卓越實證概述 Best Evidence in Brief
What makes for an effective student reward?

A National Bureau of Economic Research working paper explores the short-term effects of incentives on student effort and performance, varying the size and type of the rewards as well as how they are presented. As part of the study, field experiments were conducted across multiple years in over 7,000 elementary and high schools. Findings were as follows:

  • Incentives framed as losses (i.e., a reward that is given before an assessment begins that the student can keep if they meet the goal, or will have to give back if they don’t) have more robust effects than comparable incentives framed as gains (i.e., receiving a reward only after the goal is met).
  • Non-financial incentives (e.g., a trophy) are considerably more cost-effective than financial incentives for younger students, but are not effective with older students.

All motivating power of the incentives vanishes when rewards are handed out with a delay rather than immediately. For this study, the delay was one month.

 

Source (Open Access): Levitt, S.D., List, J.A., Neckermann, S., & Sadoff, S. (2012). The behavioralist goes to school: Leveraging behavioral economics to improve educational performance (NBER Working Paper: 18165). Cambridge, UK: National Bureau of Economic Research. Retrieved from: https://www.nber.org/papers/w18165.pdfRead the rest

Stories about struggling scientists improved science grades?

A study published in the Journal of Educational Psychology looks at the impact of “struggle stories” on success in science.

Students who think that success in science is only possible with exceptional talent may become demotivated and, for example, turn away from the idea of studying science in college. In this study, 402 students in ninth and tenth grades in New York City schools read one of three kinds of story about an eminent scientist who:

  1. Struggled intellectually (e.g., made mistakes and overcame them through effort);
  2. Struggled personally (e.g., was poor or lacked parental support, but overcame it); or
  3. Made great discoveries (a control condition, without struggle).

The intervention lasted five weeks. Student achievement was measured using grades from the six-week sessions before and after the intervention, and motivation was measured using a pre- and post-test. The study found that:

  • Students in both of the “struggle story” conditions had higher grades than the control condition, though the difference was not significant.
  • There was no measurable difference on the motivation of the groups, but analysis of interviews showed that the students felt more connected to the scientists.

 

Source (Open Access): Lin-Siegler, X., Ahn, J. N., Chen, J., Fang, F.-F. A., & Luna-Lucero, M. (2016). Even Einstein struggled: Effects of learning about great scientists’ struggles on high school students’ motivation to learn science. Journal of Educational Psychology, 108(3), 314–328. https://doi.org/10.1037/edu0000092Read the rest

The relation between student motivation and reading performance

The latest issue of Review of Educational Research presents a meta-analysis on the relationship between reading achievement and motivation. The review examined whether ability to decode and understand text, goal orientation, students’ at-risk status, or grade level moderated the relationship, as well as whether motivation and reading are related over time.

Jessica Toste and colleagues at the University of Texas at Austin and the University of Iowa included 132 peer-reviewed articles with 1,154 effect sizes. Most of the studies took place in the United States (41%). Other studies were from Canada or Europe. Results suggested that:

  • The relation between motivation and reading achievement is moderate (ES = +0.22).
  • For specific reading domains, average correlations with motivation were moderate as well: ES = +0.19 for the ability to read in an accurate and fluent way, ES = +0.21 for the ability to understand and learn from reading text, and ES= +0.23 for general reading.
  • Further analysis showed that self-perception of reading competency had a stronger correlation with reading (ES = +0.27) than goal orientation (ES = +0.05).
  • In addition, interest (ES = +0.17) had a stronger correlation with reading compared to goal orientation. At-risk status and grade level were not significant moderators.

Finally, the review examined the relation between motivation and reading over time, including eight longitudinal studies. The results indicated positive, significant associations in both directions, with early reading as a stronger predictor of later motivation than early motivation predicted reading achievement.

 

Source: Toste, J. R., Didion, L., Peng, P., Filderman, M. J., & McClelland, A. M. (2020). A meta-analytic review of the relations between motivation and reading achievement for K–12 Students. Review of Educational Research90(3), 420-456.Read the rest

Student motivation and school reform

The Center on Education Policy in the US offers a series of papers that examines topics related to students’ academic motivation. The summary paper, Student Motivation: An Overlooked Piece of School Reform, pulls together findings from a wide array of studies by scholars in a range of disciplines, as well as lessons from programs intended to increase motivation. Topics include: why motivation is important and how it might be defined and measured; whether rewarding students can result in higher motivation; whether students can be motivated by goal-setting; the role of parental involvement, family background, and culture; strategies schools might use to motivate students; and non-traditional approaches to motivating otherwise unenthusiastic students. A few of many suggestions that the authors offer for schools to consider are:

  • Programs that reward academic accomplishments are most effective when they reward students for mastering certain skills or increasing their understanding rather than rewarding them for reaching a performance target or outperforming others.
  • Tests are more motivating when students have an opportunity to demonstrate their knowledge through low-stakes tests, performance tasks, or frequent assessments that gradually increase in difficulty before they take a high-stakes test.

 

Source (Open Access): Usher, A. & Kober, N. (2012). Student motivation: An overlooked piece of school reform. Washington, D.C.: Center on Education Policy, The George Washington University.Read the rest

The benefits to students of helping others

Teachers would be grateful if students adopted the positive social custom of “one for all, all for one”. However, would helping others be beneficial to the students themselves? A recent study published in Journal of Happiness Studies examined whether the altruistic personality trait of Chinese students contributed to their life satisfaction. 

The study conducted a survey of 428 students from schools in East China, of whom 148, 139 and 141  were drawn from, respectively, primary schools, junior high schools and senior high schools. Students were assessed for their altruism, life satisfaction, positive and negative emotions. Altruism was measured in terms of sociability, empathy, social responsibility and interpersonal trust. The findings were as follows: 

  • Adolescents who have higher levels of altruism were found to have more positive emotions, fewer negative emotions. Their life satisfaction was also higher. 
  • Empathy, social responsibility and interpersonal trust positively predicted life satisfaction.
  • On the other hand, no direct relationships were found between sociability and life satisfaction. 

The authors suggested that the results revealed insights for educating adolescents. They recommended providing students with empathy training, cultivation of social responsibility and education on interpersonal trust. 

 

Source: Lu, C., Jiang, Y., Zhao, X., & Fang, P. (2020). Will helping others also benefit you? Chinese adolescents’ altruistic personality traits and life satisfaction. Journal of Happiness Studies, 21, 1407-1425.Read the rest