Impacts of Rewards on Learners

Impacts of Rewards on Learners

Learning is a complex process that requires good behavior and the push to do necessary

academic activities and initiatives in order to perform well in the classroom. For this reason, the

use of rewards with the intention of strengthening or reinforcing good behavior and motivating

students is a common practice in teaching-learning practices and processes. Generally, the role of

rewards vis-à-vis students’ motivation is an area of great concern for both teachers and

educational scholars. Indisputably, teachers have a responsibility of motivating students.

However, researchers apparently hold divergent opinions regarding the impacts of rewards on

learners. Depending on the theoretical approach to motivation that individuals espouse, some

researchers opine that rewards have positive impacts on students and others believe rewards have

negative impacts on learners. This essay supports the assertion that motivating students with

tangible rewards do more harm than good.

Generally, motivation is the impetus or driving force behind behavior, actions and thoughts.

Motivation energizes behavior and actions towards satisfaction of needs, achievement of goals,

competence, esteem and affiliations. However, although everyone requires motivation to do even

daily tasks, people have different amounts and types of motivation (Ryan and Deci 54). In other

words, people vary in terms of how much motivation they have, as well as, the kind of

motivation they have. This understanding actually informs the traditional categorization of

motivation into two types, that is, intrinsic and extrinsic motivation.

Intrinsic motivation is a kind of motivation that comes from within an individual (Kelsey 87). It

is also defined as identification with desirable goals and outcomes. A student’s ego who has this

type is fully engaged in learning activities and tasks. In this case, a teacher needs to find out what

makes a student identify with a particular learning task. For instance, a learner may be motivated

to learn certain skills because he/ she knows their value or because learning those skills will

enable him or her to attain good grades, as well as, the privileges that accompany good grades

(Ryan and Deci 54). In such cases, the teacher should ensure that the student’s ability to

perform the task or mastery of the task is attained.


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