SimpleCert® News

An Experiment Shows that Certificates Encourage Students to Attend After-School Tutoring Sessions

“We found that the students in the certificate group attended 42.5 percent more of their allocated tutoring hours than students in the control group.”

We found the following article that quantitatively shows that certificates of recognition encourage Students, read below:

Matthew G. Springer, Vanderbilt University

Many parts of the federal education law called No Child Left Behind were highly visible, but one of the less known provisions, the Supplemental Educational Services provision set aside funds to allow low-income students in poorly performing schools to get free access to after-school tutoring. Research has found that the benefits of this provision vary, depending on location and the types of providers offering tutoring services. But regardless of benefits, low attendance has been a consistent problem. Using a randomized experiment, my colleagues and I set out to test whether students eligible for tutoring would attend sessions more regularly if they got either certificates of praise or money for doing so.

How the Study Worked

We randomly selected 300 5th to 8th grade students in a large southern urban school district who were eligible to receive supplemental educational services. Prior studies found tutoring services in this district to be relatively high quality. To see whether use of those services could be improved, we randomly assigned students in our study to one of three subgroups:

  • Students in one group got a reward of $100 (distributed via an online platform) for consistent attendance at tutoring sessions.
  • Students in a second group got certificates of recognition for consistent attendance, signed by the school’s district superintendent and mailed to their homes.
  • Students in the third group were a control group, whose members received no experimental incentives.

Praise Matters More Than Money

Our results were striking. The students who were offered up to $100 for regular attendance were no more likely to attend tutoring sessions than if students were offered nothing at all. However, when we offered students and their parents a certificate, attendance went dramatically up. Students in the certificate group attended about 40 percent more of their tutoring hours than students in the control group who got no rewards or praise.

Our results parallel those from prior studies, where paying students and teachers for higher test scores proved ineffective. However, those earlier studies were not a definitive test of monetary rewards, because teachers and students might have lacked the knowledge or support they needed to improve test scores. In other words, you can offer a man more money to catch more fish, but he will not be able to claim the money if you don’t help him improve his fishing skills.

In our study of attendance at tutoring sessions, the situation was different. We offered money to students who attended regularly – and when they got to their tutoring sessions, there was someone to help them improve their skills in reading and math. The ambiguity that plagued interpretation of the experiments where teachers and students were offered money to improve test scores does not hold for our experiment.

Although the benefits of the monetary incentives were negligible, we found that the students in the certificate group attended 42.5 percent more of their allocated tutoring hours than students in the control group. This is a very strong effect – and the impact of offering the certificate for good attendance was especially strong for female students, who attended significantly more of their allocated tutoring hours than male students who were also offered certificates.

Policy Implications

Policymakers and practitioners seeking to increase attendance of tutoring sessions and other underutilized student supports should note how cost effective it is to offer certificates. In our study, providing the certificates cost about $9 for each student who completed all of the tutoring sessions. The cost for monetary rewards was obviously much more – more than $100 for each student who completed all the allocated hours. In short, the certificate intervention is more than 6,000 times more cost-effective than the monetary incentive. Our estimates are rough and paint an extreme picture. But they illustrate an important conclusion: non-monetary incentives can both work better than doling out money and can be a lot cheaper way to nudge students toward educational success.

Even so, the results of our experiment do not offer a comprehensive answer to an ongoing puzzle: Would it work to offer certificates of recognition to try to motivate many kinds of desirable student behavior?  Using certificates might not work as well if they were more widely used, because economic theory suggests that the value ascribed to a certificate of recognition would likely have diminishing marginal utility – that is, students would care less about earning these certificates if they were awarded all the time to reward all kinds of things teachers and parents want students to do.

Even in our own study, it might be that a second certificate of recognition would not have the same impact as the first. Furthermore, earning a certificate of recognition might not matter as much to a student who consistently brings home excellent report cards as it would to a student who earns lower grades. In real world applications, educators using non-monetary incentives may need to take such possible diminishing returns into account.

Even so, our results should inspire measured enthusiasm. Many other experiments with student incentives have registered disappointing results, but we found something that works well at very low cost. Educators should try incentives of this sort to boost participation in underutilized programs. And our study should also inspire researchers to do more nuanced and imaginative research on student incentives.

Read more in Matthew Springer, “Monetary vs. Non-Monetary Student Incentives for Tutoring Services: A Randomized Controlled Trial,” (with Brooks Rosenquist and Walker Swain). Journal of Research on Educational Effectiveness 8 (2015):453-474.                                                                                                                      April 2016

This article was originally published on Scholars Strategy Network. Read the original article.

Are you a NSCA® CEU Provider?

Create your certificates with SimpleCert®!

Now that we understand some of the benefits of why becoming a provider is beneficial (see last post), let’s look more closely as CEU providers, for example we wrote about NASBA.

