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ESE502 : The Class : Structure : Incentives


There are a number of management programs that offer incentives to students for good behavior or work production. These are neither good nor bad. They do have some real drawbacks.

  1. They are usually time intensive - record keeping, passing out tokens or chips, etc.
  2. Tangible rewards often set up a sense of competition among students, so time and energy is diverted to “wanting” and “getting” rather than focusing on learning.
  3. Tickets, tokens, stickers and points are frequently lost or taken by other students.creating additional discipline matters.
  4. Unless the classroom is small, a few students tend to get more attention and thus more incentives, while those who are misbehaving tend to ignore the incentives or to use them as a control issue.
  5. Incentive programs sometimes seem like bribes to students. Even at best, they fail to teach self responsibility and may backfire. Once a student is rewarded for reading a book, for completing homework, or passing a speed test, there is a tendency for the next request to be followed with, “What’s in it for me,” or “How much will I get if I do?” That is counter productive, since we are striving to develop life long learners and underscore and value intrinsic curiosity.

Sample Incentive Tips

  1. Get students involved in record keeping.

  2. Set up incentive programs for a limited period of time -- for instance one month, rather than having them die out through lack of teacher time and energy.

  3. Remember to frame work as the ultimate good and the trinkets or rewards as a side benefit.

  4. Try to maintain a cooperative feeling as the intrinsic backdrop and guard against competitive exchanges - girls against boys, the bad kid versus the hard workers, etc.

  5. Work from the idea of merit and NEVER use demerits. Taking points or tokens away destroys the motivation of sensitive students or those who are just developing work habits.

Sample Incentive Programs

Tokens for trade
When these accumulate, students may "spend" them for white elephants, sports activities, trinkets, movies, treats
Marbles in a jar
Team goal
group points
blue vs. red
jig saw
Group meetings
Stop watch for time on task
"I add ten points to the group total since"
Points accumualte through team work or competitions and then the entire class gains the privilege to engage in music listening, sjports activities, movies, trats, service projects for the school

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