“But,” you may be thinking, “my students expect rewards. I can’t just not use them!” So how
♦ A clean, safe, caring environment;
♦ Engaging, interesting lessons;
♦ Appropriate support and scaffolding; and
♦ Clear and fair assessments.
In addition, when using extrinsic rewards, we should emphasize the feeling that accompanies the reward, reinforcing that the true reward is how you feel about your success. In other words, move from a reward to celebrating the learning experience.
There are three other specific tips for using extrinsic motivation. First, when using rewards, do so unannounced. Rather than saying “if then, then this,” simply choose random times to reward students. By surprising students, they are encouraged to put forth effort all the time.
Next, reward students through affirmation of their work. Give them an authentic audience who can appreciate their quality learning. For example, rather than participating in a traditional science fair, use an “Invention Convention,” and display their inventions for local community leaders.
Third, when you are using rewards, make them appropriate and mean- ingful to the student. Some students like stickers; others prefer tokens. It’s also important to be respectful of the individual. Some students do not like to be singled out in front of their peers. If you know that, find another way to praise them: a note, an individual comment, or even a look. As teacher Suzanne Okey explains, “some students will appear not to respond positively to rewards, then it’s necessary to figure out way to deliver rewards in a meaningful way to the student; give them a way to save face. In Chinese culture, saving face and losing face are huge concepts; it’s big in our culture, too.”