Rewarding Behavior

 In reading my newest issue of Young Children Magazine (published by the National Association for the Education of Young Children, or NAEYC) and today’s Democrat & Chronicle, two articles that touched upon the concepts of rewards and punishments in the classroom caught my attention.

 The NAEYC article focused on early childhood programs and reviewed studies and evidence stating , "Research indicates that while rewards may result in immediate, measurable learning gains in some areas, these gains are countered by lower levels of motivation for continued learning."  The D & C article, Teacher's Oppose District's Suspension Program, discussed the in-school suspension policies at East High School and Superintendent Brizard was quoted as saying, "In-house suspension cannot be a cake walk. It has to be place for real work," Brizard said. "If kids know it's a fun place to go, it's not a deterrent."
 
Intrinsic vs. extrinsic motivation has long been a hot topic in education as well as in parenting practices so it was interesting to encounter these two articles on the same day.  While over-rewarding is certainly detrimental to the development of self-motivation in children, I do feel that rewards have a place in education particularly in relation to discipline and development of appropriate behavior.  In contrast, the development of discipline programs must be done carefully as well so that what is set up as a negative consequence is truly rehabilitative in nature rather than a fun alternative to the classroom.
 
I'd be interested to hear opinions on the use of rewards, behavior modification and discipline in the school setting, particularly from parents or administrators.  What is being done in today's classrooms and homes to encourage positive behavior and to discourage bad choices?  How do you best encourage intrinsic motivation in younger children?
 

 

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