'Engaged Learning' Teaches without Bribery

'Engaged Learning' Teaches without Bribery


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Nadine Wimmer ReportingA high school in Massachusetts now offers their students more than just an education -- they are paying them for good attendance. The program is just one example of how schools are attempting to motivate students. But two Utah teachers feel there is a better way.

Candy, coupons and now even money -- all ways we applaud our students' good performance. But is it a reward or bribery?

In Ms. Morris' 9th grade English class you can't earn extra credit, but you can earn something even better.

Lori Morris, Granite High School: "It's a wider picture. It's a way of thinking and a way of negotiating yourself through what you are learning and actually through your whole life."

Morris puts to practice a method she calls "engaged learning." The goal is to motivate students from within, putting the focus on what she feels should matter most.

Lori Morris: "We can't continually try to get a bigger and bigger prize at the end of the day because eventually you can't find a bigger prize."

Morris and teacher Thom Olsen have spent the last two years sharing this approach with other teachers at Granite High School. They say programs solely based on a reward only bring short-term success.

Thomas Olsen, Granite High School: "We need to teach them what they need in order to be successful the rest of their lives, not just during an academic school year."

They say it starts with (1) teaching kids to self-evaluate -- to assess their own work. Once students (2) reflect on their efforts -- and learn to identify what they did well -- they can then (3) set goals for themselves and work toward future improvement.

Thomas Olsen: "It isn't reward and punishment that moves kids. It's thinking about your own learning, thinking about your own understanding. That's what drives you to move further and ultimately leads to success."

Lori Morris: "They become life-long learners, which is what we are after."

Morris says this technique doesn't just apply to the classroom, even parents tend to throw out bribes of their own sometimes.

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