Tag Archives: pre-K

Motivation: Extrinsic reward

Top-level category  Motivation: Extrinsic reward
App Name  Super Why!
App Maker Bean Creative, PBS, and Out of the Blue Enterprises LLC
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General Description The Super Why! app contains four different interactive activities. Each activity is associated with a different cartoon character. In “Alpha Pig’s Lickety Letter Hunt” the user identifies the correct letter from among several choices to complete words and help Alpha Pig find his way home; in Princess Presto’s Wands-Up Writing activity the user makes an object appear by tracing the shape of letters on the iPad screen; in Wonder Red’s Rhyming Time the user chooses a rhyming word from among several words; and in Super Why’s Story Saver the user selects a word from among several to complete a sentence from a story context. The user may make several attempts to find the correct answer; when the correct answer is chosen, the user receives a digital “sticker” that is briefly displayed on the screen.
Screenshot context This screenshot shows the character Super Why presenting the user with a digital “sticker” as a reward for choosing a correct answer. The sticker shows the character Rapunzel with long brown hair–a character from the story on the previous screen.
Explanation and/or commentary The digital “stickers” children earn in the Super Why! app are an example of an extrinsic reward. Unlike extrinsic rewards in other apps–which can sometimes be loud, long, and distracting, involving such things as an animated dancing monkey (e.g., the Reading Comprehension Level 1 app by Angela Reed)–this extrinsic reward is relatively lightweight and unobtrusive. The image on the sticker also has a connection to the sentence that was just read on the previous screen. In the example, the sticker shows Rapunzel–arguably providing an opportunity for a child or teacher to reinforce learning by saying something like, “Look, there’s Rapunzel on the sticker you just earned–with her long hair.” Still, many studies (see Lepper & Henderlong, 2000) exploring children’s motivation to learn have suggested that intrinsic motivation (i.e., motivation stemming from enjoyment of an activity and connected to an authentic, personally felt purpose for doing it) is in many ways preferable to extrinsic motivation (i.e., motivation linked to “goods” located outside the learner, such as praise from adults, or material rewards unrelated to the activity, such as a food reward earned for reading a book). Further, extrinsic rewards have been shown to often undermine intrinsic motivation (for a review, see Deci, Koestner, & Ryan, 1999). In sum, there are reasons to dislike the “sticker” rewards in this app and, when using the app with children, at the very least to downplay their importance.

Effectiveness: Memory processes, multiple sensory channels

Title  Effectiveness: memory processes, multiple sensory channels
App Name Grimm’s Rapunzel
App Maker Story Toys Inc.
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General Description Grimm’s Rapunzel is an interactive pop-up story book. It is designed for children of all ages and is meant to entertain and engage readers. The interactive pop-up features, which appear at regular intervals through the e-book, may reinforce children’s understanding of the story because they permit readers to act out selected events.
Screenshot context This particular pop up feature appears after children have read this text: “The man’s wife was taken with the beautiful flowers growing in the garden. She wished for them so much that one day, her husband ventured into the garden to fetch some for her. He would have to be careful though, because the garden belonged to an evil witch. Who knows what might happen if the witch discovered him there!” In this pop-up feature, the reader assumes the role of the husband. Readers pick flowers and apples for the wife by touching and then dragging them into the basket.
Explanation and/or commentary For young readers, the multi-modal and kinesthetic interactivity that these pop-up features afford may allow them to develop an embodied (Glenberg, 1997; Glenberg, Brown & Levin, 2007) understanding of the narrative. By touching the flowers and dragging them to the basket, children engage their bodies in the act of picking which may activate and expand their schemas of understanding for “picking flowers” or “gardens”. Conversely, pop-up features may divert students’ attention from other key ideas in the narrative. With a focus on the act of picking flowers, students might forget that the garden is owned by a witch or that something bad could happen to the husband for having stolen the flowers (both rather important ideas in this story). Teachers who choose this app, should therefore know that pop-up activities could undermine students’ overall understanding of the Rapunzel story because they draw attention to some elements of the story over others.