Let’s turn our assumptions about awards upside down

Retrospective rewards for good attendance are common in schools, but research suggests they could actually have a demotivating effect, writes Alex Quigley

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In a new research paper, entitled “The demotivating effect (and unintended message) of retrospective awards”, a troublesome finding calls into question a common practice across English schools: rewards for attendance.

The practice is nothing new and is common beyond the school gates. As the paper (see bit.ly/RetroRewards), by Carly D Robinson et al from the Harvard Kennedy School in Massachusetts, US, states, “over 80 per cent of corporations reportedly use awards”, too.

Yet, among the researchers’ sample of 15,329 US pupils, there was no motivational impact for those who gained pre-announced ...

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