1. Introduction
    1. Overview of Extrinsic v. Intrinsic incentives
      1. Real world examples
        1. SPARK (Student Programme for Advancement in Research Knowledge)
          • NYC
          • Gave 4th & 7th grade cash incentives

          Capital Gains Project: DC

          • Gave cash incentives to middle school students in DC

          Paper Project: Chicago

          • Gave cash incentives to high school students (9th and 10th)
      2. Outline Title I Schools
        1. Two different types
          1. Targeted Assistance
          2. School wide assistance
            1. How do two types differ in how we should/can support these students?
            2. What makes title 1 Schools different?
            3. Why should these students receive different ethical considerations compared to other students?
    2. Exploration of ethical theories
      1. Normative Ethics
        1. Defining what it is
        2. Exploring subgroups within theory
      2. Deontological Theory (nonconsequentialist)
        1. Defining theory
        2. Examining key thinkers
          1. KANT
        3. Relation to extrinsic incentives
      3. Consequentialist Theories
        1. Utilitarianism
          1. Bentham and Mill
      4. Virtue Ethics
    3. Consult other ethical considerations
      1. Sandel’s Justice 
        1. Financial incentives have effect of corrupting
      2. Satz’ Why Some Things Should Not be for Sale
        1. Some goods for which markets should not be introduced
          1. Coercion
          2. Vulnerability
            1. underage are particularly vulnerable population

Additional Readings:

  1. Further research on the three real world examples of programs which have provided cash incentives
  2. “Paying students to learn: An ethical analysis of cash for grades programmes”
  3. Further research on virtue ethics


My methodology can vary depending on which direction I would like to take my research. Initially, I was more interested in a descriptive analysis which would look at the efficacy of incentives within the K-12 setting, specifically formal mentoring relationships. If I were to pursue this route, I could either pursue an experiential method of either introducing or removing incentives in exiting mentoring relationships through existing channels such as Higher Achievement. However, this approach could be potentially problematic and against IRB guidelines being that it is direct intervention in an educational setting. Another methodology I could use if I were to take this approach would be to conduct a survey with both students and mentors about their perceptions of incentives and their effects on students accomplishing certain tasks/goals.

This approach is appealing to me primarily because of my vein desire to arrive at conclusive results to potentially inform not only my mentoring relationships but others’ relationships as well. However, I believe the survey method would echo professor Flannigan’s argument that surveys and observations portray perceptions of reality rather than how your topic of research actually operates. Additionally, Brian Warnick, author of “Paying Students to Learn”, argues that even if incentives produce positive results on the academic achievement of children, results do not tell the entire story. I, similar to Warnick, plan on taking a normative approach and examine the question of should incentives be provided in the context of formal mentoring relationships.

The normative approach, unlike the descriptive approach, would not require me to collect data or run experiments. Instead, I could examine the question by consulting a host of contemporary and earlier moral and political philosophies echoed by Michael Sandel and Debra Satz. These two authors which I have previously studied argue that markets should not exist with certain goods based upon considerations of coercion and vulnerability. I could also extend this into an analysis from a Kantian standpoint and argue that there is something intrinsically valuable about education or reject this view altogether.

Faculty Suggested Reading Notes

I am currently enrolled in EDUC 345, Urban Education, taught by Professor Mark Richardson. Dr. Richardson has been an amazing professor and connection because of his extensive experience within the Richmond City Public School system. After his Tuesday class, I informed him of my interest in researching the efficacy and/or ethics of providing incentives to students to improve academic achievement in the context of Title 1 schools. Immediately, he suggested that I read “The Good Behavior Game” which was a trial conducted in Baltimore City Public School System during the mid 1980s.

To give a brief outline, the Good Behavior Game (GBG), was only implemented in first and second grade classrooms and conducted on a classroom basis. Individual teachers would place a board of rules in the classroom, separate students into various groups and groups who did not commit too many infractions within a given time constraint were initially rewarded immediate benefits(candy, stickers) and later awarded deferred benefits (more time for free time during class). The study followed these students in the cohort until they were 21 years old analyzing aggressive/disruptive behavior levels. The study found that students, most prominently males, involved in the GBG cohort experienced significantly lower levels of aggressive and disruptive behaviors compared to their peers leading up into sixth grade.

After reading this research paper, a few concerns emerged. First, I seriously question getting IRB approval to conduct any type of classroom intervention on this scale. I don’t believe the only direct interaction I could have with the students is through observation and/or survey. Furthermore, while the study was grounded in incentive structure, I would have liked to see if there were noticeable differences among types of incentives (immediate vs. deferred). The only qualitative data the study used to support their claims was teacher observation ratings using the Teacher Observation of Classroom Adaptation–Revised (TOCA–R)scale. The short length of the intervention in addition to the dearth of quantitative data or more comprehensive qualitative data (such as parent surveys, peer observations etc.) makes it very difficult for decipher the magnitude of central claims such as, “By the spring of sixth grade, males in GBG classrooms who had initially been rated above median levels for aggressive and disruptive behavior had significantly reduced these behaviors (Kellam et al., 1994).”

