Effects of Student-Preferred Incentives in University Courses.
ARIZONA STATE UNIV TEMPE
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Three experiments were conducted to determine the effects of student-preferred incentives across instructional tasks that varied in length and relatedness to the course content. Dependent measures included posttest performance, study time, and student reports of effort. The incentives selected for use in each experiment were based upon recent normative data on incentive preferences of university students. Sixty-four undergraduates enrolled in an upper-division education course participated in Experiments 1 and 2. In the first study, the opportunity to earn points toward the course grade for acceptable posttest performances was used as an incentive. No significant differences between incentive and no-incentive students were obtained on any dependent measure for either a course-related or a non-course-related instructional program. In the second study, performance of students, each of whom was allowed to select his or her preferred incentive from among several alternatives, was compared with performance of students on a no-incentive treatment on two course-related instructional programs. Incentive students performed significantly p .004 better than no-incentive students on certain program subtests-subtests that required the student to state lists of rules that could be committed to memory. In Experiment 3, the effect on student performance of release from final examination was investigated under typical instructional conditions in a university course. Evidence from these experiments and previous research indicates that incentives are effective for memory-type tasks, particularly when the student is aware that rehearsal and memory are task requirements.
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