We believe that continuous education allows individuals to improve their craft and stay present as there will always be improvements, advancements, skills, and changes. For example, we came across NSCA® – National Strength and Conditioning Association.

They provide certification for the following programs:

• The Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist® (CSCS®)
• The Certified Special Population Specialist® (CSPS®)
• The NSCA-Certified Personal Trainer® (NSCA-CPT®)
• The Tactical Strength and Conditioning Facilitator® (TSAC-F®)

To stay compliant and be able to re-certify every 3 years, trainers/facilitators/specialist have the option to take an exam or complete and report continuing education units (CEUs) . Depending on when your original certification date is, you may have to earn up to 6.0 CEUs. In their world of strength and conditioning, scientific knowledge, techniques in training, and new equipment are ever changing. Certification is a way to testify that these individuals are competent.

As a NSCA® CEU provider you have enough on your plate to seek CEU approval of your activity and meet the requirements of the application process. Let SimpleCert® help with easily creating the certificate you need to provide once individuals have demonstrated completion of your approved activity. Once you create this certificate in SimpleCert®, adding your logo and own design, you may reuse the certificate template for all your activities. Just have participant’s name, activity name, and date all be merge fields in your template.

And although each participant has to report activity directly to NSCA and maintain their own records. Using SimpleCert® is an easy way to have them log into your account and keep their documentation on file through our attendee portal and administrative STORE module.

Thank you, NSCA® and its providers for dedicating your organizations to improving, helping, and researching ways to advance the strength and conditioning professional’s knowledge that in-turn helps others find ways to improve their health.

How Award Certificate Templates Can Help Motivate Students

A certificate of recognition for a job well done is a great way to stimulate follow-through and reinforce participation. To reward a student with something tangible like a certificate allows the student to display his or her accomplishments. They can show their parents, siblings, peers and most importantly themselves, by hanging it up on their wall. It is also a great way motivate students to set higher expectations for themselves and their peers. Implementing a reward program is beneficial not only for the student but for those around them.

  • The student is acknowledged for a specific behavior. This makes the student feel connected and valued, which is a basic human need.
  • When a student is positively reinforced (by receiving a reward), this motivates others around them to want to succeed as well.
  • The achieving student realizes what he or she can accomplish and this motivates them to continue to want to succeed.

SimpleCert® makes it easy to create student award certificates such as: Math Wonder, Rocket Scientist Award, Best Handwriting Award, Grammar Master, Reading Rockstar, Perfect Attendance Award, Best Citizenship Award, Most Improved Award, Most Valuable Player, Student of the Month Award to name a few.

Certificates can also reward the giver…..

Are you a NASBA CPE Sponsor? SimpleCert® is the solution to your CPE submission requirements.

CPE Certificate of Completion

The idea and concept of SimpleCert® was born from the need to find a simple solution to creating certificates of completion for Group Internet Based programs. While many of the webinar platforms now have a way to create certificates, they don’t have the ability to store them or have them conveniently located in one place. As a NASBA CPE Sponsor, you can use, create, and access SimpleCert® for each of your CPE program certificates. SimpleCert® automatically keeps required records of participation, dates, and number of CPE credits earned, all within a single management system.

However, the best part of SimpleCert® might actually be how it supports you and your certificate recipients after credits have been awarded. With SimpleCert®’ s flexible subscription plans, you can choose how to manage your CPE Program. Our monthly subscription plans provide you with a custom branded portal for your participants to log in and access all their certificates in one place at any time (even after the event). This plan also allows you to export your program certificates and recipient lists together to keep for your five-year retention requirement.  Or you may want to select SimpleCert®’ s Pay-As-You-Go plan, which still allows you to access to re-send past certificates and track distribution, but does not require a monthly commitment from you.

Don’t want to commit to a SimpleCert® subscription until NASBA approves your program? No problem! Use your monthly free credits to create the certificate that needs to be submitted with your application. Just follow their guidelines here: We even have a free certificate template with the necessary required elements listed available for you to use.

Certificate of the Month Program

Hello to the SimpleCert® Community!  Frequent readers of this blog will know that we go to great effort here  to provide you with tips, tricks and updates on how to make SimpleCert® work even harder for you.  For today’s blog, we have exciting news!  Instead of another blog on upcoming feature enhancements, It’s time for us to highlight and showcase you. 

Today we are pleased to announce the creation of a new program that is designed to showcase you, the regular weekly users of SimpleCert®, and the various and creative ways that you have utilized SimpleCert® to work for you.  We’re calling it the “Certificate of the Month” program, and each month we will recognize one of you as our official Certificate of the Month.

Our goal in launching this program is simple:  We’ve been continually impressed and amazed at the creativity, and professionalism that some of you have utilized to create your certificate templates.  Some that we have seen are flat out awesome in their design and effectiveness.  We feel that by showcasing some of the best uses of SimpleCert®, we can inspire and help others out there with ideas of how to make their own unique certificate masterpiece.

