Dylan Kerr

Primary Teacher

Tollbrae Primary

  • Digital Learning: Methodologies

Use of reward systems as part of online learning


Maintaining pupil engagement during lessons is a challenge faced by all educators. Robinson and Hullinger (2008) state it is the responsibility of pupils to engage in the learning process, but it is the teacher’s responsibility to create an environment that fosters pupil engagement and overcomes the challenges faced by pupils. It is evidently found that online learning proves to be further challenging for all educators compared to face-to-face learning. Levy (2007) discovered that there are higher dropout rates for online courses. This is supported by the findings of Lucas, Nelson and Sims (2019) as they found during remote learning, teachers remain in contact with sixty percent of their pupils, but over ninety percent of teachers believe that their pupils are doing less work than they should be doing if they were in school. With student engagement being vital for their success (Reyes et al., 2012), pupil engagement and academic performances can be enhanced through how teachers promote classroom interactions (Pianta, La Paro & Hamre, 2008). One such method is using a Secret Student reward to promote positive behaviour and encourage children to participate in their own learning. With this reward, a Secret Student is selected at random each day. All pupils are unaware of when they are Secret Student, which encourages them to engage regularly and demonstrate positive online behaviours. If a child achieves the targets of Secret Student, they are told the following day on their live lesson and provided with a certificate to further promote positive behaviour and pupil engagement throughout remote learning.


The aims of the enquiry were to:

  • Encourage children in a Primary 4/5 class to engage with online learning by implementing a ‘Secret Student’ reward system.
Download Practitioner Enquiry