Leaders of higher education value student engagement because of its measured effects on student outcomes such as retention and academic success. To increase engagement, institutions implement measures such as living-learning programs, which combine the residential experience with an academic focus (Arboleda, Wang, Shelley, & Whalen, 2003; Zhao & Kuh, 2004). Institutions also employ residential colleges based on the early structures of Oxford and Cambridge (O’Hara, 2012; Ryan, 2001). To encourage and measure engagement, some residential colleges utilize a variant of a points system, which tracks attendance at community events and other forms of involvement. A points system is (a) a measure of the physical involvement of students (which activities they take part in) and (b) a potentially motivating factor for involvement. There are potential benefits and drawbacks to a points system. It is possible that students who desire to earn rewards or avoid punishments associated with a points system will experience increased extrinsic motivation, leading to psychological engagement as a by-product of their physical participation. However, it is unclear whether such a system can effectively benefit intrinsic motivation in addition to measuring physical participation (Deci & Ryan, 2002).


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