Tammy Parker EDLD 5301 – ET 8002 May 11, 2009 Week 5 Assignment – Action Research Proposal Using Extrinsic Rewards to Motivate Kindergarten Students to Complete Homework Assignments Introduction and Background Teachers often use rewards as motivation for students to perform a desired task. Davis, Winsler, and Middleton (2006) reported that most elementary students received a “myriad” of external rewards from their teachers (p. 214). These researchers found that 77% of the participants in their study valued rewards as effective academic motivators (p. 217). The classroom teacher of the study sample wants to find an effective way to motive her students to complete homework assignments. The value of using extrinsic rewards to motivate students to complete homework by the due date will be explored. Extrinsic rewards are not only intended to influence student behaviors, but also to help students assume responsibility for their own learning. In their study of a fourth grade reading improvement program, Patchman and Wilson (2006) specified student accountability as a critical factor in promoting student motivation (p. 680). Purpose The purpose of this action research study will be to examine the extent to which extrinsic rewards impact the motivation of Kindergarten students to complete homework assignments. Literature Review Many young children who enter Kindergarten have not yet developed self-management strategies to aid them in independent learning. The teacher provided homework to reinforce classroom learning, but few students completed the assignments by the due date. Previous research showed the importance of establishing a home-school connection for student achievement (Bogner, Raphael, & Pressley, 2002, p. 148). There was a need for the researcher and other educators to understand effective methods to motivate young students and to help them become responsible learners. Bogner et al. (2002) noted that holding students accountable for their own performance typically results in improved student engagement (p. 148). Patrick, Mantzicopoulos, Samarapungavan, and French (2008) concluded that a significant component of motivation is finding some merit or worth in the activity (p. 123). Teachers often use extrinsic rewards as a means to attach value to a task and to help students view the activity as desirable, if only for the reward that awaits them. Those extrinsic motivators include intangible rewards such as praise, a smile, or thumbs-up as well as tangible rewards like stickers, treats, or trinkets. Davis, Winsler, and Middleton (2006) stated that “how students perceive the reward likely determines how effective a motivator it is in the present and over time (p. 220). As students develop self-management strategies introduced through the use of extrinsic rewards and begin to assume responsibility for their own learning, they can begin to see the value of the reinforcement opportunities homework offers. Patchman and Wilson (2006) found that 17 of the 22 students in their study of literacy improvement strategies considered “having to read for homework” as “very important” (p. 682). Patrick et al. (2008) found that seeing a task or assignment as meaningful or useful is an important component of motivation (p. 123). Research Questions 1. Do extrinsic rewards motivate Kindergarten students to complete homework assignments? 2. Do extrinsic rewards motivate male and female Kindergarten students to complete homework assignments? 3. Do extrinsic rewards have a positive impact on student self-motivation? 4. Should extrinsic rewards be valued as a tool for affecting motivation in Kindergarten students? 5. What impact does the expectation of an extrinsic reward have on the quality of student work? Sample The sample for this action research will consist of 22 Kindergarten students in one class at a rural elementary school in East Texas. Data Collection Procedures/Instruments Before data collection begins, the researcher will file the necessary paperwork to request that the school district Institutional Review Board (IRB) approve this proposal for compliance with human subjects research. Once written approval has been received from the school district IRB, the researcher will contact the parents or legal guardians of each student in the class and ask them to provide written permission for their child to participate in the study. Only those students for whom written permission is obtained will be included in the study. Student names and personally identifying information about student participants will not be revealed when writing or sharing information about the research so that confidentiality may be maintained. This study will be conducted over a nine week period. The initial or baseline period will be for three weeks, and each of the two subsequent intervention periods will also comprise three weeks each. The student participants will be asked to bring a completed daily homework assignment to class. Tally marks will be made on a checklist to determine the number of times each student brings his or her assignment in the initial period of three weeks. During this initial period, no tangible or intangible extrinsic reward will be offered for assignments submitted, and the researcher will not make students aware of the record that is