PERFORMANCE PAY IMPROVES ENGAGEMENT, PROGRESS, AND SATISFACTION IN COMPUTER-BASED JOB SKILLS TRAINING OF LOW-INCOME ADULTS

Authors


  • We thank Kristen O'Reilly, Kyle Wolfe, Jacqueline Hampton, and Lucy Billiter for their assistance with this study. This work was supported by Award Numbers R01 DA023864 and T32 DA007209 from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, National Institutes of Health. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institute on Drug Abuse or the National Institutes of Health.

Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Kenneth Silverman, Center for Learning and Health, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, MFL W142, 5200 Eastern Ave., Baltimore, Maryland 21224 (e-mail: ksilverm@jhmi.edu).

Abstract

Advancing the education of low-income adults could increase employment and income, but adult education programs have not successfully engaged low-income adults. Monetary reinforcement may be effective in promoting progress in adult education. This experiment evaluated the benefits of providing incentives for performance in a job-skills training program for low-income, unemployed adults. Participants worked on typing and keypad programs for 7 months. Participants randomly assigned to Group A (n = 23) earned hourly and productivity pay on the typing program (productivity pay), but earned only equalized hourly pay on the keypad program (hourly pay). Group B (n = 19) participants had the opposite contingencies. Participants worked more on, advanced further on, and preferred their productivity pay program. These results show that monetary incentives can increase performance in a job-skills training program, and indicate that payment in adult education programs should be delivered contingent on performance in the training program instead of simply on attendance.

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