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Randomised controlled trial of incentives to improve attendance at adult literacy classes Greg Brooks*, Maxine Burton*, Pam Cole*, Jeremy Miles**, Carole.

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Presentation on theme: "Randomised controlled trial of incentives to improve attendance at adult literacy classes Greg Brooks*, Maxine Burton*, Pam Cole*, Jeremy Miles**, Carole."— Presentation transcript:

1 Randomised controlled trial of incentives to improve attendance at adult literacy classes Greg Brooks*, Maxine Burton*, Pam Cole*, Jeremy Miles**, Carole Torgerson*** and David Torgerson** *School of Education, University of Sheffield **York Trials Unit, Dept of Health Sciences, University of York ***Department of Educational Studies, University of York

2 Background Poor adult literacy widespread problem Regular attendance known to correlate with adult learners making better progress in reading. No evidence from randomised controlled trials on incentives to attend.

3 Methods Pragmatic cluster randomised controlled trial Built on top of existing University of Sheffield Effective practice in reading study

4 Funding for main study Funding for trial ESFUniversity of Sheffield  (separate fund) DfES   Learners SfLSU  IoE  NRDC  University of Sheffield

5 Ethical approval and informed consent obtained 29 adult literacy classes allocated by York Trials Unit to two groups using minimisation Classes mainly in East Midlands and North of England, with 3 outliers in South East Main outcome: number of sessions attended Secondary outcome: reading attainment (tests devised by NFER)

6 Both groups received £20 to attend pre- and post-tests sessions in January and June 2005 Intervention group also received £5 for each session attended between pre- and post-tests Payments to learners after end of study

7 Results One class did not meet inclusion criteria – excluded 14 classes in each group Tests marked by researcher at NFER Data analysed by statistician in York blind to status of groups

8 Effects of incentives on sessions attended and post-test scores VariableIntervention (n = 82) Control (n = 70) Mean (SD) number of sessions attended (p = 0.019) 5.28 (2.79) 6.69 (2.71) Mean (SD) post-test literacy scores (not significantly different from pre-test for either group) (8.68) (8.84)

9 Limitations Small study Small incentive Incentives in form of vouchers – cash better? Did not test policy of financial sanctions

10 Discussion Perverse result known variously as: ‘Over-Justification Hypothesis’ ‘Corruption Effect’ ‘The Hidden Cost of Reward’ ‘Cognitive Evaluation Theory’ ‘Crowding-Out Effect’

11 External interventions crowd out intrinsic motivation if they are perceived as controlling. In that case, both self- determination and self-esteem suffer, and the individuals react by reducing their intrinsic motivation in the activity controlled. (Frey and Jegen, 2001, p.594) - with rider ‘for interesting tasks’ added on p.598 Plausible explanation?


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