being kept. After this initial period, student participants will be rewarded with verbal praise each day a completed assignment is brought to class. Tally marks will be made on a checklist to determine the number of times each student brings his or her assignment in the second three week period of the study. In the final three week period of the study, student participants will be given a token extrinsic reward (a sticker) each day a completed assignment is brought to class. Tally marks will again be made on a checklist to determine the number of times each student brings his or her assignment in this final three week period of the study. Throughout the study, student work samples from the homework assignments will be collected, analyzed, and evaluated using a Product and Performance Assessment Form. This rating scale will compare the student’s work to that of other students the same age and grade level in each phase of the study. The form will also include a comments section for evaluator observations and notations. Student work samples will be evaluated for quality as well as completion. An attitude scale using graphics will be used to measure student perceptions concerning the importance of receiving a reward for completing assignments and to determine the value student participants assign to the extrinsic rewards used in the study. Additionally, the researcher will gather information in a research journal of thoughts and observations. This information will be examined for precision and patterns then grouped into categories and scrutinized to be sure enough data has been gathered to address the research question. An open-ended checklist will be created using the categories, and tally marks will indicate occurrences of specified behaviors. Data Analysis In order to answer question 1, “Do extrinsic rewards motivate Kindergarten students to complete homework assignments?” data collected from the checklist will be tallied. Measures of the mean will be calculated to include all participants for each three-week portion of the study. The mean will be used to determine any change in participants’ motivation and self-management behavior with the introduction of first an intangible and then a tangible extrinsic reward. The data will be graphed for visual comparisons. The number and percent of male and female participants will be determined using descriptive statistics in the form of frequencies and this information will help to address question 2, “Do extrinsic rewards motivate male and female Kindergarten students to complete homework assignments?” Measures of the mean will be calculated according to gender for each three-week portion of the study. The mean will be used to determine and compare any change in male and female participants’ motivation and self-management behavior with the introduction of the intangible and tangible extrinsic rewards. The data will be graphed to compare male and female tendencies. Questions 3 and 4 will be answered using data from the research journal of teacher observations and thoughts as well as by using the data from the attitude scale. The two questions of interest are: 3, “Do extrinsic rewards have a positive impact on student self-motivation?” and 4, “Should extrinsic rewards be valued as a tool for affecting motivation in Kindergarten students?” Student work samples collected during each phase of the study along with the accompanying Product and Performance Assessment Form will be used to answer question 5, “What impact does the expectation of an extrinsic reward have on the quality of student work?” This rating scale will compare the quality of the student’s work to that of other students the same age and grade level in each phase of the study. Limitations Several factors of this study may result in misleading information. The following risks will be anticipated for this study: 1. Kindergarten children may tend to agree with positive statements used in a survey. 2. Participants may feel the extrinsic rewards used in the study have little appeal. 3. The population is not a true random sample but a convenient sample taken for practical purposes. Action Plan This is a proposal; therefore, findings and conclusions are not available. However, if it is determined that the use of extrinsic rewards positively impacts the motivation of Kindergarten students to complete homework assignments in a quality manner, then the most effective extrinsic rewards identified in the study should be implemented to improve student achievement. References Bogner, Kristen, Raphael, Lisa, and Pressley, Michael. (2002). How grade 1 teachers motivate literate activity by their students. Scientific Studies of Reading, 6 (2), 135–165. Davis, Kelly D., Winsler, Adam, and Middleton, Michael. (2006). Students’ perceptions of rewards for academic performance by parents and teachers: relations with achievement and motivation in college. The Journal of Genetic Psychology,167(2), 211-220. Pachtman, Andrew B. and Wilson, Karen A. (2006). What do the kids think? The Reading Teacher, 59 (7), 680-684. Patrick, Helen, Mantzicopoulos, Panayota, Samarapungavan, Ala, and French, Brian F. (2008). Patterns of young children’s motivation for science and teacher-child relationships. The Journal of Experimental Education, 76 (2), 122-144.