be a daily occurrence in the classroom. Commend your classroom when the students have behaved. Even though it is expected that students follow the rules, it reminds them that they are meeting expectations and motivates them to stay on task. Don't use the big rewards for small successes. Make your students work hard for preferred activity time and candy rewards. And if you set the expectation that the class is a team and someone ruins it for the class, stick with it. Be consistent. If someone doesn't quite make the cut, don't give in and give a reward. That only teaches kids that mediocrity is acceptable. Awards only motivate people when they have to be earned. When everyone gets one, rewards become expected. Motivate your students to give 110% and reward them when they do. And don't forget, when the reward is received, make sure the students thank you for the reward and clean up their mess. Getting a reward should not be an opportunity for them to go wild. It should be an opportunity for them to show gratitude while feeling successful. I like to think its like winning a ballgame against a team that has consistently beat you every time before. Being respectful, shaking hands and having good manners after the win while being proud that you've had a great accomplishment is the behavior all coaches/teachers should be encouraging their players/students to strive for.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Jun 22, 2014 2:01pm

                                                                                                                                                                                                        I think rewards ought to be used very sparingly, that way they have more value and students recognize you must have a very high achievement in order to earn one. I think verbal praise is very important to let kids know you recognize their efforts and an actual award should be given when they achieve what they've been working towards.
                                                                                                                                                                                                        One thing I never liked in school was how unfairly rewards were handed out. It seemed like only the kids who earned straight A's or were just outstanding people earned a reward, when the kids who worked really hard to do this but fell short were never praised or rewarded for their efforts.
                                                                                                                                                                                                        I think by making sure students know your expectations and what will earn a reward is very important, that way if they don't reach those you aren't the bad guy in the situation. You clearly outlined your expectations for that student and they didn't reach them. But also to be clear that they will have another chance to succeed the next day/week and maybe reevaluate your expectations of the student if it becomes apparent they are struggling.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Jun 22, 2014 6:53pm

                                                                                                                                                                                                          Where is the break even line on rewards and praise in the classroom? Reading through other’s comments I noted several comments relating that rewards should be sparse and be only for meaningful tasks. I’m going to take the unpopular route and say I’m all for rewards. First off, praise and encouragement are something that I strongly believe in. I believe in being generous with it. It cost nothing and often encouragement is one of key missing pieces to a student’s drive towards success. As a middle school hopeful I feel encouragement at this age may allow a child to decide that academics are something that is important to them. Children from non-encouraging environments may just need someone to believe in them. Secondly, rewards in the form of preferred activity time or physical rewards may be a case of where the ends justify the means. If a Starburst gets an uninterested student to complete their homework daily for a week, I’m all for it. Even if the reward is expected, if the student earns it I believe it is money well spent. I also believe classroom rewards such as preferred activities time can be very advantageous with behavioral issues and encourage a team environment in the classroom.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Jul 17, 2014 6:53am

                                                                                                                                                                                                            I think the best way to balance rewarding students without creating a dependency on rewards is to limit the amount and type of reward given. Positive comments on a well-written essay are quick and easy to write. They will give the student a sense of pride and accomplishment without requiring much from the teacher. I would save more significant rewards for larger projects or whole class achievements. For example, I might provide a pizza lunch after the entire class completes a project with good results. If the teacher ordered pizza every time the class did well, the students would come to expect it and would lose motivation. The reward needs to fit the difficulty of the task being rewarded. Perhaps allowing students to choose a piece of candy from a jar of Jolly Ranchers or Hershey Kisses would be a good reward for earning an A or B on an assignment. That would be a small reward, but it is still enough to make the student feel good about what he accomplished. This question reminds me of taking my kids to Wal-Mart. If I buy them something every time we go in the store, they come to expect to get something every single time. I have to choose carefully when to buy them something so that it doesn't become routine and lose its special quality. Students are the same way. If the teacher rewards every accomplishment, the student will come to expect it whether it is earned or not.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Jul 18, 2014 12:15pm

                                                                                                                                                                                                              I think that there can be good and bad that can come from rewards in school. On one hand if we give students rewards for everything they do correct, they will come to expect it. But if they are doing what is asked of them because they think they will get something in return there is a good chance that in the process they will learn something worthwhile and it could lead to a more permanent change in behavior for the better. Some people may argue that we are suppose to teach the students instead of train them, and if we keep rewarding students they will just revert back to previous behavior. Sometimes if a reward is too large, a child may become over whelmed and just give up. The rewards need to be limited and need to be achievable by all students. I think that a mixture of verbal and physical rewards could be good. One week students could work toward a big goal and get a big reward if they achieve it, and sometimes just a simple "you are doing a great job" or a pat on the back would suffice.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Jul 19, 2014 7:04pm

