A study published in Educational Psychology examines how different approaches to rewarding students affected their spelling scores and prosocial behavior for different ability levels.
A total of 1,005 students, aged 9 and 10, in 28 classes were recruited from three primary schools in Singapore. Classes were randomly assigned to one of five reward conditions: competitive, cooperative, individualistic, cooperative-competitive, and cooperative-individualistic. An ABABA (A= implementation, B = withdrawal) design was used for each condition, and students’ spelling scores were tracked over a period of 10 weeks. Teachers were asked to rate students’ prosocial behavior before and after the study. The results showed that
- The different conditions did affect students’ spelling scores and prosocial behavior, but that these effects depended on ability level, such that different conditions were more effective for different ability levels.
- Across all five conditions, only the cooperative-competitive condition resulted in increased spelling scores and prosocial behavior across all three ability groups, with these improvements maintained when the intervention was withdrawn.
- In the cooperative-competitive condition, students cooperated as a group and the group with the highest average spelling score (compared to other groups) was rewarded.
Source: Wah, F., & Sim, T. N. (2019). Effects of reward pedagogy on spelling scores and prosocial behaviors in primary school students in Singapore. Educational Psychology. Advance online publication. Doi:10.1080/01443410.2019.1662888.