Research - Reinforcing Effort and Providing Recognition

As many of us know, students perform better when they can build on success rather than failure. Students learn to expect one or the other. Hopefully, we can help them learn to expect success. Remember that A students typically stay A students, and D or F students typically stay D or F students. However, by reinforcing their effort and providing recognition, we can help the low achievement levels turn into average and high achievement levels.

Marzano's key points. (Marzano, Pickering & Pollock 2001, pp. 49-59)

  • Guide students to understand effort in relationship to achievement
  • Explicitly teach the importance of effort.
  • Students can and should track effort and achievement and self-evaluate on a rubric
  • Rewards are most effective when contingent upon a standard of performance which enhances intrinsic motivation.
  • Abstract recognition is more effective than tangible rewards (verbal praise, gestures, body movement) all specific to achievement
  • Use concrete symbols of recognition like awards, stickers, certificates all specific to achievement

Summary of Research on Providing Recognition

  • Rewards do not necessarily have a negative effect on intrinsic motivation.
  • Reward is most effective when it is contingent on the attainment of some standard of performance.

Keep standards high for ELLs (not rewarding them for busywork while non-ELLs are rewarded for academics).

  • Abstract symbolic recognition is more effective than tangible rewards.

Beginning level students need to see and hear verbal praise through pantomime or gestures.

Higher-level students are motivated from hearing the teacher explain the details of their academic achievement.