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Stop With the Gold Stars for Bloggers

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Doug Johnson questions the purpose of rankings and awards in the edublogosphere. Of all people, he says, educators should know that extrinsic-reward systems can be counterproductive:

As Alfie Kohn’s classic book Punished by Rewards: The Trouble With Gold Stars, Incentive Plans, A’S, Praise, and Other Bribes (Houghton Mifflin, 1993) demonstrates, rewards can punish those who do not receive them; rewards can rupture relationships between students and between students and teachers; rewards ignore the reasons for a desired behavior; and rewards can discourage risk-taking. But the single most devastating conclusion he draws from his research is that rewards can actually discourage desired behaviors.
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There is research to prove that the use of extrinsic rewards increase motivation and persist even after the reward as been removed. A recent study published by Margaret Raymond of Stanford's CREDO titled, “Paying for A’s: An Early Exploration of Student Reward and Incentive Programs in Charter Schools,” highlights that reward programs produced consistent and positive results across grades on state achievement tests in reading, adding 4 percentile points to the average student’s performance each year the student participated in the rewards program.

In a Kenya study, “Incentives to Learn” by Michael Kremer (Harvard University, Brookings Institution, and National Bureau of Economic Research), Edward Miguel (University of California, Berkeley, and NBER), and Rebecca Thornton (University of Michigan) published in January 2008, the removal of rewards did not impact motivation. “Surveys of students in our Kenyan data provide no evidence that program incentives weakened intrinsic motivation to learn or led to gaming or cheating.”

Let's face it, extrinsic rewards have been used in education for decades.

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