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The purpose of this research was to appraise of the role of student motivation and positive reinforcement in improving Academic Performance of Students in the 21st Century (A Case Study of Some Selected Secondary Schools in Bwari Area Council of the Federal Capital Territory. The lack of intrinsic student motivation was a factor that negatively impacted the number of homework assignments submitted by mildly disabled students. Teachers in this study have also had difficulty with extrinsically motivating students to submit homework assignments. This research project explored the use of positive reinforcers on students who participate in Learning Strategies classes. This research project was intended to enrich the body of research as it relates to student intrinsic and extrinsic motivation.



1.1 Statement of the Problem

The purpose of this research is to explore behavior modification by using rewards to encourage positive, observable behavior changes in students. Teachers have an opportunity to positively impact their students’ behavior, in addition to their education. I want to see if the idea of behavior modification was an effective method for teaching and encouraging students’ age appropriate behaviors and social skills. I researched the use of rewards and positive reinforcement with regards to behavior modification by creating a classroom behavior management plan called “Marbles for Manners”.

It was my intention that this reward system would positively reinforce students who used appropriate manners while interacting with others. For the purpose of this study, manners that could be objectively measured through verbal phrases such as “please”, “thank you”, “excuse me”, and “I’m sorry” were assessed.

1.2 Background of the problem

One aspect of teaching is educators’ abilities to effectively manage their students’ behaviors. Many teacher education programs expose teachers to numerous strategies for managing students’ behaviors because the most challenging aspect of teaching continues to be classroom management and discipline (Yost & Mosca, 2002). According to Witzel and Mercer (2003), “The area of behavior interventions in classrooms receives more attention than many other aspects of schooling” (p. 89). This is not surprising as teachers are expected to deal with discipline problems that were once a cause for suspension or expulsion from school since more and more students are being included in public school settings.

Strong classroom management skills aid in teachers’ abilities to successfully teach students with various needs; however, teachers struggle with managing their students’ behaviors. Witzel and Mercer (2003) point out that classroom management is one of the most common problems facing teachers because disruptive students take up valuable learning time.

1.2     Statement of problem

Students with disruptive, defiant, and disrespectful behaviors often make it difficult for teachers to teach and students to learn. Educators who have students with problematic behaviors in their classrooms become extremely frustrated. These individuals often come to feel that they are ineffective at working with students which is one cause of teacher attrition (Witzel & Merv1ercer, 2003).

Another area teachers struggle with is whether or not students should be rewarded for behaviors that are expected of them. Some educators believe that it is not their responsibility to provide incentives for students; they feel that this is the job of parents. However, research in the area of behavioral skills training claims that feedback in the form of positive reinforcement is essential to teaching individuals appropriate behaviors and expectations (Miltenberger, 2008). Witzel and Mercer (2003) note that, “The most controversial issues in behavior management have been the use of rewards to motivate and teach students to follow classroom rules and routines and to complete academic assignments” (p. 88). The appropriate use of positive reinforcement and behavior modification are important for success in the classroom, as frequent reprimands, low expectations, and infrequent praise often result in students who exhibit challenging behaviors (Morgan, 2006). Educators can use strong classroom management skills to end, or at the very least avoid, an increase in problematic behaviors.

  1.      Purpose of the Study

The purpose of this study is to examine the role of student motivation and positive reinforcement in improving the academic performance of students in some selected schools in Bwari Area Council in classroom situation. The effects were determined by comparing pre-intervention data against post-intervention data as they related to the number of missed homework assignments. This research project was also intended to enrich the body of research as it relates to student intrinsic and extrinsic motivation.

  1.      Scope and Delimitation of The Study

This research seeks to underscore the role student motivation and positive reinforcement play in the academic performance of student in Bwari Area Council of the Federal Capital, Abuja.

  1.      Research Question and Hypothesis

This study tends to answer the question: Does student motivation plays any significant role in improving the academic performance of students?

How does positive reinforcement impact on the academic performance of student of some selected secondary schools in Bwari Area Council of Abuja.

1.6     Significance of the Study

Locke, Shaw, Saari, & Latham (1999) are of view that different lines of investigation provide substantial converging evidence that explicit challenging goals enhance and sustain motivation. It is important to motivate students for their optimum growth. In Nigeria, mostly students are not awarded for their accomplishments. Due to this lack of appreciation, motivation level of students tends to become low and hence they lose the willingness to excel in future. It is very important to study the effect that motivation has on student behavior. To compete globally and have a competitive edge over others, Nigerian students must have high morale and willingness to compete. Hence the need to consider the impact of student motivation and the use of positive reinforcement in improving the academic performance of students.

1.7     Basic Assumptions of the study

Through the use of positive reinforcement, rewards and student motivation, I believe that students would be more motivated in learning which will invariably impact on their academic performance. It was my intention through this study to show that the use of positive reinforcement greatly play a major role in their overall academic performance.

1.8     Definitions of Terms

Behavior – What a person says or does.

Behavior modification– The consistent application of positive or negative consequences to reinforce the occurrence of a desirable behavior and/or to reduce the occurrence of an undesirable behavior.

Classroom management– A set of skills needed by a teacher to plan, implement, and maintain a learning environment in which students learn decision-making skills needed to be responsible for their own learning and conduct.

Manners – Polite ways of behaving or acting through the use of verbal phrases such as “please”, “thank you”, “excuse me”, and “I’m sorry”.

Motivation– A driving force that encourages an action or behavior to occur.

Positive reinforcement– The presentation of a reward immediately following a desired behavior intended to make that behavior more likely to occur in the future.

Reward – Something that is given in return for doing something else.

This action research project explored the theory of behavior modification through the use of rewards to promote positive behavioral changes in students.  A classroom behavior management plan was created to observe the effectiveness of positive reinforcement on influencing students’ behaviors. Chapter two will provide a review of literature that contains the theoretical and practical findings with regards to the use of behavior modification.

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