Moving forward, this study reaffirms the contention that incentives are effective, at least in the short run, on outcomes such as student behavior. However, I have encountered little evidence to suggest any strong correlation between incentives and student achievement in the long run. Due to the time constraint, limited access that I will likely encounter within the public school system, and Professor Flanigan making ethics sound so compelling, it may be more worthwhile to pursue an approach looking at the ethics of providing incentives to students in various contexts (immediate v. deferred, formal v. informal relationships, Title 1 v. non Title 1, elementary, middle or high school etc.).

Article Notes #2

The article I choose to read was titled “Perpetuation of Risk: Organizational Policies and Practices in Title 1 Schools”. This article was extremely helpful because it provided me with an abundance of background information and evidence surrounding Title 1 funding. Not only did this provide me with an example of a research study conducted in a Title 1 school similar, but it also contained a host of acronyms and terms which will likely be extremely useful in discussing educational policy such as NAEP, SES as well as breaking down different types of Title 1 funding and how they are used.

Their method consisted of a combination of surveys and interviews with various teachers and administrators in a Title 1 school in rural Florida. What surprised me most about their methodology was the small sample size they were able to use. In total they only surveyed 30 of the 45 faculty and staff. Of those, they were only able to formally interview 14 with 3 being administrators. In addition, they appeared to use a simple Likert scale to capture their results which I am already very familiar. Reading this article gave me a bit of excitement and confidence moving forward because it filled in some big gaps in my understanding of the policy structure surrounding Title 1 funding.


Below are my notes which I took on the article titled “School Principals’ Leadership Style and Teachers’ Subjective Well Being at School”. The article is focused on exploring the extent to which a principal’s leadership style moderates various teacher variables such as teacher burnout, job insecurity and others.

Copying notes on freehand allowed me to take a closer look at the reading and some of its pitfalls when applying this to my own research. One of the major shortcomings of this article is that it focuses specifically on Eastern European countries. Its limited scope presents a challenge to applying similar approaches to my study because nearly all of the countries in the study have more homogeneous demographics than the communities of which I hope to focus. Additionally, the article does not focus on student performance or outcomes which I hope to also examine. However, it did provide me with a useful framework to guide the structure of my paper, specifically regarding explanation of various leadership styles at the beginning and clearly demonstrating the instruments used to measure those leadership styles such as the MLQ.

Blog Post for 2/12

Over the past week, I have meet with a few individuals who have provided me with some insight and gave me more direction for my research. For my keywords I used “Principal Leadership Style” as well as “Educational Leadership”.


  1. Heidmets, M., & Liik, K. (2014). SCHOOL PRINCIPALS’ LEADERSHIP STYLE AND TEACHERS’ SUBJECTIVE WELL-BEING AT SCHOOL. Problems Of Education In The 21St Century6240-50.
  2. Nir, A. E., & Hameiri, L. (2014). School principals’ leadership style and school outcomes The mediating effect of powerbase utilization. Journal Of Educational Administration52(2), 210-227. doi:10.1108/JEA-01-2013-0007
  3. Shouppe, G., & Pate, J. L. (2010). Teachers’ Perceptions of School Climate, Principal Leadership Style and Teacher Behaviors on Student Academic Achievement. National Teacher Education Journal3(2), 87-98.
  4. Niesche, R. (2017). PERPETUATING INEQUALITY IN EDUCATION: VALUING PURPOSE OVER PROCESS IN EDUCATIONAL LEADERSHIP. Advances In Educational Administration26235-252. doi:10.1108/S1479-366020160000026013
  5. Oplatka, I. (2017). “IRRESPONSIBLE LEADERSHIP” AND UNETHICAL PRACTICES IN SCHOOLS: A CONCEPTUAL FRAMEWORK OF THE “DARK SIDE” OF EDUCATIONAL LEADERSHIP. Advances In Educational Administration261-18. doi:10.1108/S1479-366020160000026001

Mapping Topics

Research Process: 

  1. Could my research become too focused?
  2. How will I find relevant information/findings regarding my topic if it becomes too specific?
  3. How important is quantitative data for social science studies?
  4. Is a form of observation/data collection required for studies involving people/societies?
  5. Is there a particular time frame for research or should research occur throughout the entire process?

Topic/Interests: (All areas of interest would be geared specifically to middle school students)

  1. School Climate and perceptions of leaders/administrators on student performance/school climate
  2. Efficacy of Home Base disciplinary procedures in RPS
  3. Importance of social workers within RPS on student retention/graduation rates/mental health
  4. How difficult/what barriers would I have to cross in order to get access to student records
  5. Although I am thinking about an MPP program w/ a concentration in ed. policy, If I decide to focus my Thesis on a related topic but decide to pursue a different graduate program, could my Honor’s Thesis still give me an advantage in the process of applying for an unrelated program?