                                                                                                                                                                                                                I believe it is important for students to receive positive reinforcement for a job well done such as rewarding them. I also feel it helps build confidence in students. There are many ways to reward students such as stickers, smiley faces, and good job on papers. Other ways can include a smile, nod, or positive verbal comment. Students can become dependent on extrinsic rewards so this type of reward should be used sparingly. It can also cause lessen the effect of intrinsic rewards. Intrinsic rewards are best because students are less likely to become dependent on them and they are easier to administer. Students do not need to be extrinsically motivated for every little thing because then they expect it for all good behavior like sitting quietly and behaving in class. This behavior is expected everyday and should not be rewarded when done. Rewards should be administered for a job well done on homework or a question answered correctly and even then the reward should be intrinsic.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Jul 20, 2014 10:00am

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Certain behaviors need to be rewarded constantly while others just need to be acknowledged. I think a large part of this is to just know your students. Some may not like to be praised in front of others while others love it. There might be some that get very little praise for anything and will need a little bit more of a push. In any of these cases you have to gauge what moves from learning and growing to getting the gimmes. I would say with many cases, having a larger goal, whether it be the end of the day or the week, will help keep some students in check. One of the goals we must have as teachers is to try to teach our students intrinsic rewards. This will be the biggest challenge because so many people look for that external validation. Sometimes a job well done needs to be the reward in itself.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Jul 20, 2014 5:43pm

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I think this first starts with the classroom environment the teacher creates. If the teacher is able to create an environment that cultivates learning and keeps it exciting then the class may not always just be waiting on the treat or the piece of candy they get when they participate. I think it is important to have those rewards in the classroom but the teacher should not depend on those rewards just to get basic work done each day.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Rewards that grow on each other are a great idea because it allows students continual work to reach a goal. Like a kindergarten student not having his tag moved to red all week means that he gets tickets and he can cash those tickets in or save them for a bigger prize. Some of those prizes could be things like lunch with the teacher or getting to take your shoes off during reading time. I think there are many things that can be done to encourage children daily that are extrinsic but they do not become the only focus of the class.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    One of the most important things in the classroom is for the teacher to verbally reward that student through praise and attention. This will help students feel more valued and gain trust in their teacher. Positive reinforcement will encourage student participation even when there are not treats to give out.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Jul 22, 2014 6:56am

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I believe that in order to balance extrinsic rewards in the classroom the instructor has to be efficient in giving students other reasons to want to excel. I believe as a teacher we should strive to help students build intrinsic motivations. Teachers should try to model success and let students know that everyone is capable of achieving success, if they place value in the goals they wish to attain. I believe we build intrinsic motivations in students, by letting students know why a lesson is important and how it can aid them in their future. The rewards are nice, but they should not determine student success. For instance, instead of rewarding students for doing what they are supposed to, the teacher could focus on rewarding achievements that are above and beyond. Don’t give rewards to student for doing their homework, they're supposed to manage their homework; in this case you can offer praise. Let students know they’re on the correct path. We should not allow students to believe that every time they do what they are supposed to, there will be a party, with confetti. You can give praise, acknowledge accomplishments and have a rewards system without going overboard.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Jul 22, 2014 3:45pm

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        This goes back to that intrinsic versus extrinsic motivation
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        How much is too much.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Jul 22, 2014 3:02pm

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I liked your idea of the "atta boy", thumbs up type of praise. Growth is what we want isn't it? I have been guilty of handing out a cute pencil for achieving a goal. I did find that student would say Mrs. Schilling did I earn my goal? We would end up at the end of class spending at least 10 minutes checking electronically (technology specialist) whether or not the work met the goal. Were they working to please me, earn the pencil, or achieve the goal? Eventually, I made the checking for goal met a random act. This did lessen the number of students that achieved their goal. So does this mean that they are less intrinsically motivated? Does this mean that maybe I took some of their intrinsic motivation and made it extrinsic? When is it too much? Can there be too much? Am I setting his/her next teacher up for failure? Is a weekly treasure chest or weekly PAT time going to diminish the intrinsic motivation? There will be students who need constant praise every year, how do you make that one happy but not have to praise them for every time they stay in their chair? There has to be a happy medium. I look forward to seeing comments.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Jul 22, 2014 9:18pm

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            It is very important to reward students who have attained goals; however, the accolades need to be distributed carefully. Teachers can use other forms of positive reinforcement to replace these types of acknowledgements given to students. By simply giving students a quick thumbs up or writing positive notes on homework/tests, students are still shown the positive reinforcement they seek. These subtle examples allow teachers to recognize students success without drawing too much attention for the need of constant approval. Praise and extrinsic rewards work and can be very useful tools for motivation in the classroom; however, they need to be used wisely.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Jul 22, 2014 9:18pm

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              It is very important to reward students who have attained goals; however, the accolades need to be distributed carefully. Teachers can use other forms of positive reinforcement to replace these types of acknowledgements given to students. By simply giving students a quick thumbs up or writing positive notes on homework/tests, students are still shown the positive reinforcement they seek. These subtle examples allow teachers to recognize students success without drawing too much attention for the need of constant approval. Praise and extrinsic rewards work and can be very useful tools for motivation in the classroom; however, they need to be used wisely.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Jul 23, 2014 9:05am

