Reward programs have a long tradition in classrooms—think of gold stars and perfect attendance certificates—but direct-incentive programs have had lackluster effects at improving student achievement. New research on student motivation suggests that the timing and format of several of these high-profile programs may explain some of their inconsistent results.
The new findings come in a working paper published this summer by the National Bureau of Economic Research. A team of researchers from the University of Chicago, the University of California, San Diego, and the Center for European Economic Research in Mannheim, Germany conducted a series of six experiments in three low-performing Chicago-area districts: Bloom Township, Chicago Heights, and Chicago. Steven D. Levitt, a University of Chicago economist and the author of the 2009 William Morrow book Super Freakonomics , led the study.
From 2009 to 2011, the researchers repeatedly scheduled low-stakes
diagnostic tests of students in elementary and middle school as well as
10th graders. The students were not told about the potential reward
until just before the second test; the researchers measured the
incentives’ effect on students’ test-taking, not their long-term
Read the full article here