Jun 24, 2012

ARTICLE: Tests & Rewards

Study Finds Chicago Students Motivated To Perform Well On Tests When Promised Money, Trophies 

In the Freakonomics documentary, the researchers studied the effect of monetary incentives on averages. If I remember correctly, junior high students received a certain amount of money for A's and B's. By the end of the study, they agreed that the incentives did not affect behavior, but other questions needed answering.

In a study lasting from 2009 to 2011, the researchers found that a high financial incentive ($20) worked better than a low financial incentive ($10). It seems like a no-duh finding, but it's important to treat education as a research-based science rather than running it with "common sense."

Also, a reward promised a month after the test showed no effect on motivation. Kids need immediate compensation. So, ice cream rewards and water balloon fights at the end of the year would make no difference on test day.

"Furthermore, incentives framed as 'losses' rather than 'gains' elicited significantly higher effort. For example, if students were given $20 and told it would be taken away if they performed poorly."

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