So I am reading this book right now titled Opening Skinner's Box. I had learned about Skinner and his experiments a long time ago in my early studies but this book gets into more depth and I am reading it now under much different context and finding it very interesting.
One thing that I find particularly interesting is his writing on how rewards can shape behavior. It seems obvious, I get rewarded, I keep doing that thing that got me the reward. So in the business world, we incentivize people to do what we want them to do. The problem is that this doesn't work very well, especially with financial incentives and people aren't sure why.
Reading through the book, I got to a section in which Skinner found that when he rewarded his test rats on a regular basis, their motivation was lacking, but when he randomized the rewards, their motivation went crazy. I know we aren't rats and some of what Skinner wrote is very controversial, but I started thinking about this a lot. That seems crazy, I would prefer to get rewarded all the time as opposed to just randomly, wouldn't I?!
But then it hit me. The thing about rewards is that when they are given out regularly (like a raise or annual bonus), they are expected and are NO LONGER REWARDS. A reward is unexpected and fun and gives us the dopamine we need to keep us motivated to perform and get to the next level.
How do we apply this to designing learning experiences?