Is the Carrot and Stick Method Useful in Higher Education?

Consider how the process of learning begins for students. As a general perceptual rule, when students begin their degree programs they hope to obtain good grades, useful skills, and relevant knowledge. The tuition paid assures placement in a class and there are implied results that students expect as a product of their involvement in that class. In contrast, instructors expect that students will obey the academic rules, perform to the best of their abilities, and comply with specific class requirements that include deadlines for completion of learning activities.

For students, grades serve as an indicator of their progress in class, a symbol of their accomplishments and failures, and a record of their standing in a degree program. I have heard many students state that their primary goal for the class was to earn what they refer to as “good grades” – even though they may not be fully aware of what constitutes a good grade for them. When students aren’t achieving good grades, or the minimum expected by instructors and/or the school, instructors may try to nudge them on – either through positive motivational methods such as coaching and mentoring, or negative motivational methods that include threats and a demeaning disposition.

I found that many educators dangle a carrot in front of their students through indirect methods, such as the potential to earn a better grade, as an “A” in an indicator of the ultimate achievement in school. There may be incentives given to prompt better performance, including additional time or a resubmission allowance for a written assignment, as a means of encouraging students to perform better.

My question is whether the focus of teaching in higher education should be on the carrot we dangle in front of students to perform better or should there be more of a focus on what motivates each individual student to perform to the best of their abilities? In other words, do we need to be dangling something in front of students to serve as a source of motivation?

What is the Carrot and Stick Method?

I believe that most people understand the meaning of dangling a carrot in front of students to motivate them. The phrase is actually based upon a tale about a method of motivating a donkey and while the carrot is dangling in front of it, the stick is used to prod the animal along. The carrot serves as a reward and the stick is used as a form of reinforcement and punishment for non-compliance.

This approach is still used in the workplace, even subconsciously by managers, as a method of motivating employees. The carrot or incentives may include a promotion, pay increase, different assignments, and the list continues. The stick that is used, or the punishment for not reaching specific goals or performance levels, may include demotion or a job loss. A threat of that nature can serve as a powerful motivator, even if the essence of this approach is negative and stressful.

The Carrot and Stick Approach in Higher Education

If you are uncertain about the use of this approach in higher education, consider the following example. You are providing feedback for a written assignment and it is now the halfway point in the class. For one particular student, you believe they have not met the criteria for the assignment and more importantly, they have either not put in enough effort, they did not perform to your expectations, or they did not live up to their full potential.

It is worth mentioning that your beliefs about students are shaped by how you view them and their potential. In other words, I try to see my students as individuals who have varying levels of performance and that means some will be further along than others. In contrast, instructors who believe they do not have enough time to get to know their students as individuals may view the class as a whole and set an expectation regarding the overall performance level that all students should be at for this particular point in the class.

Returning to the example provided, my question to you is this: Do you reward the attempt made by the student or do you penalize that student for what you perceive to be a lack of effort? As a faculty trainer, I have interacted with many faculty who believe that all students should be high performers and earning top grades, regardless of their background and prior classes. When students fail to meet that expectation, there is a perception that students either do not care, they are not trying, or they are not reading and applying the feedback provided. The instructor’s response then is to dangle a carrot (incentive) and use the stick to try to change the necessary student behaviors.

Relevance for Adult Learning

There is a perception held by many educators, especially those who teach in traditional college classes, that the instructors are in control and students must comply. This reinforces a belief within students that they do not have control over their outcomes and that is why many believe grades are beyond their control. I have seen many students stop trying by the time they were enrolled in a class I was teaching simply because they could not make a connection between the effort they have made to the outcomes or grades received. In other words, while they believed they were doing everything “right” – they were still getting poor grades.

At the heart of the adult learning process is motivation. There are as many degrees of motivation as there are types of students and it is not realistic to expect that all students will be performing at the same level. I’ve learned through time and practice that adult student behaviors do not or will not permanently change as a result of forced compliance. However, behaviors will change in time when an instructor has built a connection with their students and established a sense of rapport with them. I encourage instructors to think beyond dangling a carrot and try to influence behavior, and not always through the use of rewards.

From a Carrot to a Connection

It is important for instructors to create a climate and classroom conditions that are conducive to engaging students, while becoming aware of (and recognizing) that all students have a capacity to learn and some gradually reach their potential while others develop much more quickly. My instructional approach has shifted early on from a rewards or carrot focus to a student focus. I want to build connections with students and nurture productive relationships with them, even when I am teaching an online class and have the distance factor to consider. I encourage students to make an effort and I welcome creative risks. I teach students to embrace what they call their failures as valuable learning lessons. I encourage their involvement in the learning process, prompt their original thinking during class discussions, and I teach them that their efforts do influence the outcomes received.

