From Stickers to Scholarships: Creative Rewards to Boost Student Engagement

Engaging students in their learning is a key factor in their academic success. When students are interested in what they are learning, they are more motivated, curious, and more likely to retain the information. However, motivating students can be a challenging task for educators. One approach to address this challenge is to incorporate creative rewards to boost student engagement. This article explores the use of creative rewards, ranging from stickers to scholarships, to increase student engagement and academic success.

Stickers and Other Incentives for Younger Students

For younger students, stickers and other small incentives can have a significant impact on their motivation and engagement. In one study, researchers found that providing students with stickers for correct answers led to a significant improvement in their academic performance, especially in low-performing students. Additionally, providing small rewards for good behavior, such as pencils or erasers, has been found to increase student engagement and promote positive classroom behavior. These small rewards not only motivate students but also provide a sense of accomplishment and recognition, which can be especially important for students who struggle academically.

Badges and Points for Older Students

As students progress through their academic careers, they may require different types of rewards to stay motivated. For older students, digital badges and points can be effective in increasing engagement. Digital badges are a type of online recognition that students can earn for completing tasks or demonstrating specific skills. In one study, researchers found that the use of digital badges led to an increase in student motivation, engagement, and self-directed learning. Similarly, gamifying the learning experience by awarding points for completing tasks or reaching milestones has been found to increase student engagement and motivation.

Scholarships and Other Long-Term Rewards

For high school students and beyond, long-term rewards such as scholarships and recognition can be effective in motivating and engaging students. Scholarships are a particularly effective reward, as they not only provide financial support but also recognize academic achievement. In one study, researchers found that students who were offered a scholarship were more likely to attend college and had higher academic performance than those who were not offered a scholarship. Additionally, public recognition for academic achievement, such as being named valedictorian or receiving an academic award, can provide a sense of pride and accomplishment for students.

Considerations for Implementing Creative Rewards

While creative rewards can be an effective tool for increasing student engagement, it is important to consider several factors when implementing them. First, rewards should be age-appropriate and aligned with learning objectives. For example, while stickers may be effective for younger students, older students may require more complex rewards such as badges or scholarships. Additionally, rewards should be accessible to all students and not create a sense of competition or inequality in the classroom.

Furthermore, rewards should not be used as the sole motivator for learning. Research has shown that extrinsic rewards can undermine intrinsic motivation, which is the internal desire to learn and achieve. Therefore, it is important to balance the use of rewards with opportunities for students to engage in learning for its own sake.


Incorporating creative rewards into the classroom can be an effective tool for increasing student engagement and motivation. From stickers to scholarships, rewards can provide a sense of recognition, accomplishment, and even financial support for students. However, it is important to consider the age-appropriateness and alignment of rewards with learning objectives, as well as to balance the use of rewards with opportunities for students to engage in learning for its own sake. With these considerations in mind, educators can use creative rewards to support student success and engagement in the classroom.

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