The reinforcement theory views rewards as reinforces that are used to increase the possibilities of certain desired individual behaviors. Despite the fact that rewards are usually deemed effective overall, Banko & Gear (2005) notes that its applicability is the classroom context is a controversial subject. Some research studies have argued that intrinsic motivation of the student is usually destabilized if they are no longer offered with the rewards (Cameron, 2001). There are significant drawbacks associated with external motivation, implying that its effectiveness is usually limited. Cameron (2001) infers that in most cases, when a student is externally motivated using rewards, his involvement in the task is primarily driven by the rewards that he/she will receive upon completion of the task. Therefore, using rewards in the classroom context can be viewed as an engagement in an activity as a means to an end, with the underlying argument being that people who are motivated externally using rewards normally undertake their tasks on the account that their participation will impose some desirable outcomes. The underlying argument is that external rewards do not serve to establish a continuing commitment towards participation in tasks (Cameron, 2001). Extrinsic rewards cannot result to a sustainable motivation because as soon the individual withdraws himself from the reward or punishment, then the motivation ends. The inferences from the findings were reached from experimental studies. It is important to note that the viability of the findings needs to be evaluated under real life situations, with a primary concern in the context of the classroom and the role they play in enhancing academic excellence. On a study conducted by Cameron (2001), the findings reported that using rewards do not serve to enhance the performance of the pupils, but also serve to boost the intrinsic motivation of the pupils when deployed in an appropriate manner. Cameron further asserted that negative impacts associated with the overall use of rewards is not common, and that it is only in isolated contexts that have external factors in play can affect the effectiveness of the use of rewards in enhancing student performance.
An experimental research conducted by Koestner & Ryan (1999) on the other hand reported that the effectiveness of rewards in the classroom context depends on the kind of the reward used, the anticipation of the reward and the attributions that are made after being awarded with the reward. According to Chen & Wu (2006), rewards also play an important role in helping pupils to set their goals. This is facilitated by the fact that students usually set their eye on the ultimate prize, implying that they will opt to adhere to the rules and develop an increasing level of persistence that is geared towards obtaining the reward that has been promised to him/her upon the completion of a task. This is an effective way of helping pupils to set goals, and work towards them with the hope of achieving the reward.
This study will examine the use of rewards awarded for reading within two elementary schools in California. On narrow perspective, the study will base on the kinds of rewards awarded to students, the eventuality of the rewards, anticipation, that is whether the students were informed or not about the rewards. On the control sample, the study will assess the level of intrinsic motivation towards reading. Due to variations in the reading motivation according to sex and grade, the study will take into account the background variables. Basing on the gaps on the previous research, the purpose of this research is therefore two-fold:
- To determine the effects of rewards in motivating pupils to read
- To determine whether reading motivation imposed by rewards translates to academic excellence
Research hypothesis: Using rewards in the classroom increases academic excellence.
The participants in the survey comprised of 100 students (50 boys and 50 girls) from two elementary schools in the state of California. The treatment sample comprised of 25 boys and 25 girls from an elementary school that significantly relied on rewards for motivating its students to read. The control sample comprised of 25 boys and 25 girls from an elementary school that did use rewards to encourage learning. All the participants were 2nd graders, in order to take into the background variable identified above, that is, variations in reading motivation depends on grade and sex (Koestner & Ryan, 1999).
The Reading Motivation Scale for the Survey Participants
The scale will be based on the questionnaire designed for the reading experience, and will comprise of mainly extrinsic and intrinsic reading motivation, which will be used in offering an explanation for variance in the scale (Koestner & Ryan, 1999).
Prior to the study, the consent of the participants will be obtained in order to eliminate the possibilities of discomfort by the participants. It is important to note that the principle of voluntary participation will be observed, implying that no participant will be forced to take part in the study (Chen & Wu, 2006). In addition, questionnaires will only be administered to willing participants, after their consent. It is also important that to take into account that the study will not impose any potential harm to the participants and the research team during, before and after the study.
This proposed study will make use of longitudinal design. The questionnaire used in this study will be administered to the treatment sample in order to assess the level of their motivation to read before being given any award. This will be undertaken during the initial three weeks of the opening semester (Chen & Wu, 2006). Towards the close of the semester, the questionnaire will be issued again to the same control sample three weeks before the close of the semester. This will be done with the main objective of determining their levels of reading and learning motivation after being given some awards. The questionnaire relating to the experiences of the rewards of the pupils will be issued three times during the semester for the control sample in a cohort of 1 month (Koestner & Ryan, 1999). The reading motivation for the control sample will be analyzed using the reports from their teachers for a comparison with the data gathered from the treatment sample. The variances in the level of motivation of the treatment sample before and after being rewarded will be used to infer a conclusion. In addition, the variances in the level of reading and learning motivation will be used to conclude whether rewards are any better than intrinsic motivation (Chen & Wu, 2006).
Data analysis plan
Data analysis is a vital step in experimental research because they are used in deriving the conclusions of the study. The findings from the study will provide a basis for agreeing or refuting the formulated research hypothesis (Chen & Wu, 2006). The data collected during the proposed experimental study will constitute of both qualitative and quantitative data. Therefore, inferential and descriptive statistics will be deployed to derive the conclusion for the studies. Descriptive statistics in this study will be used to make generalized observations and summaries using mathematical quantities such as percentage, mean, mode and any other form of mathematical descriptive quantity that will be required (Koestner & Ryan, 1999).
The aim of the proposed study is to conduct an experiment on whether rewards can be used to enhance motivation for reading among the students in elementary school pupils. The participants in the survey comprised of 100 students (50 boys and 50 girls) from two elementary schools in the state of California. Any changes regarding the reading the levels of motivation denote that the use of rewards in the classroom context significantly affects the motivation for reading. With this regard, an increase in the variance between the levels of motivation to engage in reading activities before and after rewards will imply that rewards are effective in enhancing motivation for reading. In addition, a large variance between the levels of motivation for the treatment sample and the control sample implies that rewards are effective in enhancing the motivations for reading among the elementary school pupils. A lower variation will serve to refute the hypothesis of the study.
Future directions and limitations
The significant limitation of this research is the sample size and context of the research. Motivational psychology is applied in diverse areas that extend beyond the classroom to include workplaces and individual responsibility. It is therefore recommended that further research should use broader scopes of sample populations in order to have a precise understanding of the aspects of intrinsic and intrinsic motivation.