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Reinforcement of Rewards as Motivation for Students in Art Learning: A Case Study at a Local University

Reinforcement of Rewards as Motivation for Students
in Art Learning: A Case Study at a Local University
Junita Shariza Mohd Nasir
Faculty of Creative Multimedia, Multimedia University
*Corresponding author, Email:
This study aims to look into the necessity of rewarding students, and how effective the usage of rewards reinforcement
in motivating students towards learning art subject in universities. Positive reinforcement is essential in education as it
strengthens their behaviour by presenting a desired stimulus (rewards). Educators normally select materials, conduct
activities, relay information, impart knowledge, provide guidance, evaluate students, motivate and encourage learners.
The intended research is designed specifically to see whether the act of giving rewards as a mean of recognition of good
work and progress will increase learners level of motivation towards learning art. Arts in education is generally
perceived as the less important subject in universities. This study is hoped to uplift the art education in universities and
curriculum design such as Outcome Based Education (OBE) expert as to the importance of Art education, hence
upgrades the quality, performance and motivation of students towards Art education. The researcher believes that
universities in Malaysia need a change in their teaching methods. Giving rewards is considered as one of the best
instruments in motivating Art learning amongst students. The research was conducted to 242 students from Humanities
subject. The target population of this study is mostly from the Foundation year students from the Faculty of Creative
Multimedia. The respondents were selected using a ‘cluster sampling method’. The researcher employed the
questionnaire method as a means to gather information directly from the 242 respondents. From this research, the
researcher found that the act of giving rewards in recognition to students excellent performance and progress is effective
in teaching arts. Rewards usually improve and motivate students at the university level. This study also found that both
male and female students were attracted to rewards. In addition to that, the attraction to the rewards has shown no
difference between students of low level and high-level performance in Arts. Giving praises is also another way to
motivate students. Most respondents agreed that giving rewards is the best way to improve and motivate art learning.
The finding of this research proves that giving rewards helps in motivating students to learn arts. Regardless of any type
of reward given, either in the form of praises, additional marks, special merits or certificates of appreciation, these
rewards act as an extra encouragement to motivate students in art learning. Implementation needs to be made in the
method of teaching at university level. Thus, it is proven that the finding of this research may be deemed as a helpful
guideline to university educators in their process of imparting new art skills to students.
Keywords: Rewards, Motivation, Learning, Art.
Learning and education is very useful for human capital
development as well as for economic development. It can
foster creativity as well as interaction in self-injecting
innovation. It is a priority for the country to provide high-
skilled youths in this challenging era. Armed with
creativity and complimented with innovation, they can
compete more positively in helping the expansion of the
economy. With such status, Malaysia would be able to
establish links with other advanced nations all over the
world. The more complex the innovation, the greater the
adaptation required in the system. Therefore, Malaysians
need to acquire excellent knowledge, skills and ability in
creating or expressing beauty in its visual entity such as
art and design and multimedia technology, an educator is
to ensure that the education system will continue to move
in-line with the country's mission and vision. Therefore,
the country will be more advanced, more successful from
the global perspective and increasingly competitive.
Advances in Social Science, Education and Humanities Research, volume 502
Proceedings of the International Conference of Innovation in Media and Visual Design (IMDES 2020)
Copyright © 2020 The Authors. Published by Atlantis Press SARL.
This is an open access article distributed under the CC BY-NC 4.0 license - 237
With this challenging phase of education system, we
cannot neglect other issues of achievement in education.
The lack of motivation and rewards will explore the
reasons of disinterest that the students display towards
learning. Therefore, it is important for lecturers to focus
on reward recognition to help the continuity of effective
Student who perform lesser or face learning
disabilities will be demotivated to put extra effort due to
their past and repetitive failures. Students will often be
working better and be wiser in doing tests other than
taking more risks in learning art. This was the general
consensus and a common complaint heard pertaining to
the students. Appreciation and motivation have always
been the point of convergence between lecturers and
students throughout the years because it is the backbone
of the learning process without realising it was the best
way. Rewards are seen as the epitome in uplifting
positive emotion and dedication for students to strive.
Hence, it will be the greatest motivational factor for
students to keep trying.
Historically, the Malay Peninsula or Malaya was
colonised by three western powers since 1511. The first
western power to colonise the Malay Peninsula was the
Portuguese, who occupied the country from 1511 to
1641. Then, came the Dutch who stayed from 1641 to
1815. The third European power to colonise the Malay
Peninsula was the British. This was from 1815 to 1957.
Not much was known about the education system in the
Malay Peninsula during the Portuguese and the Dutch
colonisation periods. However, the Malay Peninsula had
undergone many changes in its education system, which
they inherited from the British administration. The
British Colonial Government introduced art as a formal
subject in the education system in Malaya as early as
1816. The contents of the syllabus focused more on the
usefulness of practical arts such as carpentry, metalwork,
tailoring, bookbinding and drawing [1]. When the
country obtained its independence from the British
Colonial Government in 1957, the same contents for Art
Education were retained and taught in Malaysian schools.
