Cash or prizes for good grades

Do rewards encourage or corrupt learning?

A number of U.S. programs that offer students cash and prizes in exchange for good academic performance has renewed debate over the value—and harm—of extrinsic rewards. Already, a number of schools in New York City and Dallas offer cheques for success in Advanced Placement classes, while others in Washington and Chicago pay students for good grades, attendance and behaviour. While some experts argue that these programs, which are proving particularly attractive in high-poverty areas, provide students with motivation, others warn that reward-based learning can backfire and lead to disinterest when the prizes and money stop flowing. Future research is likely to centre on how to administer rewards to students, and at which age. But in the meantime, it’s doubtful kids will gripe about the prospect of padding their allowances in the name of research.

NY Times

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