Despite the large body of research done on learning, more data is needed
to understand the relationship between how people learn and what motivates
Past research has indicated that when students are given an incentive to
learn or perform an unfamiliar skill, they will perform at a higher rate
of success (Benowitz & Busse, 1975).
Researchers have found that offering an incentive, such as money or candy,
acts as a reinforcement to perform successfully at a given task and also,
aids in the retention of new information (Flora & Flora, 1999).
Previous studies indicated that video presentation techniques result in
superior learning, more so than formats such as text, because mental imagery
can increase the amount of material remembered (De Hann et al., 2000).
It was hypothesized that the scores on the questionnaire would rank in
the following order: 1) the video expected incentive group 2) video unexpected
incentive group 3) text expected incentive group and 4) the text unexpected
Sixty Mount Holyoke College female students aged 18 to 60.
The students participated on a volunteer basis either by recruitment directly
from the researchers or in response to posted flyers.
Participants who are currently enrolled in Psych 100 or Psych 201 were
offered 1/2 of a research credit for their time.
An 8-minute clip from a History Channel special "History uncovered; Doolittle’s
Raiders One Hour Over Tokyo," was used.
A text version of this video clip was used for the text-based learning
A 10 multiple choice and 5 short answer questionnaire.
One tootsie pop per participant was used as an incentive.
Testing occurred in the Reese Psychology building.
Prior to arrival, participants were randomly divided into four groups:
(1)expected incentive video, (2)unexpected incentive video, (3)expected
incentive text, and an (4)unexpected incentives text group.
Half of the participants watched the video and the other half read the
The two expected incentive groups were told prior to watching or reading
the History Uncovered Documentary that they would receive candy for every
Those in the two unexpected incentive groups were not told until after
they read/watch the clip that they would receive candy for each correct
Once this task was completed, the subjects were given a questionnaire to
All the participants were debriefed after they completed the experiment
and they were given candy regardless of their score on the questionnaire.
Following the completion of the experiment, the researchers tallied the
number of correct answers on the questionnaires of the 4 different groups
and analyzed the data.
An independent groups ANOVA was run to determine if there was a significant
difference in participant test scores for learning styles and incentives.
There was no main effect for learning style. Participants in the text group
(M= 11.03) did not score significantly different than participants
in the video group (M= 11.37), F (1,59)= .36, Mse=
4.70, p>. 05. There was also no main effect for incentives. Participants
in the expected incentive group (M= 11.53) did not obtain a significantly
different score than participants in the unexpected incentive group (M=10.87),
F(1,59)= 1.42, Mse= 4.70, p>.05.
There was a significant interaction detected between learning styles
and incentives F(1,59)= 5.12, Mse= 4.70, p<.05.
A post hoc test was run to determine where the significant differences
existed. This test revealed that the unexpected incentive text group scored
significantly lower than the expected incentive text group and the unexpected
incentive video group. No other significant effects were found.
The hypothesis being tested study was partially supported.
There were no significant main effects.
A significant interaction was found. The unexpected incentive text group
scored significantly lower then the expected incentive text group and the
unexpected incentive video group.
A possible explanation for the significant interaction is that the participants
who expected to be rewarded for reading the text were more motivated to
study the text carefully and read it multiple times. Participants who were
unaware of the reward for reading the text did not perform as well on the
However, there was not a main effect for the incentive in the video groups.
Participants in the video groups could not watch the video more than once,
and therefore, the effect of the incentive was minimized.
The questionnaire only had fifteen questions, which could have had a ceiling
effect on the results.
Previous research done by Swaffar & Vlatten (1997), and De Hann et
al (2000) showed that many people do learn more information better and
perform more efficiently when taught through videos instead of traditional
methods of textual learning.
Other previous research has indicated that incentives are effective (Flora
& Flora, 1999).
Overall, with this experiment we hope to promote the use of incentives
and encourage administrators to use different teaching methods.
This is just one step in achieving a larger goal of motivating people to
learn. Hopefully in the future more research will be done to further the
improvement of education through examining different methods of teaching
and the use of incentives.