Megan Kay

Primary Teacher

Shawhead Primary

  • Digital Learning: Methodologies

Use of reward systems as part of online learning


Classroom management and behaviour management are vital in the successful learning of young people and can often be a challenge in education (Walker, Ramsey & Gresham, 2004). Student motivation affects every aspect of school life, from attendance, to academic performance, to extra-curricular activities. Furthermore, promoting the greatest student motivation possible is extremely important for every teacher especially in today’s educational climate, where schools are continuously under pressure to improve test scores, responsibility and accountability (Baranek, 1996). A direct link can be seen between student motivation and the use of reward systems within learning. Supporting this is Raymond (2008) who suggests that using reward systems can be a way to ’jump start’ student motivation. As a result, for this particular enquiry a decision was made to develop a ‘Secret Student’ system when interacting with children and teaching them online. This was going to be used for a desired outcome, to see if children were in fact more motivated and engaged to complete tasks online if a reward was implemented. All children were told the criteria of what the Secret Student would look like and this is what would be looked for throughout the day. This included things such as attending and participating in live lessons as well as completing and uploading work. The children were told the ‘Secret Student’ would be chosen at the end of the school day, and revealed the next day during the live teaching session. This gave students ample time to complete and upload work at home if they were not able to join the live session thus keeping it fair for all students to be considered. It was important to consider reward systems as children were outside the formal classroom environment therefore more likely to face distractions when participating in learning. McLean (2009) supports this by highlighting the inevitable difficulties that teachers often face when trying to motivate children, particularly those who can become distracted easily. Therefore, it was hoped this enquiry would motivate all children to participate in online lessons and complete the work being set. This could be the case as Jones (2000) highlights positive reward incentives as a powerful form of motivation. Furthermore, Garbe, Ogurlu, Logan and Cook (2020) suggest that there is a “Lack of Learner Motivation Specifically related to Remote Learning”. It is reported in the study that children have reduced motivation due to a lack of social interaction and celebration of learning acheivements. It was important to use a reward system to assess student motivation and engagement as the study also highlights a link between student motivation and incentives provided to work hard.


This small-scale enquiry aimed to look at if introducing a reward system would increase student engagement with live lessons and online learning tasks. Drexler (2010) notes that reward based systems are often used, to increase participation and intrinsic motivation, which supported the creation of the enquiry aim. In this enquiry it was hoped that children would:

  1. Join live teaching sessions daily
  2. Complete work set and upload to allow for feedback
Download Practitioner Enquiry