Practitioner Enquiry
1) What I wanted to change in my group
I wanted to encourage more reading in an A2 Psychology group and to take more responsibility for their own learning of the material. In terms of ‘emotional intelligence’ the attribute I wanted students to develop was ‘readiness’ for lessons through reading material in advance
2) How I went about this (i.e. the methods used)
Each student was set a specific topic to read, based on the A2 psychology syllabus. Once completed and presented to the group through a handout or PowerPoint display they received a reward (usually a letter home to parents). Once everyone had completed tat least one additional reading task, the whole group would be rewarded by going to the lecture theatre and watching a film and eating popcorn! The two students who completed the most tasks would receive an additional reward (CD vouchers). The details of this agreement were worked out in discussion with the students in this group and everyone signed an individual contract with these conditions and terms stated in full.
3) What the results were for the group
The contract created a sense of belonging to the group, through a shared ‘mission’ and involvement in something special. The individual rewards were especially satisfying for some students – especially the lower achieving ones – because they were afforded some ‘recognition’ for the good work they had done. This was particularly satisfying when their parents were made aware of this through a letter home. The group reward had quite a powerful effect, since no one wanted to let the group down. The awards for most effort had mixed effect, but those who won were pleased!.
4) What I learned as a practitioner from doing the project
A simple letter home can have quite a positive effect! Even 18 year olds can be delighted by this! Students often feel the object of constant evaluation and criticism, so positive feedback and rewards are highly valued by students. I also gave a lot of thought to the processes behind rewards, and the pitfalls e.g. rewarding poor work or rewarding something that a student did out of intrinsic interest may be unnecessary or even counterproductive.