Spurning rewards

By greenteapanda

February 20, 2008

Category: Education

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Some very rich CEOs, Steve Jobs comes to mind for one, take a $1 salary for their work, just because they can. It shows that they don’t need the money (conveniently ignoring they still make piles of cash by cashing in stock options they get all the time).

I am in the midst of teaching two minicourses right now. When students answer above and beyond the call of duty, win games, or otherwise contribute to class, they get points. These points get stamped on point cards at the end of class. When they get enough points, they can get a small prize. It is the prizes that motivate students.

Except for the higher level class, where the brightest few students don’t even bother to get their points stamped at the end of class. No stamps, no prizes – but they don’t seem to care. They could be at the developmental stage where they do good because that alone improves their standing, or it might even be because they now have intrinsic motivation to do well. These students were in my advanced class last semester, and they were always eager to get prizes back then.

The fact that there are much weaker students present in class conjures up another option – like the CEOS of certain companies, they might be eschewing points just to show off. I suppose I will only know for sure when next semester’s advanced class begins.

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