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Rewards systems: Running a shop

Students work exceptionally hard, they hand in their homework on time, they’re well-mannered, timely to class, and in turn (in most cases) receive recognition whether that’s through acknowledgement by a statement of praise or through a system of rewarding like points or stars added to a chart. But what happens to these points and stars once they start to accumulate?

Staff profile picture Kelsey de Beer June 25th  - 4 minute read

Rewarding students

Many schools use a specific system for rewarding such as; prize draws, raffles, walls of fame, trophies, certificates or a digital shop. Because we’ve been helping schools to set up and run their online shops for almost a decade now, we thought we’d share some insights with you. We’ve put together a couple of ideas of best practices to use to run an online digital shop so that not only are students encouraged to earn more points, but staff have an easy, seamless way to ensure their students remain motivated without adding to their workload.

Variety

Everyone has their own favourite brand of ice cream, a favourite clothing brand and even their own favourite toothpaste! Your school shop needs to cater for everyone, so variety is key to ensure your shop remains exciting for students.

We suggest focusing on three elements when choosing what to put in your digital shop:

  1. Experiences

    These are great because most of the time they’re absolutely free for the school and are on the top end of the excitement scale for students. Experience-based items can include; free homework passes, jump to the front of the lunch queue vouchers, extra break time, and so much more. The idea here is for students to have the opportunity to celebrate their hard work in a way that is both fun for them, cost-effective and hassle-free for teachers.

  2. Items

    These are things that the school can spend money on or get sponsored/donated items. Items are supplied by the school so this kind of reward might not always be an option, but schools can still be creative here. Snacks, stationery, sports items – these are all great ideas for things to stock in the shop. How rewarding would it be if students were able to purchase a ball to play with during lunch time with their points that they earned from hard work?

  3. Privileges

    Almost like a super-prize, privileges should be slightly more 'expensive' but a bit more rewarding. These combine a range of items and experiences to create the ultimate reward. Something like; three free homework passes, 2 lunch queue passes and an ice-cream to be redeemed at any time by the students. Privileges are great because even though it may take longer to achieve the points necessary to purchase them, once students do, they really get to enjoy their rewards for a little longer.

Cost

Once you’ve got a list of ideas of things to put in the shop, you’ll want to start pricing your items. Now this could be based on whichever rewards system you have chosen so, for example, 5 stars for a pencil or 50 points for a free homework pass.

The most important thing to remember when pricing items in your shop is to ensure that the pricing is fair in relation to the average points that students get. You don’t want shop items to be extremely low in price that they’re too easy to obtain and thus lose their value. However, you also don’t want items to be too ‘expensive’ that they become unobtainable as this may result in students feeling even less motivated and dismissing the idea altogether.

Pretend money

Get students involved

Give students the opportunity to help with the organisation and running of the shop. This in itself can be a great reward for many students.

Assign various roles to certain students to manage parts of your rewards system. If you use epraise, the student helpers area is an easy way to do this. But even if you use a different rewards platform or in-house system, encourage students to get involved! Understandably, this can often sound like more work than it’s worth but here are a couple of points that may help:

  1. Choose students who will not only be responsible but who have also shown enthusiasm to take on the role. If students enjoy doing something then the chances are, they will put a lot more effort into it and be a lot more committed to the task at hand.
  2. Separate students into different roles according to their strengths. A student may not be top of the class in maths but that doesn’t mean they can’t be involved; it just means that they may want to handle incoming suggestions rather than pricing or calculating costs of items.

Suggestions

Epraise has a suggestions area in the shop which allows students to suggest possible items to stock in the school’s digital shop. Subject to approval, students can vote on the suggestions that they'd most like to see, before ideas get selected and added to the shop. This is great because it means students get the opportunity to work towards things they really want.

Pretend money

Wish list

On epraise there is an area where students have the option to add an item to their wish list (we all know how the Amazon wish list works - this is kind of the same thing). So, this is a great way for students to keep tabs on items that they want but are either not yet in stock or they don’t have enough points to purchase yet. However, this can also provide a great way to discuss behaviour and motivation with your students. If you’re able to, spend time with them identifying why they haven’t quite met their total amount for an item and also to come up with ideas and goals to help them reach their desired points total. The rewards then can be seen as attainable targets and, once obtained, will be all the more satisfying as a result of sustained effort.

Lastly, and this is really important, keep it simple; you want your digital rewards to be a fun experience not only for students purchasing their rewards but also for teachers. You all do so much for students already and your workload is immense, so the last thing you need is a complicated system that adds more work. If, for example, you stock physical items to be collected, make it clear who runs the shop and when it is open – the shop notice area on epraise is a great place to do this. Also, talk to your students – who better to know what motivates them than the students themselves.

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