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Positive reinforcement is necessary in a classroom, but I think the key is to not make a show of it. Many students thrive off the attention they receive from other students and the teacher when the teacher publicly rewards them. On the first day of class clearly outline what it takes to receive a reward, like PAT, so that students know they must work hard to receive that and they will not just expect it. I also think that any positive feedback you would give a student on a paper, homework, or test, should be content based and not just a general “great job”. This is especially applicable in writing assignments. A “good argument” or “great comparison between those two events” goes much farther to make the student feel good about their work than just a general “good work”.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Jul 23, 2014 10:55am

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I believe rewarding students for growth and success is very important and it can motivate students. However, I think in order for there to be a balance, there should be some things that the students should understand from the beginning. Students will know that I will reward them randomly and at my discretion, because this will keep them from expecting it every time they do something. If a good reward system is established, they will know that some things are simply expected and does not require a reward. I want my students to strive for excellence, so I want them to understand that being successful is the ultimate reward.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Jul 23, 2014 5:33pm

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I can see why the issue of balancing rewards and dependency is a tricky one. Students can become more focused on the reward itself than the fulfillment that comes along with progressing toward their learning goals. In order to foster a sense of independence in students, teachers should refrain from frivolously providing extrinsic reward or praise. Alfie Kohn argued that if a reward is a child's incentive to perform well or exhibit a certain behavior, then there is no reason for the child to continue that behavior once the reward is taken away. Furthermore, if we praise a student for having the highest grade in the class, we foster a sense of competition in that student rather than a value of honest effort. For this reason extrinsic rewards should be rare and reserved for instances such as when a student makes great progress in an area she was struggling with. Additionally, praise should be moderate and specific so that a student knows exactly which behavior is desired.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    If rewards are rare and given in more extreme cases when a student makes great improvements, this will decrease dependency because students will know that rewards are not a common occurrence. This will encourage them to find intrinsic motivation for completing their goals.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Jul 23, 2014 5:36pm

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I think that its very important to praise your students, however, too much praise or extrinsic rewards can easily cause a child to become dependent. Finding the right balance is something I have never really thought about. I think that a teacher should focus more on giving praise to a child when he or she has done something great in the class. The whole point in praising a child is to help build self esteem and to help the child continue up the ladder of success. So praising, yes, it is important. As far as praising too much, it can happen in the classroom. If a student is praised everyday for being average, then he or she will continue to be average, because they feel that is the most that they need to be. Even for students who always performs well, it can be detrimental. What if a student receives praise every day for their work, then one day the student submits something that they just thought was amazing, and the teacher did not praise the student. This could hurt the student, and could possibly set the student back. So, although I find it very important to praise students, I think it is important to only praise when it is necessary, or possibly limit the amount of praise you give to each student.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Jul 23, 2014 5:47pm

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        It is very important for students to feel good about what they have done. As a teacher, you have to find the happy median of what a good amount of praise is and what's not. Positive reinforcement is a great technique to use in the classroom. When a student does a good job on an assignment or test, it makes them feel accomplished when the teacher gives them praise for it. Students love being told they did a great job. It can be as simple as a thumbs up or it can even go as far as giving the students a choice of prizes. I think it varies among the different grade levels as to the amount of rewarding a teacher does but there can be an excess. The most important thing to keep in mind is to make sure the students don’t become dependent on the rewarding. The students need to learn that they will not receive rewards for everything they do great. They can learn to give self-accolades or rewards to themselves which in the end make them feel even better about their achievement.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Jul 23, 2014 7:16pm

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Praising a student's success is a necessary element of teaching in that a student naturally wants to please the teacher. Though the student who is receiving praise is conscious of the teacher taking note of his accomplishments, the teacher must not let the student become dependent upon this action. As teachers, we must maintain a balance between rewarding a student (verbally, prizes, etc.) and creating this so-called dependency. In order to maintain this balance, a teacher not only needs to limit the amount of praise given but allow the student to praise himself. What I mean by that is that a student must learn to build confidence in himself by feeling self-fulfilled from what he has learned rather than what his next prize from the teacher will be.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Jul 23, 2014 7:32pm

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Rewards go a long way in boosting a student’s confidence in their ability to perform in school. Providing an incentive for students to try hard may encourage them to study harder and/or complete their work. For students that do not like school, this could serve as a way to encourage them and it may change their view of school. Many students come from very harsh backgrounds where praise is not given maybe by providing a little praise and incentive at school it could show that student that someone does care and really does want to help them be a success.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Jul 23, 2014 7:47pm

