Our Blog

How to Use a Points Reward System to Encourage Students’ Learning

29th June 2018

Why are reward points so effective for motivating pupils?

Reward points are the most popular awards systems in schools. The concept is simple - awarding students points for effort or good behaviour that will result in them achieving a prize once they have collected a certain number of points. 

Rewarding students encourages pupil motivation and endorses school effort. In turn, this produces improved outcomes for students.

The benefits of pupil rewards are manifold:

✔ Increased confidence

For students that lack self-esteem, pupil rewards can really boost their confidence. A points system where they can see the points adding up as a reflection of their success at school will continue to encourage them and keep them focused on their end goal

✔ Better grades

When you motivate students to work harder, they will learn more and therefore their chances of getting better grades improve

✔ Happier students

Rewards for success makes students happy and being happy makes them more productive!

✔ Appropriate behaviour

The positive reinforcement of rewarding good behaviour means it will become natural to the student. You may even find that your students start to remind their peers how to behave correctly!

✔ Completed homework

Psychologists recommend rewarding homework for continued positive reinforcement. The idea is that your pupils will soon begin to take pride in their homework as it becomes routine.

Planning a points rewards system is vital

It is crucial that pupil rewards are given carefully and with a well planned strategy. If not, there can be negative consequences such as devaluation if rewards are simply expected by the students. 

Other negative results that come from lack of strategy are addiction to rewards - essentially not working without them - rushing work to get pupil reward points, students feeling increased pressure or teachers using rewards as simple bribery. 

However, one key reason why pupil reward points work is that they facilitate what psychologist Alan Kazdin calls ‘repeated practice’.  The more a student does good things that earn reward points, the more routine that behaviour becomes, until it becomes second nature.

How can pupils earn reward points?

To avoid any of the negative consequences associared with student rewards, think about using a creative rewards system. Here are some fun examples:

  • A points system to promote school values

One of the ways you can encourage good student behaviour is to write each pupil’s name on a board in the classroom. They can earn a tick next to their name when they have demonstrated good behaviour or shown school values. 

The list of values can be things like: 

  • Kindness

  • Responsibility

  • Courage

  • Achievement

  • Community

  • Creativity

  • Knowledge

  • Respect

  • Service

Once a student has earned a certain number of ticks, they can be rewarded by a trip to the headteacher’s office for a congratulatory handshake and certificate presentation. 

At the end of the year you could have an awards ceremony with the pupils who have won the most points receiving reward trophies or medals.

  • Award pupil reward points for homework

Reward points for homework can also be really effective. For example, give one point if a  student hands their homework in on time, two points if they hand their homework in early and three points if they display extra effort. Homework points can be awarded on a class wall chart.

When your students have been awarded a certain number of points they can choose to miss the next homework in exchange for the points gained so far. The key is that the children with the most points at the end of each term will be awarded a prize. 

  • Star charts and ‘trees’

For younger children, a very visual and attractive wall display works well. For example, each child can make a print of their hand to make up the 'leaves' of a tree on the wall.

Every time a student is rewarded for good behaviour they receive a star sticker that they can put on a finger of their handprint. Once they have five stars they can take their handprint home and receive a certificate from the headteacher.

  • Online pupil reward points

There is a growing trend for online rewards systems which encourage children to become computer savvy and their love of playing computer games to promote good behaviour and teamwork. 

What could the overall student rewards be?

The ultimate reward for collecting pupil reward points is a key decision as it will inspire pupil motivation by focusing on an achievable goal. 

Prizes will depend on the age group of the students and their interests and personalities, but could include:

  • Medals

  • Trophies

  • Certificates

  • Book vouchers

  • Stickers

  • Picking a game to play at break time

  • Sitting with a friend

  • Being the teacher’s helper for the day

  • Using the teacher’s chair

  • Taking home the class pet

You should use verbal praise to reward your students, however, sometimes you can’t connect with a student with words so tangible rewards can help when words don’t work. 

Make sure that you reward effort rather than results and you will see the difference in a happier, more productive class.