Types of Extrinsic Rewards

Here are some examples of rewards sometimes used in training programs. Stickers

Use stickers in various shapes (e.g., stars, animals, or smile faces) placed on name tents to reward behavior or activity.


The same erasers discussed in Chapter 6 can be used as incentives. These inexpensive, creative prizes come in many shapes that often relate directly to various training topics (see Creative Presentation Resources in the Resources for Trainers in the appendices). Like stickers, erasers can be given to reward a variety of learner behaviors.


At the beginning of a session, I often describe how coupons or tickets that I will distribute throughout the session can result in a prize at the end of the program. I explain that participants receive a coupon or ticket for arriving on time, volunteering, responding first to a question (or raising their hand), or otherwise participating. The coupons can be the carnival type that come on rolls and are numbered (see Creative Presentation Resources in the Resources for Trainers in the appendices). They have duplicate tickets—one for the participant and one for you to retain for a drawing later. You can also create your own with graphic images and the program title on them printed on bright colored paper. You can make eight to ten of these on a sheet of paper, then cut them apart for distribution. At the end of you session, have participants write their names on the back of the coupons they have received, and then toss them all into a box for a prize drawing. You may want to have candy bars or small incentives for all the participants who do not win the major reward so that you do not have any losers in the g"oup.


Many toys and props can be adapted to relate to program themes. For example, I use Magic 8-Ball key chains as incentives for workshops on creativity, train-the-trainer, problem-solving, and decision-making. These creative little balls also come in larger hand-size versions. The way I adapt them to training is to have a learner ask a closed-ended question to which he or she wants to know an answer (e.g., "Will I get that raise next week?"). On the back side of the ball is a little viewing area. Inside is a floating cube with 12 possible responses (e.g., "Yes," "Can't tell," and "Try later"). By turning the ball upside down, an answer appears to the question. This is a lighthearted way to add some fun to your programs and learners can have a key chain for their own use later. Each time they see the reward in the future, they are likely to think of the program and thus learning potentially will be reinforced.

Like so many other things addressed in this book, your ability to apply creative learning strategies rests with your desire and effort to think outside the box. As I have mentioned in other parts of the book, visit local toy or educational stores and purchase various items. Really look at the items and ask yourself, "To what topic does this relate?" or "How could I use this as a training aid or incentive?"

Imprinted Items

Most phone directories contain the names of various companies that create custom imprinted or promotional items. You can develop a slogan or theme for your programs, and then have it imprinted on a variety of products. Better yet, have learners come up with several suggested themes during programs and select the best. Reward the person whose idea was adopted later. Once you have a slogan, have one or more of the following items produced for use in future training programs:

Mugs T-shirts Mouse pads Key chains Pencils or pens Buttons or badges Note pad cubes Drink coasters

Glass/Bottle cozies (insulated covers)

Paper weights



Screen Savers

There are a variety of inexpensive software programs that allow you to create your own screensavers. Find copyright-free color landscape or animal photos, or use other creative graphics along with your program theme, topic, tips for success, quote, or organizational logo. Save copies of the custom screen saver(s) you produce onto CD-ROM disks and give them as prizes or for attendance at a session. You can also use them as giveaways to promote the program and encourage registration at trade shows, organizational expositions, or gatherings. Make sure that the disks are virus-free.

Candy or Food

Do not overlook giving inexpensive prizes such as candy bars or packages of snack foods (e.g., chips or cookies). Many people enjoy these and often share them with peers when they receive them. You are also addressing the motivational needs of learners discussed earlier in the book.

Extrinsic Rewards

MINDMAP 2. Extrinsic Rewards

Extended Breaks

All rewards need not cost money. Consider giving extended breaks or lunch periods as a reward for individual or group accomplishment. You can even turn the determination of time length into a game of chance using spinners, dice, cards, or other creative means (see Resources for Trainers in the appendices).

Books for Behavior

Books are excellent incentives because they can be chosen for their content to reinforce and supplement classroom information later. If you have major bookstore chains in your area (e.g., Borders, Barnes & Noble, or Books-a-Million), check their discounted bookshelves located in the front of their stores. If these chains do not have a store nearby, check their websites (see Resources for Trainers in the appendices). You can get significantly reduced prices on books from these companies. College or university bookstores and book websites (e.g., Amazon.com) are other great places to find books with marked down prices. They often have discontinued, overstocked, or out of print copies of books for as low as $1.00. These make valuable rewards for your learners.

Table 10-1. Tips for Motivating Learners

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