Academic journal article The Science Teacher

Immediate Rewards Boost Student Performance

Academic journal article The Science Teacher

Immediate Rewards Boost Student Performance

Article excerpt

Test performance can improve dramatically if students are offered rewards just before they take standardized tests and if they receive the rewards immediately afterward, new research at the University of Chicago shows.

A series of experiments in Chicago-are a schools showed that rewards can improve student achievement by as much as six months beyond what would be expected, apparently causing students to regard tests more seriously. The prospect of losing a reward created a stronger desire to perform than the possibility of receiving a reward, the research showed. "Most importantly, all motivating power of the incentives vanishes when rewards are handed out with a delay," said lead author Sally Sadoff, who did the research as a postdoctoral scholar at the university.

Sadoff helped conduct experiments involving 7,000 students. The team studied the impact of incentives on students taking relatively short, standardized diagnostic tests given to determine their grasp of mathematics and English skills. The research was reported in a paper published by the National Bureau of Economic Research. …

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