In a survey conducted by a team of researchers (John W. Fantuzzo, University of Pennsylvania; Cynthia A. Rohrbeck, George Washington University, and A. Dirk Hightower and William C. Work, University of Rochester), 90% of urban elementary teachers polled reported that they used rewards frequently to improve classroom conduct and increase homework completion. More than half these teachers also used rewards in attempting to improve reading or math performance. Teachers in the primary grades tended to use a greater variety of rewards than upper elementary teachers, wh offered fewer edigle or tangible rewards.
Fantuzzo et al. also surveyed students in grades 2-5. Importantly, results of the student poll showed that children overwhelmingly preferred social rewards, such as recognition or praise, over edible or tangible rewards. Activity-type rewards, like free time or a class party, were their second choice. These results indicate that teachers seem to underestimate the potential effectiveness of non-tangible rewards.
“Teachers’ Use and Children’s Preferences of Rewards in Elementary Schools” Psychology in the Schools, April 1991, Volume 28, Number 2, pp. 175-181.
Published in ERN September/October 1991 Volume 4 Number 4.”