Sunday, April 7, 2013

Raising Funny Kids 30: The WOW Factor, Part 2


Perception is reality, folks. Students may not actually want functional rewards, but their left brain will compel them to tell you - and themselves - that they do. So, include them in the mix. 

Behavior is also reality, and perception and behavior are sometimes at odds. Generally, research into educational models cannot effectively tell you how student's perceptions of value relate to their brain. Students will tell you that they want Straight A's or No Tests, but such stated preferences don't usually materialize into behavior. 

Choosing functional rewards has all the enticement of receiving a Book Report back only to have scored a C when you were expecting an A. 

In general, students assign a greater value to things they can't easily quantify. A student rewarded with a field trip, limousine pickup, or day at the spa, will assign value to that reward based largely on perception, which is likely to be high, and far greater than the cost. 

When it comes to recognition, rewards become tricker because students have already exhibited the behavior - as such, the immediate cost is not as prominent in their minds. Reward has to be part of the expressed or declared experience. 

Project-based learning activities are naturally designed to include celebration, something the students are aware of when they begin a task. 

Reward Banquets, for example, can be included in the curriculum. Working toward tangible, but longer-term goals keeps student expectations (perceived needs) high, and more easily attained (attention spans).

Timing is important, otherwise, as I mentioned, the actions have already been largely forgotten. When you design a curriculum with a celebration at the end, students respond favorably to the experience and most importantly, remember that it is important to celebrate milestones as they occur. Otherwise, it becomes a race to the finish - just to get it over with. 

Rewards in the upper spectrum of this chart are more difficult to quantify, which requires some experimentation on behalf of the parent or teacher to optimize a motivating value proposition - but it's well worth it! 

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