This week, we further our investigation into the intricacies of motivating students with this article. Daniel T. Wilingham writes about the complexities of using rewards to increase motivation in a classroom setting. Cash reward, candy, or free time, are all strategies used by instructors to motivate students to do something that is hard or disliked.

Rewarding students is, from one perspective, an obvious idea. People do things because they find them rewarding, the reasoning goes, so if students don’t find school naturally rewarding (that is, interesting and fun), make it rewarding by offering them something they do like, be it cash or candy.

However, there are particular settings when such actions are undesirable: for instance, rewarding an activity that is already appreciated by the student will lead to a decrease in student motivation once rewards are withdrawn. Wilingham offers us clear guidelines on the best use of rewards as a motivation tool in the classroom.