Study: Effectiveness of student rewards depends upon timing

1 Aug

In Should we pay children to go to school? Moi said:

Education is a partnership between the student, the teacher(s) and parent(s). All parties in the partnership must share the load. The student has to arrive at school ready to learn. The parent has to set boundaries, encourage, and provide support. Teachers must be knowledgeable in their subject area and proficient in transmitting that knowledge to students. All must participate and fulfill their role in the education process. See, School Absenteeism: Absent from the classroom leads to absence from participation in this society https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2012/02/01/school-absenteeism-absent-from-the-classroom-leads-to-absence-from-participation-in-this-society/

https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2012/02/17/should-we-pay-children-to-go-to-school/

Educators and researchers have been looking at whether reward programs motivate certain populations of students.

Science Daily reports about a study which looked the effect of rewards on student behavior. In the article, Immediate Rewards for Good Scores Can Boost Student Performance, Science Daily reports:

Test performance can improve dramatically if students are offered rewards just before they are given standardized tests and if they receive the incentive immediately afterward, new research at the University of Chicago shows.

Educators have long debated the value of financial and other rewards as incentives, but a series of experiments in Chicago-area schools showed that with the right kind of rewards, students achievement improved by as much as six months beyond what would be expected.

The rewards apparently provide students with an incentive to take tests more seriously. One implication is that policymakers may underestimate students’ ability in otherwise low-performing schools, according to the research team that conducted the experiments.

Researchers used financial rewards to boost performance for older students and non-financial rewards, such as trophies, to improve performance among younger students.

The prospect of losing a reward created a stronger desire to perform than the possibility of receiving a reward after a test, the research showed. Students who were given money or a trophy to look at while they tested performed better.

“Most importantly, all motivating power of the incentives vanishes when rewards are handed out with a delay,” said lead author Sally Sadoff, a 2010 PhD graduate in economics, who did the research as a Griffin Postdoctoral Scholar at UChicago from 2010-11. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/06/120626113922.htm

Citation:

The Behavioralist Goes to School: Leveraging Behavioral Economics to Improve Educational Performance

Steven D. Levitt, John A. List, Susanne Neckermann, Sally Sadoff

NBER Working Paper No. 18165
Issued in June 2012
NBER Program(s):   ED   PE

A long line of research on behavioral economics has established the importance of factors that are typically absent from the standard economic framework: reference dependent preferences, hyperbolic preferences, and the value placed on non-financial rewards. To date, these insights have had little impact on the way the educational system operates. Through a series of field experiments involving thousands of primary and secondary school students, we demonstrate the power of behavioral economics to influence educational performance. Several insights emerge. First, we find that incentives framed as losses have more robust effects than comparable incentives framed as gains. Second, we find that non-financial incentives are considerably more cost-effective than financial incentives for younger students, but were not effective with older students. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, consistent with hyperbolic discounting, all motivating power of the incentives vanishes when rewards are handed out with a delay. Since the rewards to educational investment virtually always come with a delay, our results suggest that the current set of incentives may lead to underinvestment. For policymakers, our findings imply that in the absence of immediate incentives, many students put forth low effort on standardized tests, which may create biases in measures of student ability, teacher value added, school quality, and achievement gaps.

You may purchase this paper on-line in .pdf format from SSRN.com ($5) for electronic delivery.

The disintegration of the family has profound implications for the education success of children.

Huffington Post is reporting in the article, Ohio High School Paying Students To Show Up, Behave In Class:

A Cincinnati high school is paying its students to go to school.

The Dohn Community High School, a charter school in Ohio, started a program this week that would pay seniors $25 weekly and underclassmen $10 weekly in Visa gift cards for showing up to class every day, being on time and behaving in school. The move aims to encourage students to stay in school and graduate from the school where 90 percent of its students live in poverty. Fewer than 20 percent are in two-parent households.

Money is important to them,” school Chief Administrative Officer Ken Furrier told CBS Cleveland. “We can’t teach them if they’re not here.”

Every week a student is paid, an additional $5 goes into a savings account, payable upon graduation. The program is being funded by $40,000 from several areas, including private donors and federal Workforce Investment Act dollars funneled through the Easter Seals, a community-based health agency, KMSP-TV reports.

The target is graduation,” Furrier told Reuters. “We do almost everything we can to get the kids to there.”

Critics say the school is rewarding students for basic things students should be doing already, but at Dohn, “they’re not doing it,” Principal Ramone Davenport told KMSP-TV. “We’ve tried everything else.”

Davenport tells the Associated Press that the program is already working and attendance is up. Dohn was designated by the Ohio Department of Education as an “academic emergency” last year, with just a 14 percent graduation rate during the 2010-2011 academic year. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/02/15/ohio-high-school-paying-s_n_1280227.html?ref=email_share

This school is dealing with the reality of certain education settings because they have not absorbed from their upbringing the thought that education is crucial to later success in life. Further, these children often face emotional and economic challenges because of their family circumstance.

In answer to whether children should be paid to come to school and achieve – for some children, this may be an option.

Related:

We give up as a society: Jailing parents because kids are truant https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2011/12/18/we-give-up-as-a-society-jailing-parents-because-kids-are-truant/

Hard truths: The failure of the family                     https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2011/11/06/hard-truths-the-failure-of-the-family/

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©

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