Although there were some minor adjustments in the
school art syllabus, Art Education remained as a practical
subject. The syllabus stressed on picture-making and
graphic design [2].
Art is a skill or an ability that can be learned or acquired
through constant practice as compared to other learning
subjects. Indeed, art is remarkably recognised as an
intermediary in establishing and maintaining relationship
between peoples around the world. Thus, art can be used
as a medium of communication that links people in all
aspects, be it in trade and commerce, technology,
entertainment, health, administration and education. Arts
education is an important subject across schools and
universities to form the personality of children and adults.
To ensure that the objectives of teaching art, design and
multimedia subjects are achieved and implemented, the
citizens of this country need the collaboration from all
levels of the Malaysian society, from the management
right to the artists and designers who are creative,
talented and progressive to play their part in developing
an industrial country. Education policies typically focus
on the importance of gaining skills that are useful in
the workforce, and neglect the need to develop the
ability to form meaningful relationships and peaceful,
cohesive societies. Given the advantages of bringing the arts
into educational systems, reform is required [3].
Interests and goals have been identified as two
important motivational variables that impact individuals'
academic performances, yet little is known about how
best to utilize these variables to enhance children’s
learning [4]. This study aims to look into the necessity of
rewarding students, and how effective the usage of
rewards in motivating students towards learning the art
subject in universities. This research uses questionnaires
to gather information from selected samples. The
questionnaires were designed as an instrument to collect
data for this study. This is a survey research where
questionnaires were used for the purpose. The
questionnaires will increase the accuracy of statistic and
at the same time will decrease sampling errors.
Interviews and observations are not suitable for this type
of research because they require more time and normally
used for in-depth study of certain topics [5]. Most
researchers do not require respondents to write their
names and addresses but this research requires them as a
relevant piece of information which are essential to
enable the identification of respondentsperformance in
art class. With such information, it will then be possible
for the researcher to obtain respondents latest recorded
results. However, their names will not be revealed to
avoid any undesirable effect on the respondents’ self-
The questionnaires are divided into two parts: Part 1 and
Part 2. Part 1 consists of ten items, all of which are related
to the respondents’ personal data. Part 2 is divided into
three sections, A, B and C whereby each part is related to
each of the three hypotheses. Part 2(A) is related to
hypothesis one; Part 2(B) is related to hypothesis two;
and Part 2(C) is related to hypothesis three.
Hypothesis one: reinforcement in the form of
material rewards is not necessarily a useful tool for
effective learning in art.
Advances in Social Science, Education and Humanities Research, volume 502
Hypothesis two: other forms of reinforcement
such as praising could be a useful tool towards effective
learning in art.
Hypothesis three: learning art is no different
from learning other subjects in the sense that
reinforcement is not necessary.
Each section of Part 2 contains twelve statements. At the
end of each statement, there are three parentheses for the
respondents to respond. The first parenthesis is under the
word ‘Agree’, the second parenthesis is under the word
‘Neutral’, and the third parenthesis is under the word
‘Disagree’. Respondents were required to indicate with
an (X) in any one of the parenthesis ‘Agree’, ‘Neutral’ or
‘Disagree’ according to their perception towards the
statements given. There is a various research methods
used by researcher to obtain information for the research
in question. It is very important that the researcher
chooses the right research method that is suitable for the
on-going type of research. This is because the capability
of some research methods in data gathering may not be
useful for the type of research being done. The researcher
took almost 4 days to analyse the data given by the 242
respondents. The questionnaire given to respondents to
obtain data is the only collective source of information
and regarded as the primary data for the research.
In its broadest sense, this research is an attempt to
contribute to a fuller understanding of the importance of
learning art and if the rewards can act as a form of
reinforcement. Many students are not very well inclined
to learn art for the simple reason that they do not see the
importance of the subject as compared to other subject in
university curriculum. Defiantly, art has been considered
as secondary in the academic environment in comparison
to other subjects such as law, medicine, business or
accounting, which carry a better perception of a more
secured future profession than taking art courses. In an
attempt to find out students’ attitude towards rewards as
a motivational platform, the results from this study are as
3.1. That Reinforcement in the form of material
rewards is not necessarily a useful tool for
effective learning in art.
