Article Review #3

Hello to all! Here is the last article review, number 3 out of 3. You can read the first review here and the second review here.

I had a hard time choosing an article to review for this assignment. I really wanted to review an article about motivation, and I had found one that was extremely intriguing; however, it was about 24 pages long! I was looking for 5-8 page (or fewer) articles to review! So, I kept looking for another article, trying to find something interesting to me yet short enough for the only-a-week-to-finish assignment. I was able to find a couple things that were kind of interesting, but nothing really struck a chord with me. So, I finally gave in wrote my review on the 24-page article. I was so happy that I did! It’s always 10x easier to do an assignment when you can use material that is exciting to you already!

Motivation Theory Article Review

Deci, Koestner, and Ryan (2001) wrote their article to discuss the use of rewards and motivation in response to a previous article put out by Cameron and Pierce. They began by identifying what they believed to be the flaws in the research methods and conclusions of said authors. They then explained their own theory of learning, which includes self-determination, and clarified the difference between rewards that give feedback and those that pressure conformity. They further separated rewards of abstract praise from those of physical tokens. Their own research methods and findings were then discussed in detail, and they concluded that both praise and token rewards can either enhance or undermine intrinsic motivation, depending on when they are given and for what type of behavior. For the most part, however, rewarding with tokens decreased intrinsic motivation if it was already high and did little to enhance the perceived value of a task that was deemed uninteresting, even if it kept the subject engaged. Thus, the authors cautioned teachers to use rewards with care and instead focus on increasing desire to learn by evaluating and addressing the causes of disinterest.

The one thing that I believe gives Deci and his associates’ article its strength is their emphasis of other factors, such as values, motives, and class-spirit, which play a greater role in motivation than rewards. These long-term factors can be manipulated with much better results on motivation than can mere short-term prizes. Other than this, the weaknesses in this article are evident. Most prominent is the fact that the authors’ conclusions are not in complete agreement with their research. Cameron (2001), in a reply to the article, also noticed this inconsistency. Even though Deci, Koestner, and Ryan’s (2001) research supported the fact that certain types and usages of rewards could increase motivation, they still remained adamant in their caution against its implementation.

The purpose of this article is to show what effects rewards have on the inherent desire to learn and to advise teachers to be careful in their use of rewards, instead focusing on other factors to increase self-motivation. Despite the fact that some of their research does not seem to match their opinions, the authors do have a point in that rewards can be overused and abused. Even Cameron (2001) agreed that there are certain types of rewards that do undermine intrinsic motivation. Deci, Koestner, and Ryan (2001) are fully in line with McCullough (2008), who also believed that giving an external reward to a student who is already internally motivated would decrease that intrinsic motivation. McCullough likewise emphasized that classroom atmosphere and increased quality of education should be the focus, rather than rewards. Schunk (2012), however, is in more agreement with Cameron (2001) that rewards can be used strategically to boost intrinsic motivation if they are given based on the quality of the work. The constructivist theory, which is similar to my personal learning theories, says little about motivation or which types are best. Constructivists simply believe that motivation is constructed based on personal perception (Schunk, 2012), which could support the idea that rewards could be intrinsically motivating based on how they are perceived and processed.

Personally, I do not agree with Deci, Koestner, and Ryan (2001) that external rewards should never be used. I like to view sticker charts, praise, prizes, and points as catalysts that can used to ignite or feed the fire of intrinsic motivation. I find myself agreeing more with Cameron (2001) that the right use of external rewards will not undermine inherent motivation. However, the authors of this article do make a point that I believe should not be overlooked: Sometimes our emphasis is far too much on rewards instead of on the other learning environment factors that can affect motivation. For this reason, I still give Deci, Koestner, and Ryan’s (2001) article credence.


Cameron, J. (2001). Negative effects of reward on intrinsic motivation—a limited phenomenon: Comment on Deci, Koestner, and Ryan (2001). Review of education research, 71(1), 29-42. Retrieved from the ProQuest database.

Deci, E. L.; Koestner, R.; & Ryan, R. (2001). Extrinsic rewards and intrinsic motivation in education: Reconsidered once again. Review of education research, 71(1), 1-27. Retrieved from the ProQuest database.

McCullough, J. D. (2008). Kingdom living in your classroom. Colorado Springs, CO: Purposeful Design Publications.

Schunk, D. H. (2012). Learning theories: An educational perspective [6th ed.]. Boston, MA: Pearson Education, Inc.


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