Praise and reward in education are used to reinforce the desired behavior. Parents or educators want this behavior to occur more frequently.
In this way, the child receives an incentive, a motivation, to align his actions with something the parents like.
You can reward children with a sticker, a bonus point, a compliment, or a fun activity.
According to some, this is at least as effective as punishment.
The facts about praise and reward in education
The idea behind this method is far from new. It works not only on humans but also on animals.
Researchers of Behavior, psychologists, and educators have devoted themselves to this aspect with the help of numerous experiments since the 19th century.
Today, however, rewards as an educational measure have also come under strong criticism because, strictly speaking, the child is not brought up, but only “conditioned”.
The following example shows why constant praise and reward in education can be problematic:
Tim (4 years) does not like to paint. He much prefers to romp around the apartment or busy himself with his cars. But his parents want to encourage his creativity. They also fear if their son might have learning problems to write laters if he never picks up a pen.
So they buy him expensive pens and encourage him to use them to paint a picture for grandma, whose birthday is soon.
Tim doesn’t really feel like doing it, but his parents keep talking to him until he finally gives in and picks up the pencils.
The result is not particularly successful, and Tim himself does not seem really convinced of his work. However, his parents praise him forcefully for his performance.
A short time later, Tim is supposed to paint another picture. But he doesn’t want to, and this time persuading him doesn’t help either. Only when his mother promises him chocolate as a reward, Tim picks up paper and pens again.
He listlessly paints a few colored lines on the sheet of paper. Nevertheless, his parents praise him and he receives the promised chocolate.
A few days later, Tim is supposed to paint a picture of his family in kindergarten. He quickly scratches a few lines on the sheet and then shows it to his teacher. She is not enthusiastic and says: “Tim, you didn’t make a lot of effort.”
When the kindergarten teacher asked him to add to his family picture, he refused. He knows very well that the teacher won’t give him any chocolate afterward – so why should he make an effort?
The example proves that rewards should never be used in an inflationary way.
The boy has learned to behave as his parents want because the consequences are pleasant for him.
First of all, the argument that grandma will be happy about his picture is enough for him to motivate him.
Later he demands even “better” rewards, otherwise, he is not ready to grant the parents’ wish.
Of course, it does not “work” as desired because the insight drives him or because he is motivated, but only because he hopes someone will give him an advantage.
There are other ways of showing appreciation for children. For example, by encouraging them to reflect on their own behavior and taking their views and needs seriously.
It also makes sense to use praise when they have performed accordingly. At some point, the praise itself is no longer worthy, and they do not learn to correctly assess what they are doing.
Parents should therefore consciously consider how they use reward as a method of parenting.
It is important to know what you can do with it. Basically, upbringing is about helping children to develop into the most stable, independent personalities, and are able to act socially and responsibly.
Table of Praise and Rewards in Education:
Benefits Disadvantages Everyone has a need for social recognition and success Children lose their intrinsic motivation if they are praised too often. Studies show that reward works better than punishment Just like punishments, rewards are adult controls used manipulatively When a child is praised, they feel good, gain self-confidence and self-confidence. Many children develop excessive expectations, want to be constantly praised, and expect something in return even for small favors or things that are taken for granted The child is motivated to show the desired behavior and this method is a successful parenting strategy It appears worthless if it is used more often Praise and reward are effective ways of strengthening parent-child relationships and strengthening bonds. Often praise and reward are used arbitrarily – the child feels insecure as a result
The effect of rewards
Behaviorism is still the basis of many educational theories. You punish students for undesirable behavior and reward them for behavior that you would like to see more often.
Punishment for undesirable behavior seems to be the most common in the classroom. But there are also teachers who opt for rewarding.
It is more pleasant to teach from the positive mood of reward than from the negative atmosphere when handing out punishment.
Rewarding leads to a positive atmosphere in the classroom. Students like to be rewarded and do their best to get it.
However, according to some, too much reward is also not good. Because our brains are sensitive to rewards, students can actually do their best to get rewards.
Intrinsic motivation then becomes extrinsic motivation.
Also, Read 4 Crucial Steps to Make you Stay Motivated
In addition, too much reward in children with low self-esteem can lead to them developing a fear of failure.
They are afraid of not reaching the high standard for which they were previously rewarded next time.
According to some teachers, punishment is simply necessary. Especially because rewarding does not always lead to the desired result.
Children who are rewarded for their behavior show that behavior less and less. Because the goal is not the behavior or the activity anymore, but the reward they want, so children lose interest more quickly.
Problematic, because when the reward becomes the motivation, problems arise when that reward is lost.
In short: reward gone, motivation gone.
Another disadvantage of rewarding is… it encourages competition. There may be a fight for the reward. Not all students feel safe with that.
A few more tips if you want to work with rewards in education:
- Opt for partial reward, don’t always reward good behavior randomly. This prevents students from only working for the reward.
- Make sure the relationship between behavior and reward is clear.
- Give appropriate rewards. If the reward is too great, not getting the reward can also cause disappointment, which in turn leads to demotivated students.
- Reward not only the outcome, but also the process. So apreciate not only the resultbut the diligent work.
- Reward not only individual students but also the class as a whole. This motivates everyone to participate in the desired behaviour.