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              In my experience the balancing of rewards with out creating dependency definitely presents a challenge, but it can be done if you recognize the opportunity to do it effectively as well as the students who need it the most. I don’t think you should be every moment praising students for doing things the should be doing. Instead, I think you should find those opportunities of pointing out the positives when you have students doing things they should not be doing. I will give you two examples. Let’s say I am conducting a lesson, and I have a group of students who are creating distractions. My first tactic is not to draw attention to those students. It is instead to point out the behaviors I would like to see. I would draw attention to the students in the class who are demonstrating the desired behavior and indicate that I would like everyone to follow their example. If the students who were previously causing disruptions, change their behavior, then I would praise them, and point out that I like how they are behaving. If they do not change their undesired behavior, then I would, with out causing a scene, tell them specifically what they are to do, and follow through with appropriate consequences should they neglect to do as they have been instructed. My next example would be to point out any positive behavior or action I note from a student who has had difficulties in my class. I firmly believe that we should praise and celebrate students when they make a good choice, particularly when they struggle in this area. I also feel that I would rather give verbal recognition first before I give any “token.” Token’s in my opinion should only be given after repeated examples of positive behavior, not every single time. Student’s who are struggling, also need recognition. I would encourage them to continue their progress so that they could earn a token. I would let them know verbally, that I like their improvement, and believe they can continue to do better.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Sep 7, 2014 11:28am

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I think the key to extrinsically rewarding a student without creating a sense of dependency lies in finding a student’s intrinsic motivation. Praise and extrinsic rewards offer a reason for a student to complete a task or behave a certain way, but research has shown that people who complete a task expecting to get a reward do not complete the task as well as those who were not promised a reward. If teachers can learn to intrinsically motivate their students and if students can tap into intrinsic rewards, the need for extrinsic rewards and praise will decrease. There are several resources available that suggest how to use intrinsic motivation in the classroom. I do not think that extrinsic rewards are harmful or should be avoided, but I can see how intrinsic motivation may be more useful for both the students and the teacher in the long run.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I worked briefly at a Montessori school where all extrinsic rewards were highly discouraged. It was difficult adjusting to that environment, and it was challenging trying not to praise students or even pass out stickers when the class was behaving nicely. I did see instances when a child’s motivation was purely intrinsic, and it was very rewarding to see the child revel in their success without some extrinsic motivator. However, I do believe that an occasional sticker or “good job” is not detrimental. As long as all rewards are not extrinsic and praise is not given for every little accomplishment, I believe that students will not become dependent on such sources for motivation.



                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Oct 9, 2014 6:49am

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I thought of myself as the student who is improving to answer this question, otherwise all my answers would have been speculative and would need to be tested to be valid - - I would point out the specific progress they have made and link it specific behaviors they have changed. At this point in the school year I would expect to know the students well enough to discuss their success in terms of their goals. For example, Susan started to discipline herself and study for tests more. Her grades reflected her efforts positively. Susan would have thoughts and an ambition to continue her study habits but her effort to study might dwindle if she in any way decides to be lazy, that this is only high school, or none of her friends are studying the way she does. The teacher steps in, however, and intentionally makes it a point to let Susan know that the teacher noticed the increase in test scores, he/she knew that Susan had great potential, he/she is proud of Susan, he/she expects her to continue, and the effort is worth it in the long run and explains why.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  As for small things like minor behavior changes that really do make a difference, I would say that a positive curt nod/smile/hand gesture when the situation arises for the negative effecting behavior arises and the student chooses against it would be good. A short, positive remark after class or when there is a break and no one would overhear would be beneficial, too.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  It takes effort to change a negative effecting behavior. This effort can be seen as a waste when whoever is around continues to choose the negative behavior. People know what is right. We have been given a conscience. Short praise for choosing the positive/neutral effecting behavior (depending on the situation) would provide support for the person who is trying to change.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Oct 25, 2014 11:14am

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    The behaviorist technique of incorporating positive reinforcement is a great concept, but if a teacher relies solely on this method, he/she is setting the students up to fail by becoming dependent on extrinsic motivators.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    It can be difficult to motivate some students without offering extrinsic motivators which is why it is important to limit how many extrinsic reinforcers you offer in the classroom. The behaviorist theorists suggest that teachers/parents who use reinforcement must use it as a "means-to-an-end." Therefore, we can pair tangible rewards with praise but we cannot overuse this. We must limit the amount of praises/rewards we are giving. Once we see improvement, we can slowly take out the rewards and simply offer praise. Hopefully by this point, the students will have developed more of an intrinsic motivation to succeed in which they do not require praise all of the time and we can tier off the amount of praise we give them as well.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    We must remember that we, as humans, are wired to enjoy praises/rewards from others. So, I think it will always be important for us, as current/future educators, to praise our students, but it is even more worthwhile to promote their individual worth and value. Hopefully, this will create a greater intrinsic motivation within our students that they can take with them to better succeed in future classes and in life.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Oct 26, 2014 4:12pm

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Students need motivation and encouraging words so they will improve in their studies and continue to participate. Rewards are only effective for the short term and will weaken over time. To motivate students, teach them to self-monitor. Provide opportunities for mastery by breaking down lessons into smaller components. Build their self-efficacy--their belief that they can do it. Teachers can also use self-talk positives: instead of saying, “You did well on that because you are smart,” say “You did well because you used your problem-solving skills.” Teachers can help their students to pay attention to their skills and strengths by describing the actions the student has taken as he or she completes them. The easiest praise teachers can give their students is a smile or a thumbs-up. Good behavior is its own reward when a student has self-respect, confidence, and the feeling that they belong to a classroom. Let your students know that you care about them and want them to learn.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Oct 27, 2014 4:00pm

