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Promoting motivational needs to improve academic engagement in the primary classroom: using homework completion rates to measure the efficacy of classroom behaviour management strategies

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

Publication date2018
Number of pages244
Awarding Institution
  • Lancaster University
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Engaging primary aged children in academic tasks beyond the school gates is an age-old problem for many teachers and ubiquitous across many school settings. While the process can be felt as intrusive in the home environment (Edwards and Warin 1999) the benefits have been associated with more than subject specific academic achievement. Homework can develop fundamental learning behaviours (Bempechat 2004) which include the encouragement of independent learning, intrinsic engagement and life-long learning skills which can improve academic achievement in secondary school and beyond. However, around a third of children were found to regularly not complete homework tasks at primary school (Cooper et al 1998) which may disadvantage these pupils and harm their life choices when they are older.
Homework is an integral part of the UK primary curriculum but its completion involves a complex list of motivational factors which can be influenced by rewards and punishments in the classroom. This project explored the efficacy of some common rewards systems, using homework completion rates as the measuring instrument. The project focuses on the impact of ClassDojo, a popular internet-based program, as a classroom behaviour management tool that incorporates homework completion as an important requirement of the pupils’ practice. The system’s efficacy is compared in two ways. The study was done over two school terms and involved twin classes (a Comparison and a focus class). In term one both classes were treated the same, following the school policy of using a Zone Board for behaviour management and house points to reward classwork and homework completion. In term two the Focus class used ClassDojo to reward all of these while the Comparison class continued as in term one.
The findings suggest that when a classroom behaviour management system incorporates homework, school work and classroom behaviour within the same reward structure, while consistently supporting the motivational factors important for intrinsic engagement and pupil self-worth, homework turn-in rates can be improved within a few weeks. ClassDojo in itself was not found to be the motivationally pertinent factor but the way it was used to address and support all pupil learning and behaviour that influenced the children’s homework completion rates and classroom academic engagement. Alternative behaviour management systems could be equally effective if they address the needs identified in the motivational model and support intrinsic motivational engagement.