There is a lot of debate in this current political climate as to the effectiveness of Public vs. Private or Charter schools. There are many factors that determine the success of students in any school, but here we will focus on the role that recognition plays in the educational process.
Charter Schools were some of the earliest proponents of comprehensive reward programs, and many have implemented points systems to reward students for good behavior and academic achievements. This may be because Charter Schools are not subject to the restrictions and budget constraints of Public Schools, and the leaders may be free to think more progressively.
It’s important to note that an effective incentive or recognition program does not reward students for “showing up”. SMART goal setting rewards specific achievement for going above and beyond the basic expectations. An incentive, by definition, is offered for extra effort or achievement and is not to be confused with a bribe (something offered with the intention to corrupt).
Research points to these characteristics associated with effective recognition programs:
- Reward students for mastering certain skills or demonstrating increased understanding of a particular concept. Recognition for personal improvement is more effective than pitting students against each other.
- Rewards are more likely to be effective if they target behaviors or tasks that students feel are achievable, clearly articulated, and within their control. SMART goal setting takes subjectivity out of the equation.
- The tasks being rewarded should be challenging enough to maintain students’ interests, but not so challenging that they could undermine students’ feelings of competence.
- It is not necessary to reward students to do tasks they inherently enjoy (that can actually decrease motivation), so take that into consideration when setting goals.
- Social rewards and privileges can be effective alternatives to cash rewards if they are sufficiently appealing to students.
- Programs that allow students to choose whether to pursue a reward are more promising than those in which students may feel obligated to participate.
- The more immediate the reward, the better! This makes sure that students see a clear link between their behavior and the reward.
- Get support from the top. Rewards are more effective if they come from someone of social or personal importance to the student, such as the Principal or Head of School, etc.
Incentive and recognition programs have been successful in the business world for decades; it makes sense that they also work for students. Our GoalUP.com platform helps teachers and parents to set goals with students, track progress and reward achievement – all online. How are you recognizing and rewarding your students for their accomplishments?