In a perfect society, children are self-motivated to pursue their interests and achieve their own goals without incentives. Nevertheless, in reality, society attempts to provide motivation for students in order to accomplish tasks. Either people offer rewards for completing a certain activity, or resort to presenting punishments if the activity isn’t complete. The main argument is which act is a better motivator: compensations or punishment. Although many may debate that retribution will encourage a student not to do certain actions and eventually lead to success, a variety of studies have shown that presenting awards will steer a student down the right path.
Initially, motivation is the reason or reasons that one has for acting or behaving a certain way. It is divided into two types: intrinsic motivation and extrinsic motivation. Intrinsic motivation is an internal drive, meaning that it is driven by taking pleasure in the activity itself. The feeling exists within the individual rather than relying on an external reward. Additionally, researchers discovered that offering incentives for an already internally rewarding activity can make the activity less enjoyable because a person’s natural satisfaction is already a sufficient prize. There are many factors that can increase intrinsic motivation: challenge, curiosity, control, cooperation and competition, and recognition. Overall, intrinsic motivation influences the quality of the work performed.
In contrast, extrinsic motivation is when the activity is performed in order to attain an external outcome, so it arises from outside the individual. Common extrinsic motivations are rewards like money, grades, or avoiding the threat of punishment. Researchers have also concluded that offering excessive rewards negatively affect intrinsic motivation, which is called the over justification effect. This effect basically means that activities that begin feeling like fun transform into obligations in order to receive benefits. Therefore, extrinsic rewards should be used with caution, for they can diminish genuine inspiration.
Moreover, economists argue that we experience loss aversion. This means that we are more inclined to avoid actual loss than to strive for conditional benefits, so punishments are beneficial to our motivation. In spite of this, many high school students disagree. According to Emily Thorp, a 16-year-old high school junior, students experience loads of stress and constant pressure to maintain exceptional grades. Countless parents punish their children for receiving low grades. One parent even commented that her child’s grades “need to be eighty-five percent or above or she is grounded to the house until the next progress report.” Thorp argues against this belief by mentioning that some juniors earn $50 for obtaining A’s. She also states that it is inaccurate to assume that punishing a student for receiving bad grades; therefore, the punishment is ineffective.
Furthermore, rewards motivate students to complete an assignment, but there are limits to such prizes. In a 2009 study, psychologists Mark R. Lepper and David Green recruited fifty-one preschoolers between the ages of three and four. The children were randomly assigned to three conditions: expected reward, surprise reward, and no reward. In the first group [respectively], children were told that they would get a certificate with a gold seal and ribbon if they participated in the drawing activity. In the second group, children received the same award, but weren’t told about it until the drawing activity was finished. In the last group, children were expected no reward and did not receive one. As a result, those children who expected a reward experienced a decrease in motivation while the ones who attained a surprised reward achieved the highest motivation levels. The children who received no reward also had higher motivation than those who expected an incentive.
In a nutshell, students who expect rewards will complete an assignment, but will not put forth the full effort; however, pupils will be 100 percent driven to a particular task when a reward is given to them without their knowledge. Alfie Kohn, a leader in progressive education, even stated that “people expecting a reward for completing a task simply do not perform as well.” These unexpected bonuses will provide energy for students to finalize obligations and feel more motivated into putting their all into these obligations. Ultimately, rewards are better motivators than punishment.