Essays in Education


This work will examine the link between intrinsic motivation and external rewards by describing the experiences of twenty-seven academically under-performing adolescents who were enrolled in an after school program in a New York City public junior high school that implemented a token economy. The goals of the implemented token economy were to establish an objective measure of student competence, to enhance student perceptions of their autonomy, and to establish links between their classroom-based learning and its practical “real world” applications. It is argued that by achieving these goals, the token economy serves as a tool for enhancing levels of self-efficacy and providing opportunities for students to view their behaviors as self-determined. In this way, the token economy can be viewed as a mechanism for enhancing levels of intrinsic motivation through the use of external rewards.

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