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Reward and Punishment, Good Idea or Bad?

The once popular conception of reward and punishment is being overshadowed by the proof that such actions could produce an inverse, or opposite, effect.

A common, yet misconstrued belief among some teachers and parents is that the act of rewarding or punishing a student based on educational performance is a key motivational tool inside and outside the classroom. However, studies show that students who are lured into doing something for a reward are less likely to do it again if no reward is offered.

Moreover, such research also proves that punishment can often evoke a feeling of defiance and anger in children.  The once popular conception of reward and punishment is being overshadowed by the proof that such actions could produce an inverse, or opposite, effect.

In addition, some psychologists believe that the most effective type of reward is giving praise. Praise and positive reinforcement that is directed towards a specific assignment or task assists the student in evaluating themselves. Receiving praise and positive feedback emphasizes that success is directly related to the amount of effort the student puts into their work.  Praise is a tool that is helpful for the student to assess themselves and help them set educational goals.

Ultimately, students will become more independent learners if their motivation is not reliant on punishment and rewards, but rather on the praise that results from a job well done. This concept will reveal to students that the amount of effort they put into their work and educational success are directly related.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Fred Gee January 05, 2012 at 11:17 PM
Praise/Admonishment = Reward/Punishment
S Talarico January 06, 2012 at 10:53 PM
Positive reinforcement is a good way to train husbands, too! :)
Ralph Splendorio January 15, 2012 at 12:21 AM
It depends on what you consider punishment. There also needs to be negative ramifications to negative behavior. If you do not study for a test and fail it.... that is not punishment but rather the direct negative ramification of the actions of the student. Punishment cannot be punitive but negative ramifications (that most students will see as punishment thought they are net) I believe are essential to the learning process.
Lila February 10, 2013 at 10:24 PM
I believe we should use our successes and failures as information, not reward and punishment. It's like what Einstein said "everybody is a genius, but if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that t is stupid"
fed up February 11, 2013 at 02:46 AM
Yes, it also works great with dogs. But children? How about doing it the way it was done for hundreds if not thousands of years. Pay attention in class listen to your teacher and do your homework. And if you fail you are punished period end of story. This is just another example of the dummy down, don't hurt their feelings,pussification of our children these days. Who cares if the kids get angry when punished? Then wise up.

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