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I think that all students are motivated by different things. However, depending on your students age, most students can be grouped into similar motivational categories. Group #1- students who are naturally intrinsically motivated because they want to be successful. Most of these kids are going to do very well in most subjects because they have an innate desire to learn. Group #2- students who are somewhat extrinsically and intrinsically motivated. The majority of kids will fall into this category because they have a desire to learn in areas that naturally interest them. However, subjects that they are not very interested in can require extrinsic motivation. Group #3- students who are only extrinsically motivated or not motivated at all. These students can exhaust a teacher because they are constantly trying to just keep the students on task by providing treats or external rewards. I am not teaching yet, but I am preparing myself that I will face some of these students who will challenge me.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I think as teachers we focus on the good in all of our students and try to intrinsically motivate all of them. I think the key is to provide opportunities in their assignments and lesson that interest them. I plan to incorporate lots of technology and extra-curricular materials that will show students the advantages to learning about business and technology. I want to provide them with real-life opportunities that allow them to advance their skills in ways that they can apply things to their daily lives. I think most kids are intrigued by technology (older ones lives revolve around it). By incorporating technological activities (business simulation assessments, real life skill activities- resume building, career blogs, etc) most students will become motivated to learn about my subject and eager to find out about the next assignment/project!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Oct 27, 2014 6:31pm

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Balancing rewards without creating a sense of dependency is tough especially with children, because children strive for praise. I have not worked with a child yet that did not like a complement, sticker, or something to let them know you noticed they were working hard. Even as adults, I believe we work harder when someone complements our hard work. Children are no different they are just younger. Many of the children I work with do not get verbal praise from home, so any amount of attention makes them strive to do better. I do believe if a teacher praises a student all the time it would lose its effectiveness. Encouraging students when exceptional work has been accomplished motivates them to try harder. To prevent a dependency on being complemented could be accomplished by only praising the best work the students produce, or the best behavior, or following the procedures for the day. I do believe sometimes teachers are afraid of giving too much verbal praise, but to me students need to know we care and that we are noticing when they try. Many students I work with will try twice as hard if they know I am aware of their effort. I try to always notice the struggling students, those who are shy, or those who may not be as popular as others, and complement them. I think the key to not making a student dependent on the complement is to be selective on what you acknowledge and let each child receive complements not just a certain few.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Oct 29, 2014 1:22pm

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            In Ontario, it was drilled into our heads to provide feedback and comments in terms of "strengths, needs and next steps." Give meaningful feedback with your praise -- tell the student specifically what they did well, and encourage them to "bump it up" to the next level, again with specific feedback. Some students have more "needs" than "strengths", and it's important to also praise effort on a task. By scaffolding, offering clear instruction and expectations, as well as giving meaningful feedback and praise, students can come to value effort, can be more reflective of their own work, and consequently, can set and work toward personal goals more effectively ... and find that intrinsic motivation we all want to foster.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Oct 29, 2014 1:30pm

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Be specific about the praise you offer students. In Ontario, it was drilled into our heads to supply comments and feedback in terms of "strengths, needs and next steps." Tell students what they did well, and encourage them to "bump it up" to the next level. Some students have more "needs" than "strengths." It is important to recognize effort, as well. Again, be specific, and encourage growth in your praise. By scaffolding, giving clear instruction and expectations, as well as meaningful feedback, students will begin to develop the ability to reflect on their effort and set goals, as well as discover their own motivators.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Oct 30, 2014 1:34pm

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                We all want to reward our students for their hard work, but it does get complicated if when the students become dependent on praise and reward. As many have already mentioned, it is so important to develop intrinsic motivation in our students so that they will become successful in their own right. Of course extrinsic rewards have a purpose every now and then, but the challenge lies in finding a balance. Intrinsic motivation helps support the balance because the more the students become motivated on their own, the less extrinsic motivations the teacher will have to give. There are many ways to build intrinsic motivation but I think one of the most important is to spark interest in the subject(s) taught. We can do this by making sure we assign meaningful tasks and helping our students make real-world connections so that they realize that the skills they are developing will actually help them in their lives. Another idea is to have a lesson free of grades or any other extrinsic rewards so that the students will see the value in learning itself. Extrinsic rewards can be balanced by only rewarding when there is solid evidence of good work, and to be sure to praise specific qualities of work instead of vague compliments like “good” or “great.” It is important to always state expectations clearly and what the rewards are for those expectations and to be consistent with them. I think it is okay to provide excessive praise if a student has gone above and beyond expectations but the teacher should be clear in explaining to the class how their extra work has earned them the attention.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Oct 31, 2014 9:01am

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  In my class, I have a lottery jar for each class. In order to be in the lottery, I must notice a student doing something encouraging or along the lines of our principles of success that are posted on the wall:
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  and also in regards to our classroom guidelines. At the end of each week, I pick a name from the lottery jar and I read aloud the name of the student and why they were submitted in the jar (to help students to think about what they can do to get into the jar) I also compare and contrast external and internal rewards. I explain the peace and confidence one receives when we act like encouragers rather than discouragers. I also stated that if anyone calls someone names or says "shut up", they must give two positives to the person and I explained how suicide rates are high and we never know what someone else is going through, I've had various activities related to awareness of others and how we really are (honest self-reflection) My students took off with the two positives and most of them love being encouragers and we say thank you for saying thank you. I try to get them to understand it internally and give them external rewards for their efforts, but I always talk about how good it feels to be "good".

