HomeThe Asia-Pacific Education Researchervol. 8 no. 2 (1999)

Perceived Effectiveness of Classroom Rewards and Deterrents by Students and Teachers in Four Countries

Robert Burns

Discipline: Education



A series of studies conducted in England, South Africa, Australia and Brunei in which a total of 1997 students and their teachers (N = 241) ranked lists of20 deterrents and 10 rewards in terms of their subjectively perceived effectiveness revealed consistent findings across countries. All studies demonstrate lack of congruity (random in three studies) between student and teacher rankings on both rewards and deterrents, although less so in the latter. Students manifested considerable consistency (p < .01) across ethnic groups in their rankings of both rewards and deterrents. Teachers were less consistent but still significantly so. There were no significant gender differences in the rank orders of perceived effectiveness for deterrents or rewards in any of the studies. This lack of congruence over deterrents and rewards suggests that there are almost global teacher and student opinions of relative effectiveness of punishments and rewards and that teachers worldwide have limited insight into how their students actually perceive these. More effective classroom control will result from understanding student perceptions on rewards and deterrents and bring improvement in their educational motivation and performance for the future.