I recognize that this type of approach is not always easy to implement when classroom management is time consuming, and this is especially true for adjunct instructors. However, at a very minimum it can become an attitude and part of an engaging instructional practice. I encourage instructors to include it as part of their underlying teaching philosophy so they recognize and work to implement it. Every educator should have a well-thought out teaching philosophy as it guides how they act and react to students and classroom conditions. A student focus, rather than a carrot and stick focus, creates a shift in perspective from looking first at the deficits of students and seeing their strengths – along with their potential. It is an attitude of looking away from lack and looking towards meaning in the learning process, and a shift from seeing an entire class to viewing students individually. My hope is that this inspires you to re-evaluate and re-examine how teach your students and consider new methods of prompting their best performance.



Source by Dr. Bruce A. Johnson

US Education Sector: A Detailed Review

The USA prides itself as having one of the top nations with the most effective and functional educational systems. The US has been consistently working towards the improvement of the country’s education-related initiatives.

The government has consolidated programs that not only offer federal loans, but it also includes academic grants to eligible scholars who attempt to continue their schooling and acquire a degree in a certain field of expertise.

In order to constantly ensure the correct consolidation of these initiatives, the U. S. government has established several agencies which are intended solely for the administration of education-related initiatives.

First up is the U. S. Department of Education, most commonly referred to as the ED or USED. The agency, established in October of 1979, was built to ensure that efficient channels are present in terms the administration and consolidation of educational laws, policies, programs, and initiatives.

The mission of the Department of Education is to”establish policy for, administer and coordinate most federal help to education, collect data on US schools, and to impose federal educational laws relating to privacy and civil rights.”

For more specific concerns, the Department of Education has established a few sub-agencies or divisions, namely:

a) Institute of Education Sciences – This division was created as a part of Education Sciences Reform Act of 2002 and is the primary research arm of the United States Department of Education.

b) Federal Student Aid (FSA) – This division of the ED is the largest provider of financial aid in the United States in the form of grants, loans, and work-study funds. The mission of the FSA is to”ensure that all qualified Americans benefit from federal financial assistance grants, loans and work-study programs for education beyond high school.”

In the year 2011, the FSA was reported to administer roughly $144 billion to almost 15 million postsecondary students and their respected families.

c) National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) – This agency is operating under the United States Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences and it’s primarily tasked to gather, investigate, and share statistical data on education and public school district finance data all over the United States of America.

d) Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS) – Another program of the ED that has continually been aiming at achieving its major agency mission which is to”to provide leadership to reach full integration and collusion in society of people with incapacities by guaranteeing equal opportunity and access to, and excellence in, education, employment and community living.



Source by Iola Bonggay

Stop Making Special Education Harder Than it Really Is

Really, It’s Not Rocket Science, You Can Do It!

Most parents either don’t attempt to get fully involved in the special education process or are too involved in the technical side of the process. The bottom line is that your child’s education is to prepare them for further education, employment and independent living as deemed by the federal law IDEA.If your child’s program is not preparing them, then it’s time to start working with the school team for change.

Why are you so overwhelmed with the special education process? Your child has a golden ticket call the IEP to give them an individual curriculum to meet their needs for the future. Children in the general curriculum do not have that option.

Here are some tips on making the system work for you:

  • Network with other parents in your district to see what resources are available.
  • Services that are appropriate for your child must relate to preparation for further education, employment, and independent living.
  • Work from the bottom to the top. Meet with the teacher on tweaking program needs before you call in a supervisor.
  • Write everything down! If you are prepared for negotiations, you probably won’t have to negotiate.

Overall, your parent instincts should guide your decisions about your child’s education. If you don’t feel that you child is being serviced appropriately, they probably aren’t. Follow the simple tips above to make special education work for your family. Becoming a leader on your child’s IEP team will truly bring the entire family success.



Source by Catherine Whitcher

5 Ways to Overcome the Delphi Technique in Special Education!

Are you the parent of a child with a disability who receives special education services? Do you wonder if special education personnel are manipulating the IEP team to make predetermined decisions, usually different than what your child needs? Would you like to learn about the Delphi technique and how to overcome it? This article will give you the ammunition and information you need to overcome the manipulation that is part of the Delphi technique, and finally get your child the special education services they need!