A large majority of respondents in the university
believe that rewards should be given to them who have
obtained high achievements in art subject. Most
respondents agree that the grade given to students’ work
in art is a good reward and should be exercised by the
subject’s educators/lecturers at the university level to
improve the learning of the subject. A majority of the
respondents also put their thumbs up to the fact that
rewards given to students could motivate them to learn
more. Furthermore, most respondents also agree that
students who have excellent performance in art class
should be rewarded. The nature and the form of possible
rewards are the most important. These rewards could be
cheap in monetary value or small in size, but the gesture
is very significant to the receivers. A majority of the
respondents also acknowledge that praise is also a form
of reward in learning art. Sweet words of praises from the
educators/lecturers acknowledging good artwork is more
than enough to motivate students to improve their
performance in class. In addition to that, many
respondents agree that extra marks are also considered as
a form of rewards that should be given to students.
Extra marks act as a bonus to students who do well in
art. The bonus given varies between highly motivated and
poorly motivated students as far as art education is
concerned. Surprisingly, art students in Humanities class
in general do not expect to be rewarded when they do not
perform well in art. Most respondents do not agree with
the notion that students always expect rewards after
doing well in class. They never have such expectation.
However, students will very much appreciate if they are
rewarded after producing good and excellent work.
Rewards need not always be in material form. Rewards
could be in the form of certificates. Educators/lecturers
sending short notes of appreciation to parents
acknowledging the good work of their children could also
be perceived as rewards. Respondent then disagree with
the statement that they do not feel satisfied upon
receiving rewards as recognition for their good work in
art. As a matter of fact, students usually feel very happy
and proud when they are given a reward as a recognition
of their good work in art class. Factors like parents,
school, peers, and social background and achievement
scores could also be explored in the research to see how
these factors impact on student motivation and
engagement [6].
Thus, rewards in general is proven to be a necessity
as perceived by the university students. They have a firm
belief that rewards can motivate them to do well in art
and should be incorporated on a frequent basis. Hence,
supervision is needed to comprehend the importance of
the application of rewards in universities and this could
be done by a collaborative measure between relevant
faculties in a university. Neglecting the importance of
awarding rewards to students in universities would mean
neglecting the importance of art in its faculty and
universities in general.
Advances in Social Science, Education and Humanities Research, volume 502
3.2. That other forms of reinforcement such as
praising could be a useful tool towards effective
learning in art.
Behavior management is another important part of
the classroom, and motivation plays a large part in how
children act [7]. This actually can be one of the form of
the tool that can be implements in learning domain. Most
respondents said that they feel happy when their
educator/lecturer praises their good work in art. Besides
that, students also believe that they feel proud when their
good work in art is shown to the rest of the class. Students
feel proud because their classmates would look at their
work with envy. A majority of the 242 respondents
believe that they are determined to further improve their
artwork after being praised by their lecturer.
Additionally, students feel proud because not all students
are always entitled to receive the words of praise from
their lecturer. Therefore, most respondents believe that
students expect to get positive comments from their
lecturer after having produced good artwork. In addition
to that, positive comments from fellow classmates are
perceived as a form of motivation to further improve the
respondents’ artwork. Subsequently, most respondents
also agree that praises from parents would increase their
interest in art.
“Participating in art competitions takes courage and is an
act of faith and belief in one’s own talent and strengths”
[8]. Most respondents also feel that any invitation to
participate in art competitions, exhibitions and
workshops can increase their interest in art as well.
Hence, this clearly proves that other forms of
reinforcement such as word of praise can be an important
motivational tool for effective learning in art education.
The result of this survey shows that praises given to
students can make them happy, proud and special, realize
and improve their talent, determined and honored, all of
which are vital to further improve the general perception
towards learning art.
3.3. That learning art is no different from
learning other subjects in the sense that
reinforcement is not necessary
On the whole, respondents agree that learning art is no
different from learning other subjects and that the
reinforcement is inessential and unnecessary. Students
believe that duress should not be enforced in art learning.
Responses from these respondents also show that duress
is not essential in art learning and that the students oppose
duress to be incorporated in studying art. This case study
has also shown that the majority of respondents agree
with the statement that interest in learning art should be
of natural consequence and without the presence of
duress. Instead, the respondents agree that reinforcement
is necessary to nurture interest in art learning. It is also
noted that the majority of the respondents believe they
should be informed in advance that there would be
rewards for excellent work in art.
Furthermore, these respondents also consider that
positive reinforcements can motivate students in doing
excellent work in class. In addition to that, students also
agree on the notion that the promise of rewards makes
them prepared for producing better artwork. Similarly,
the promise of rewards is also perceived by students to
have positive effect towards learning art and they believe
that this world prepares them to come up with better
artwork. Hence, students agree with the statement that
giving rewards for their good art work is a part of the
learning process. The perception from these respondents
also indicates, most respondents found that material
rewards can really help lecturers to encourage their
students to do well in class. However, material reward is
not necessarily effective in encouraging students to do
well in learning art as perceived by students. Instead,
students believe that lecturers giving extra bonus marks
to them can really motivate them to perform better.