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Oct 31, 2014 9:59am

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I think perhaps students should be made aware that from the beginning that doing exemplary work should be regarded as the norm, not the exception. Things that are expected, such as trying your best, being kind to your classmates, following the rules in general, should not necessarily be rewarded. However, I think that pointing out such behavior to the class can help reinforce the desired behaviors or actions, not only for the student performing them, but to motivate the class. Who doesn't like to be recognized for doing well? Extrinsic rewards should be something special, and doling them out for every minor accomplishment diminishes that. Perhaps these types of rewards could be saved for situations such as the entire class doing well on a test, or reserved for students who demonstrate going above and beyond what is expected. When other students see this type of behavior being rewarded, then they will certainly strive to be the next to be rewarded with a something special from their teacher.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Oct 31, 2014 12:14pm

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Rewards are a great way to motivate your students and guide them to behaviors that you expect in your classroom. Although, this can become a slippery slope. When rewards are handed out haphazardly, this could lead to students expecting rewards for minute tasks. If the students expect something and does not receive anything then all the work you spent getting them to the wanted behaviors could all be for not. Also, the rewards should match the milestone. For example, you could give out a pencil or candy for a good day in class and maybe free-time on Friday for a really good class average on a big test. You wouldn't want to give the class a pizza party for one problem student showing improved behavior for one class period. Rewards need to be rationed out to the point where they are not expected but sought after, therefore when they are received the will mean more to the student(s) no matter how big or small the reward might be.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Oct 31, 2014 2:31pm

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        "You can't teach self-discipline if the students are always looking for more treats, raffle tickets, and goodies from the Treasure Box." (Harry and Rosemary Wong, 2009)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Research studies have shown that in the long term, reward systems are ineffective. As a substitute teacher, I have had the privilege of working with every grade levels. I noticed that the praise-and-reward method is typically practiced in Elementary classrooms. Three weeks ago, I had an issue with a kindergartner who decided to throw a fit because I wouldn't let him pick two things from the treasure box. Luckily, his teacher was gracious enough to leave me a note to warn me about his behavior. I think students that have grown used to expecting praise, tend to act out when it doesn't come. “Contrary to popular myth, there are many studies showing that when children expect or anticipate rewards, they perform more poorly. When children are hooked on getting a reward, they tend to avoid challenges, to "play it safe". They prefer to do the minimum required to get that prize.” (Robin Grille, 2007)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Some students view rewards and praises as a way to seek approval from adults. This is why it’s important for educators to establish a method that encourages them to seek out their own ways to self-evaluate, without expecting rewards and praises for doing the right thing. For instance, if a child asked me what I thought of his painting, I would turn it around and ask “ how do you like your painting.” I may get a funny look from the child but I want him to express himself. After reading a story, I would ask students to answer the question, “ How does the story make you feel”, instead of telling students my thoughts about the book. The goal is for students to feel confident enough to accomplish a goal or to take risks for their own pleasure without expecting anything in return."At least ten studies have shown that people offered a reward generally choose the easiest possible task. In the absence of rewards, by contrast, children are inclined to pick tasks that are just beyond their current level of ability." (Kohn, 1993)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Instead of rewarding students with extrinsic rewards, teachers can promote intrinsic motivation in students by creating activities that makes them want to learn for their own sake, because it’s fun and interesting. I believe that giving students choices in the classroom and allowing them to give feedback on lessons are great ways to motivate them to participate in class without having to give them extrinsic rewards. If I happen to use extrinsic rewards in my class, I will make sure that rewards are given out to the whole class instead of individually. For example, I would reward students with a compliment party after they received a set number of compliments from other teachers or staff members.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Nov 1, 2014 2:36pm

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          We have to consistently encourage students. They need encouragement to feel like they are being successful. This does not have to be constant praise, a subtle reminder they are on the right track is enough. Sometimes, praising one student in front of others in passing way will be enough to help the other students see the desired behavior and also strive for the same praise. Rewards could be provided on a set schedule. When I was in high school, I had a language teacher that held a reward day at the end of each unit if certain requirements were met by the student throughout the unit (i.e. behavior, grades, attendance, and class participation). You were given a ticket after the test at the end of each unit if your met the requirements. This helped students stay focused throughout the unit, and each student knew when they would receive the reward.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Nov 2, 2014 8:30am

