Should parents pay their kids to bring home good grades? It's a question many are struggling with now that students are back in school and homework is piling up.
All parents hope they've prepared their child for academic success, but some wonder if those who are struggling to earn high marks would benefit from a bit of cold, hard cash as an incentive.
Children often lack foresight. In school, "success" is predicated on good grades, but it's hard to put a concrete value on a letter. The fruits of their labor are marked by As on their report cards and perhaps a pat on the back, but in the grand scheme of life, what do those things mean to children? Life after K-12 has tangible rewards, but typically, it's a greater goal -- salary, philanthropy, providing for a family -- that pushes one to thrive in the workplace.
This concept begs the question of whether a monetary reward is an appropriate motivator for students. Some see it as a short-term solution that doesn't inspire accomplishment, but others contend school work is work in its own way.
FOX 9 News spoke with Jim Bierma, project director for the University of Minnesota's Ramp-Up to Readiness program about whether the concept is a benefit or drawback for students.
Q: You've been a school counselor and see how kids work and operate. Do you see incentives as a benefit or a drawback?
A: I think it depends on the student. Overall, I would not recommend paying your students money to get As or Bs, and there are a couple of reasons. The first one would be that some students are already motivated and they would feel extra pressure, and that might hurt them. The second part, which maybe is even more important is: If you want to help your student get good grades, it has to be something where they develop these habits of success, which parents can help with. But, for some students, it is a good thing. Some students need a little extra extrinsic motivation, and for them, this little bit of push might be enough to help them.
Q: So for that student who may be struggling or not meeting his or her potential, can giving them money get them on the right path? Maybe it's not money -- maybe it's an incentive, a video game or something of that nature. Or is there a worry that the short-term solution could backfire later?
A: It can, and for many students, if they get a reward of some sort, whether it's money or a video game, that can serve as an incentive. So, it depends on the student. Usually, grades come out every five weeks, every nine weeks, and students who need to be motivated usually need more structure than just something every nine weeks.
Q: For parents watching this, is there a difference between bribery and a reward? Are there other things that they can do as incentives?
A: I don't think giving students money for grades is really bribing them. I see it as more of a reward because it's something that they have earned. So, it really depends on the student. If it's something that does provide that external motivation, I think that, in those cases, it can be helpful.
Q: What about flipping this on its head a bit -- taking things away if grades slip? Can that be effective?
A: Many studies have shown that when you take things away and or if you punish people, that is usually not as good as providing them a reward.
The Ramp-Up to Readiness program is predicated on success achieved by knowledge, skill and habits necessary for success in a high-quality college program. The program focuses on students in grades six to 12 and helps them progress in five areas of readiness:
WHAT DO YOU THINK?
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