This research is relevant to the question of whether
rewards in general could become a form of reinforcement
to motivate students in art learning. The prime intention
is to investigate the necessity of using rewards as a
motivational tool in determining students’ behaviour.
The analysed results obtained after the implementation of
the research methods have significantly proven the
powerful influence of rewards in shaping the needed
motivation in art learning. Thus, the finding of this
research could become a helpful guide to educators in
their process of imparting new knowledge to students.
The whole research arrives at the following conclusion.
Firstly, material reward is generally perceived as a
form of reinforcement to motivate students in art
learning. Students would make extra effort to take art,
design, and multimedia courses and to excel in these
fields if they visualise some forms of rewards being
offered in relation to their achievement in that course or
subject. However, rewards should not always be in a
tangible form. Praise is intangible but the words of praise
given to students who excel, will exhibit some elements
of excellence in their work, which is also perceived as a
Learning is fun and exciting, at least when the
curriculum is well matched to students’ interests and
abilities and the teacher emphasizes hands-on activities
[9]. Students are happy too when they improve their
work, task and assignments given after getting some
Advances in Social Science, Education and Humanities Research, volume 502
words of praise from lecturers or prominent people such
as Deans, Professors and higher official ranks in their
university. These students would most likely double their
efforts in producing excellent artwork throughout their
years of candidatures.
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[2] Curriculum Development Centre, (1967).
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[3] Engelhardt R. A (2005). Educating for Creativity:
Bringing the Arts and Culture into Asian Education
UNESCO, Bangkok.
[4] Harackiewicz, J. M., & Hidi, S. (2000). Motivating
the academically unmotivated: A critical issue for
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70, 151-179.
[5] Creswell, J.W, Poth C.N, (2018). Qualitative
Inquiry & Research Design Choosing Among Five
Approaches (4th ed.). California, USA: Sage
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Motivation Influences Student Engagement: A
Qualitative Case Study. Journal of Education and
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[7] Baranek, L.K, "The Effect of Rewards and
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[8] Angela DiBello (2017). Agora Gallery, Advised
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Advances in Social Science, Education and Humanities Research, volume 502
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Full-text available
The research analyses the impact of a teacher’s motivation strategies on the engagement of her students’ based on their preferred motivation type. We propose an innovative framework that combines motivation strategies used by teachers aligned to a continuum of student engagement (Schlechty, 2011). Using student and teacher voice to analyze perceptions about their own motivation type and the intersection/influence of these factors, we report how these may impact on the development and support of authentic student engagement. A qualitative research framework is used to collect data from one class of year five and six students and their teacher. The teacher used intrinsic motivation strategies to engage her students who exhibited a preference for intrinsic or integrated regulated motivation (Ryan & Deci, 2000) and were authentically engaged in response. Students who preferred extrinsic motivation also showed ritual and retreatist forms of engagement, while students demonstrating both intrinsic and extrinsic motivation varied from authentic, ritual, retreatist and rebellious engagement (Schlechty, 2011). The findings reinforce the understanding that if teachers meet students’ needs for competence, relatedness and autonomy then students will become more self determined and thereby authentically engaged in their learning.
Written specifically for teachers, this book offers a wealth of research-based principles for motivating students to learn. Its focus on motivational principles rather than motivation theorists or theories leads naturally into discussion of specific classroom strategies. Throughout the book these principles and strategies are tied to the realities of contemporary schools (e.g., curriculum goals) and classrooms (e.g., student differences, classroom dynamics). The author employs an eclectic approach to motivation that shows how to effectively integrate the use of extrinsic and intrinsic strategies. Guidelines are provided for adapting motivational principles to group and individual differences and for doing 'repair work' with students who have become discouraged or disaffected learners. © 1997 Th e McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. © 2004 Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc.
Interests and goals have been identified as two important motivational variables that impact individuals' academic performances, yet little is known about how best to utilize these variables to enhance childrens' learning. We first review recent developments in the two areas and then examine the connection between interests and goals. We argue that the polarization of situational and individual interest, extrinsic and intrinsic motivation, and performance and mastery goals must be reconsidered. In addition, although we acknowledge the positive effects of individual interest, intrinsic motivation, and the adoption of mastery goals, we urge educators and researchers to recognize the potential additional benefits of externally triggered situational interest, extrinsic motivation, and performance goals. Only by dealing with the multidimensional nature of motivational forces will we be able to help our academically unmotivated children.
Educating for Creativity: Bringing the Arts and Culture into Asian Education UNESCO
  • R Engelhardt
Engelhardt R. A (2005). Educating for Creativity: Bringing the Arts and Culture into Asian Education UNESCO, Bangkok.
The Effect of Rewards and Motivation on Student Achievement
  • L Baranek
Baranek, L.K, "The Effect of Rewards and Motivation on Student Achievement" (1996).