Want your child to score better? Offer a reward

Researchers have found that offering rewards to children, and then fulfilling them soon, motivates them to score better in tests

Trophy on a pedestal
Younger children get motivated to do better at tests if they are offered trophies as rewards

With the level of competition among students becoming stiffer, parents are trying everything they can to egg their children on to score better in studies. However, the best method to get children to do better might be to offer them rewards, finds a recent survey.

Research at the University of Chicago found that childrens' performance in a test improves dramatically if they are offered rewards just before the test. Through a series of experiments in schools researchers showed that with the right kind of rewards, students achievement improved by as much as six months beyond what would be expected. The rewards encourage students to take tests more seriously.

While financial rewards work better in case of older children, younger students find non-financial rewards, such as trophies, to be motivating, revealed the research. Also, it was the prospect of losing a reward that created a stronger desire to perform than the possibility of receiving a reward after a test, the research showed. Students who were given money or a trophy to look at while they tested, performed better.

Immediacy is of value

The researchers warned though that the rewards have to be given immediately after. "All motivating power of the incentives vanishes when rewards are handed out with a delay," said lead author Sally Sadoff. The team pointed out that most adults encourage students with the promise of the long-term reward, which is many years into the future, such as becoming successful in life or earning a fat salary and getting into a desired vocation. And since the reward is in the distant future, it fails to adequately motivate children who are more concerned in the immediate future.

Eurekalert!

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