The Delphi technique was initially developed so that experts in a particular field would be able to come to a consensus. Over the years the use has been distorted so that now it is being used to pit members of one group against members of another group. This is done by the meeting facilitator who asks all members of the group what their position on the issue at hand is. They find other group members that agree with their position, and manipulate them to turn against the members of the group that do not agree with them. This is an unethical way to get the group to agree to whatever the predetermined outcome was!

This technique is being used in special education to pit IEP team members against parents and any other people that take the parents side.

Below are 5 ways to overcome the Delphi technique for your child’s benefit:

1. Recognize when the technique is being used, and expose it! Take copies of information on the Delphi technique to any school meeting especially an IEP meeting if you suspect that this technique is being used! Exposure is one way to overcome this unethical technique!

2. Always be charming-never at any point become angry! No matter how many personal attacks come or what the facilitator says stay calm! Why? Because if the facilitator or coordinator can get you angry then they look like the victim. By staying calm despite personal attacks will make you look like the victim, and not the coordinator. Other group members may them take your side because it looks like you are being verbally attacked!

3. Stay focused on the issue and your position on the issue. Use my favorite advocacy technique-repeat, repeat, repeat! If the facilitator tries and puts you on the defensive and change the subject keep repeating what your opinion or question is over and over until the facilitator actually answers the question.

4. If the coordinator begins a long dragged out dissertation on the issue listen calmly. They are trying to distract you and get you angry. When the person is finished bring up your opinion or the question again! Stay focused on the particular issue at hand and do not be distracted.

5. It is important to note that if this technique is being used in a larger meeting, say a school board meeting, it will look a little different. If the people that disagree with the meeting coordinator remain calm and keep bringing the subject back to the issue at hand; the person may ask for a break. Stay away from people that agree with you, and do a little spying on the coordinator and their group of people. This tactic will prevent them from sending in spies to your group, so that they can find out what your next step is!

I think the hardest part of overcoming this technique is to not become upset when you are personally attacked in a meeting-IEP or other type of meeting. I have been called names and told that I am stupid for caring and defending children with disabilities rights, to an appropriate education. My feeling is that if they are attacking me they have nothing to counter what I am saying, and I do not let it bother me.

The Delphi technique must be found, exposed and overcome for the good of all children with disabilities!



Source by JoAnn Collins

Why Is Hunter Education Important?

Hunter education began in the late 1950’s with a very narrow focus on basic safety. It concentrated on topics related to conservation, knowledge of firearms, safety, ethics, and responsibilities. Since its inception, over ¾ of a million youth and adults have completed the course. Initially, it was voluntary, but in 1979 it became a requirement that all first time hunters successfully complete the course in order to purchase a license. This requirement exists in 49 states and all provinces in Canada. Presentation of a valid Hunter Education Card from one state will allow the purchase of a license or permit in other states, however, there may be additional educational requirements for hunting with archery, a handgun, or muzzle-loading equipment.

This course and other conservation activities are paid for by sportsmen. The Pittman-Robertson Act, also called the Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act, was signed into law in 1937. The act provided funds for states to acquire hunting land, conduct research, manage wildlife populations and pay for hunter education programs by placing an excise tax on firearms and ammunition.

The course curriculum includes firearm safety which includes shotguns, rifles and handguns. It emphasizes the four primary safety rules that apply to all arms: (1) Always keep the muzzle pointed in a safe direction, (2) Treat every gun as if it is loaded, (3) Always be sure of your target and beyond, and (4) Keep your finger off the trigger until you are ready to fire. The course also places a strong emphasis on being a responsible hunter and on wildlife conservation.

These educational programs have made hunting one of the safest of all the outdoor recreational activities. In Ohio, in a typical year, fewer than 7/100,000 of 1% of Ohio hunters are injured with a gun or bow while actively hunting. In fact, you are at greater risk while traveling in your vehicle to and from your hunting location.

There are several ways in which the sport of hunting benefits our society. First, the license fees, self-imposed taxes, and hunting permits and stamps finance many wildlife management activities. Second, wildlife has benefitted from regulated hunting and habitat protection, resulting in more species of wildlife than ever before. And finally, there are the benefits to the hunter himself. For some, it is the solitude or the appreciation of nature, while for others it may be time shared with family or friends. Others may enjoy the challenge presented in outwitting a particular species.

As shown in this article, the Hunter Education Course not only provides instruction leading to safe hunting practices, it also funds wildlife protection, habitat, and management. It provides new hunters with the knowledge to challenge the great outdoors and the skills to do it safely.



Source by Molly Jewett