Extrinsic rewards, intrinsic motivation and learning

In this study, the effects of classroom rewards are examined to determine whether the reward provided motivation for student academic achievement. The study focused on sixty-four students over the course of one school year. The foe~ points of the study were; 1.) two comprehension tests and student drawings, 2.) sociogram notes, and 3.) a student motivation survey. Students were offered a reward if they scored above a certain percentage level on a "fill in the blank" /multiple choice test which also included a drawing component. The results indicated that the offer of a reward did not result in improved test scores, in fact, the offer may have distracted students and limited their achievement. Their anxiety levels were tracked before, during and after testing using sociogram notes on a seating chart. The students who were offered a reward asked more questions, took longer to finish the test, and seemed more distracted. The survey asked students to identifY what most motivates them to achieve in the classroom. The outcome of this research indicated that students seem to be most motivated by an adult authority figure's verbal praise or recognition. There were many parallels between this research and that of ma.1y previous similar studies conducted in psychology departments. The research indicates that adult recognition is crucial to student motivation while extrinsic rewards seem to distract students from academic performance.