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            We all want to be rewarded for our hard work and completion of a task, however it makes our job more complicated as teachers if our students are constantly in need of praise. Teachers want their students to feel successful in the classroom and want to be able to reward their students for success, but a balance needs to be created. A great way to space out extrinsic rewards is by keeping a point chart. Students are rewarded points through out the week for numerous praise worthy behaviors. These points are given without fuss, just added to a spreadsheet that students can check on their own. Every 20-30 points, students are rewarded with an extrinsic reward. The reward can be anything from a getting a piece of candy, getting to choose a game for the class or eating a special lunch. This allows students to be self-motivated because they are striving for a goal that will provide them with an extrinsic reward.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Nov 2, 2014 8:10am

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              As a future teacher, I will instill confidence to balance rewarding students for growth and success without creating a sense of dependency. Instilling confidence in student’s leads to motivation that they can accomplish what they are being asked to do. One of the greatest challenges of teaching is motivating students in the classroom. Successfully motivating students requires careful planning, intentional action, and consistent effort. Students will be more motivated when they are able to make meaningful connections between what they are learning at school and their personal lives. Students will be more motivated to learn when a balance of intrinsic and extrinsic rewards is used to help them grow to enjoy the learning process. Instruction that is interesting, relevant, satisfying, and that prepares students for success, is the fuel that empowers teachers to motivate students. Every student has a different level of motivation. The goal is to inspire each student to be more intrinsically motivated to learn, and in my classroom I will use a variety of strategies to accomplish this goal.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Nov 2, 2014 2:34pm

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                In order to balance rewards for students against the odds of creating a sense of dependency I think what's most important is the level of the reward should be commensurate with the level of achievement. If you begin to award commonplace occurrences, or routine expectations, the award loses significance. Of course there can be exceptions to that, for instance if a student has had difficulty in the past with a rule or procedure and is now excelling in their behavior. I would also be hesitant to give out awards a daily or make it known that there is a pattern or routine and giving awards. I think spontaneity in this area would help encourage students to not only try and succeed or excel during certain times but in any given time; after a while this would hopefully be the nature of the student. I think the thing that you need to you have in the back of your mind is that there should be equity and rewards because your classroom should be an equal community.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Nov 2, 2014 3:06pm

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  While the use of reinforcers in operant conditioning has its uses, any behaviorist worth her or his salt will tell you that the best reinforcers are only offered intermittently. Such intermittent reinforcers help a student learn to rely on more intrinsic motivation (like the simple joy in completing an assignment well) when extrinsic motivation is not given. However, extrinsic motivation has been shown to help stall or eliminate the extinction of the terminal goal or behavior (especially newly acquired ones) until such a time when intrinsic motivation is all the student requires.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Finding that balance (and it will be different with each individual) is the key. The only way to know where the balance lies for each student is to build rapport with all students. Some will require very little extrinsic motivation. Others will require quite a bit. By nurturing respectful relationships with each student, we may very well discover that the need for extrinsic motivation is actually linked to something the student has been missing in her or his life.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Another effective way to reduce dependency is to vary the method of reinforcement that is offered. Tangible rewards can be replaced by heartfelt words of praise, for instance.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Nov 2, 2014 6:16pm

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I feel that this should be expected behaviors. I feel that children should learn that doing what's right and and working hard to achieve their potential should be a norm and not an exceptional thing. Going above and beyond by helping a peer or yourself without being asked. I feel that as a society we have become dependent on rewards or our children are becoming dependent. We are training children to relate and be successful in the real world. I don't get candy when I go to work or turn in an assignment. These things are a given, what I am suppose to do. I am not saying that rewards are not to be used, just that it should be for extraordinary not doing what is expected.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Nov 2, 2014 6:42pm

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      First and foremost, maintain a positive attitude. While some people will always be rude or incompetent, that does not mean that you have to join them. Killing people with kindness is great way to turn an example of negative behavior into a positive one. A straight forward discussion can reveal influences behind these negative behaviors which may not even be related to the current situation.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      The next step is to physically stand apart, both with professional dress and the classroom environment. It goes without saying that a professional appearance can go a long way. But the classroom should be like a second home. Stimulating posters and decorations and a functional classroom arrangement is a great place to start. In a school that is dominated by people such as those listed in the question, student comfort is surely a rare thing.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Even though this question implies that discussion and meetings with the administration are fruitless, keeping the lines of communication open is always important. Given this might not be a way to promote change on your own, at least a well-informed teacher can work around the incompetent admiration. There will always be people who are absolutely terrible to work with. But that doesn't mean we can simply give up on the education of innocent children because of ignorant adults.


