Friday, February 15, 2008

Do cash rewards boost student motivation?

Thanks to a new cash incentives scheme, Baltimore students are being paid a hundred dollars for improving their scores on Maryland's high school exit exam. This will create an incentive for students to improve their test scores. The program will cost an estimated nine hundred thirty five thousand dollars. The advocates of this reward system feel that for the progress that students could make, the investments are a small price to pay. However, opponents argue that money should not be used as means of motivation. By money being the motivation for these students, it devalues both their human capital and their cultural capital.

Each student's worth is somewhat decreased because of the superficial nature of the reward. Money leads students to a hollow understanding of what they are being taught. Whereas a student learning information on their own would gain a thorough understanding that would most likely stay with them throughout their educational careers. This follows with the ideal of cultural capital in that these students that follow the economical motivation will most likely not gain the necessary background to succeed. The families of the students who are succeeding in school are usually high income families. These families already have expectations from their children. A student's human capital would also inevitably be affected. Schultz would argue that this would be an investment that each student would be involved in.

Instead of actually helping students in lower classes, we think that this incentive scheme could be an instance of "the rich getting richer". High income families will take advantage of this opportunity because of the advantage that they themselves already have academically and socially.

-GROUP 5, ED175


Janice Hansen said...

There are some programs that offer "earn to earn" after school classes that pay better than minimum wage for attending. These classes are offered in economically disadvantaged areas where many students have to work in order to help the family stay afloat. I think the way in which the financial incentive is offered makes a difference. If going to an additional schooling opportunity is the student's 'job', that is different, and less maipulative, than just paying for grades.

Remi Mizuiri said...

I do not feel that cash would be a great enough inventive for students like the "hallway hangers" and the "lads" because they live by a very different culture and follow different ideals. Their perspective is exactly like a gang subculture as in their incentives are for pride, respect, and reputation based on their actions and attitudes. They understand the succeeding culture and the actions necessary to reach particular goals, but they do not wish to follow this system because they do have trust in that system. If they were to study for the high school exit exam, just to receive the $100.00 reward, the process of studying might not be worth the reward at all. For example, let's say that a hallway hanger decides to put in all his effort in studying to pass the CAHSEE, but does not manage to pass; he will completely lose hope in the idea that efforts pay off and would be even less likely to try in school. The $100 reward would mainly be given to the upper-middle class students who may not need the money in the first place.