Motivational/Reward System Pro's/Con's the Learning Term Paper

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On the one hand, it can increase the uncertainty he accumulated during the time in which he was subject to abusive treatment. On the other hand, he can limit the level of trust he offers to any superior with authority. Therefore, the punishment-based system of motivation can cause serious long-term effects.

Another reason for which punishment-based motivation systems is not useful for the construction of a stable and reliable motivation is the fact that it is not built or it does not appeal to a system of values based on mutual respect. More precisely, the element of fear present in the relationship between the professor and the student is not able to have a consistent contribution to the establishment of a respectful relationship and once the fear is gone, an offensive attitude replaces any submissive behavior from the part of the student. Moreover, he comes to reject any future authority.

By opposition to the punishment-based motivation system, the reward-based system can be considered as being a more effective method, taking into account the long-term benefits. However, in this case as well, it is important to distinguish certain elements that play a role in determining the influence of the reward system on the creation of motivation.

On the one hand, a reward-based motivation system takes into account a positive approach to the entire process. (Sorenson et al., 1993) Unlike the previously mentioned method in which fear and constrain were used in order to achieve a certain goal and assignment, in this case fear is not an element one works with. On the contrary, the expected goals must be achieved through a positive method of stimulation, and not one related to violence or psychological obligation.

On the other hand, the reward is considered by analysts to be an external factor of the process. (Cameron and Price, 2002) in more precise terms, this system includes the material involvement of outside factors which may help the human intuition into developing their own system of motivation. From this point-of-view, however, there are voices who argue against such a system and who consider it to be counter effective due to the limited influence possible material incentives may have on the human psychic. Also, should such a system be totally applicable without any modifications, it is considered that it could negatively affect the individual precisely because of the type of rewards offered as incentives. The result may depend on the results themselves and thus influence the outcome.

There are indeed both advantages and disadvantages to the issue of reward-based motivation. One of the most common techniques is the goal setting technique. (Sorenson et al., 1993) in this situation, the professor most often sets different aims in particular related to academic behavior in order for the student to have a special and well defined target. While the goal is the final point in the process, the success of reaching that goal represents the actual motivation. In particular, "to be task-oriented means that one has a goal of learning or mastering an activity while having an ego-orientation means striving to be better than others. Success is perceived to be attained if these respective goals have been achieved" (Zizzi et al., 2006). In this way, while there is a certain type of incentive which appeals to the inherent state of the human being, the competitive state, there is also the road towards reaching that goal, which is the actual learning process. In the end, both the goal is reached and the student has accomplished his assignment, and his human side has been satisfied.

Another element in the goal oriented motivation system is the environment one creates in achieving that respective goal. However, before undergoing such an activity it is important to take into consideration the group or individuals targeted by the proposed goal setting action. Therefore, a proper environment should be created for sport students and a different one should be for music students. In the sport activities, goal setting is essential for establishing motivation. In this sense, "goal orientation assessment may indeed be linked to exercise behavior and adherence in a useful manner" (Kilpatrick, 2003). This is due to the fact that both the intellect and the rigors of the ego are satisfied.

Another benefit for the reward oriented motivation system is the trust-based relationship existing between the professor and the student. Taking into account the fact that the goal setting approach represents two types of incentives, an academic one and an ego related one, it rarely paints a negative perspective on the person proposing the goals. In this sense, a trust-based motivation system is created which is applicable both to the academic world as well as to the business world. (Hurlbert, 2006) However, one of the disadvantages of this approach is the fact that in certain cases a lack of authority can be created and the student or even employee can lose the respect for a higher authority and inevitably any desire to achieve the goals set by him. Consequently, a lack of discipline may take the place of respect.

Therefore, it is important to prevent the negative aspects of the punishment-based motivation system, but maintain the rigors of its standards; at the same time, the approaches of the reward-based motivation system are also useful for a long-term motivational framework. Therefore, it is essential that a combination of the two approaches be achieved.


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Cook, J. (October-November 2003) Motivational Strategies: The Outcome Starts Here Motivating through Extrinsic and Intrinsic Rewards. American Music Teacher. Vol. 53, issue 2..

Hurlbert, W. (2006). Employee motivation: Build trust and respect. Big Business World. 2006. Retrieved 14 January 2008, at

Kilpatrick, M., et al., (2003). The measurement of goal orientations in exercise. Journal of Sport Behavior, 26, 121-136.

Sorenson, R. L, et al. (1993) Motivating Students to Improve Business Writing: A Comparison Between Goal-Based and Punishment-Based Grading Systems. Journal of Business Communication, Vol. 30, No. 2, 113-132.

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