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Nov 2, 2014 6:45pm

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I think that's a very interesting question. In elementary school especially, I know that can be rather difficult. In secondary it is a little easier, but you still want to give the kids some kind of incentive for doing what they are supposed to well.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I saw that someone else said something about best reward being verbal praise. I totally agree with that. A teacher can give out all the candy in the world, but a student isn't going to remember a bag of Skittles. They are going to remember what you said and how that made them feel. That is why daily I try to do that for my students.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I think it is also important to give them some other treats or incentives as well though. There's nothing wrong with having a "Student of the Week" who gets a special treat or special privileges for their grade and behavior in the class.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        The best thing you can do is to know your students. Be familiar with what they need for their age and maturity level. A high school student is not going to need the same kind of reward and incentive system as a kindergartner. At some point the student has to be intrinsically motivated to a certain extent.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Nov 2, 2014 8:46pm

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          This is a tough question to answer and one I'm sure I'll struggle with very soon. My experience as a college teacher and a substitute in high school is likely inadequate to prepare me for understanding the middle school environment. The environment at each level is very different (as Mary Beth Jones much more eloquently stated in her post) and requires different handling.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          In ancient Greece, the temple of Apollo at Delphi bore the inscription Meden Agan (μηδὲν ἄγαν) - 'Nothing in excess' ( In other words, some things - not everything - can/should be rewarded. In "The Savvy Teacher’s Guide: Selected Ideas for Behavioral Intervention," Jim Wright suggests three tests to determine if a reward will be effective: Acceptability, Availability, and Motivation. A detailed description of the tests can be found at

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          From a more contrarian viewpoint, Alfie Kohn in his 1994 article "The Risk of Rewards" ( makes a case for an alternative to rewards. Kohn writes: "Indeed, extrinsic motivators do not alter the emotional or cognitive COMMITMENTS that underlie behavior--at least not in a desirable direction. A child promised a treat for learning or acting responsibly has been given every reason to stop doing so when there is no longer a reward to be gained."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          That may be true, but some appropriately implemented method for recognizing the good, better, and best in our students can't be all wrong!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Nov 3, 2014 7:36pm

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            The main reason that kids should not be extrinsically rewarded every time they grow or succeed is the basic fact that this is not realistic. As an adult you will see yourself rarely (if ever) see a reward for the good deeds you perform. Sometimes things you do in the real world are never noticed. This is something that we as teachers must do our best to help students see without completely crushing their spirits. This can primarily be solved by intrinsically motivating our students. This can be a difficult task but can be accomplished with proper research. What pushes your students? What are they passionate about? How can you relate to them? How can the work they are working on benefit them now, or down the road? These questions can be an excellent rubric to follow. One other way that could greatly benefit you as a teacher is to ask older and more experienced teachers what they have used in the past to help intrinsically motivate their students. Always a great resource.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Nov 3, 2014 8:37pm

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              The main reason that kids should not be extrinsically rewarded every time they grow or succeed is the basic fact that this is not realistic. As an adult you will see yourself rarely (if ever) see a reward for the good deeds you perform. Sometimes things you do in the real world are never noticed. This is something that we as teachers must do our best to help students see without completely crushing their spirits. This can primarily be solved by intrinsically motivating our students. This can be a difficult task but can be accomplished with proper research. What pushes your students? What are they passionate about? How can you relate to them? How can the work they are working on benefit them now, or down the road? These questions can be an excellent rubric to follow. One other way that could greatly benefit you as a teacher is to ask older and more experienced teachers what they have used in the past to help intrinsically motivate their students. Always a great resource.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Nov 3, 2014 7:38pm

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                The main reason that kids should not be extrinsically rewarded every time they grow or succeed is the basic fact that this is not realistic. As an adult you will see yourself rarely (if ever) see a reward for the good deeds you perform. Sometimes things you do in the real world are never noticed. This is something that we as teachers must do our best to help students see without completely crushing their spirits. This can primarily be solved by intrinsically motivating our students. This can be a difficult task but can be accomplished with proper research. What pushes your students? What are they passionate about? How can you relate to them? How can the work they are working on benefit them now, or down the road? These questions can be an excellent rubric to follow. One other way that could greatly benefit you as a teacher is to ask older and more experienced teachers what they have used in the past to help intrinsically motivate their students. Always a great resource.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Nov 3, 2014 8:40pm

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  The main reason that kids should not be extrinsically rewarded every time they grow or succeed is the basic fact that this is not realistic. As an adult you will see yourself rarely (if ever) see a reward for the good deeds you perform. Sometimes things you do in the real world are never noticed. This is something that we as teachers must do our best to help students see without completely crushing their spirits. This can primarily be solved by intrinsically motivating our students. This can be a difficult task but can be accomplished with proper research. What pushes your students? What are they passionate about? How can you relate to them? How can the work they are working on benefit them now, or down the road? These questions can be an excellent rubric to follow. One other way that could greatly benefit you as a teacher is to ask older and more experienced teachers what they have used in the past to help intrinsically motivate their students. Always a great resource.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Nov 3, 2014 7:41pm

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    The main reason that kids should not be extrinsically rewarded every time they grow or succeed is the basic fact that this is not realistic. As an adult you will see yourself rarely (if ever) see a reward for the good deeds you perform. Sometimes things you do in the real world are never noticed. This is something that we as teachers must do our best to help students see without completely crushing their spirits. This can primarily be solved by intrinsically motivating our students. This can be a difficult task but can be accomplished with proper research. What pushes your students? What are they passionate about? How can you relate to them? How can the work they are working on benefit them now, or down the road? These questions can be an excellent rubric to follow. One other way that could greatly benefit you as a teacher is to ask older and more experienced teachers what they have used in the past to help intrinsically motivate their students. Always a great resource.