Our criteria for selecting a Certificate of the Month is fairly straight forward.  Entrants will be reviewed by our (ahem) esteemed panel of judges, with attention paid to creativity, use of graphics and design, and the effective use of elements of SimpleCert® to achieve the greatest levels of automation  Also, to be considered for the certificate of the Month, the CertSet must have been used in at least one Project.  If you’d like your certificate to be considered for the Certificate of the Month program, or you know of someone who you want to nominate, send an email to .  Be sure to include the company URL and title of the CertSet that you are nominating.  Lucky winners of the Certificate of the Month program will receive 250 credits to their account!

So be sure to check out the new Certificate of the Month page on our website,

Understanding how credits are used, updating to your Certificate Templates, and more exciting items around the corner!

Hello to the SimpleCert® Community! As is normal for the spring season, we’ve been busy with updates and fixes to allow SimpleCert® to work even better for you. In addition to that, several of you have contacted us with questions regarding how credits are charged to your account, and we felt it would be a good idea to fully explain how that process works so you have a clear understanding how credits are used in your SimpleCert® account. Also in this blog is some information on how you can ensure your SimpleCert® subscription is up to date, and then to wrap up we’ll leave you with some exciting announcements of things to come.

As you are all probably aware, a free subscription to SimpleCert® gives you the ability to create one certificate template. Remember a certificate template (what we call a “Cert Set”) is a certificate design, and a corresponding notification email that you send to your recipients to distribute that certificate. With a free subscription to SimpleCert®, you can use that Certificate template up to 10 times per month.

Let’s say for example you teach a yoga class, and you have 10 students per month in that class. You could use SimpleCert® to design a yoga class certificate template (Cert Set), and then at the end of each month, you could email each of your 10 students a customized certificate from SimpleCert® – all for free. Brilliant! NOW – let’s say business is good, and you decide to increase the size of your yoga class up to 20 students per month. As part of the class completion, you will need to create a total of 20 certificates per month – one for each student. SimpleCert®’s free subscription will cover the first 10 certificates as you know, but then you will need to purchase the ability to create 10 more certificates to cover your full class size. When you purchase credits, you are purchasing the ability to create additional certificates above what’s provided in the free subscription. Once credit allows you to create one certificate.

Notice that I’ve taken care to describe a credit as the ability to create a single certificate, and not to distribute – or email – that certificate. That’s an important distinction, and one that several of you have been asking about. The reason for this is clear when you think about it. SimpleCert® is designed to allow you to distribute certificates however and whenever it works best for you. If a recipient has lost the notification email you previously sent for example, you can re-send that notification email to that person without additional cost. Some people prefer to print out certificates to distribute to people in person, versus distributing certificates via email. A system that tracked usage by email blasts would obviously not work for them.

In fact, once you have created a certificate for someone, you can send it out multiple ways, and multiple times:  You can print it out, you can email it, and re-email it…. as much as you need and you will never use more than one credit for that certificate.  This is also why credits are deducted from your account when you create certificates by saving a project, and not when you actually send them out.  So remember the rule:  one credit equals one certificate – not the ability to send that certificate – and you will be good to go.

Next up – here’s another topic worth talking through, as a few of you have also asked how bug fixes and feature enhancements are rolled into your certificate templates and accounts. I’ll try not to get too far down into the details here!  When you use SimpleCert® to create Diplomas, Award Certificates, etc, you are utilizing software that resides in the cloud – but like all browser-based software SimpleCert® also leverages elements that are cached (stored) within your internet browser.  When new updates and bug fixes are released, we must deliver those enhancements not only to the cloud, but we also have to tell your computer browser to clear its cache and pull down fresh updates and code.  There’s a handy feature within your account that will allow YOU to perform this action, whenever needed.  In the account settings area of your account, note there is a section titled “Updates.”Simplecert Updates

By clicking in there and clicking “Update System” you are automatically telling your browser to pull down any new and updated code.  When there is a new update release we will notify you, but it’s also a great idea to periodically go in and update your system just to make sure everything is current.  If you contact our support with an issue, chances are the first thing they will ask you to do is to update your system.  So when in doubt, update your system! You will then know you are on the up and up.

Lastly, we are always working here to improve SimpleCert®.  Keep the comments, suggestions and questions coming – a good portion of our feature upgrades come from you!  Keep them coming.  We have some exciting enhancements to release, as well as improved ways to get information out to you.  So stay tuned to this blog, use the FAQ page on our website, and leverage the world class support team here to help.  Thanks again to each of you!

The SimpleCert® Team

Need help with your Certificate Template? Support is now just a click away

Happy Thanksgiving to the SimpleCert® community! You will remember in our Sept 14 blog that this fall has seen many updates to how users can design and complete certificate templates from within the Build Module of SimpleCert®.  Please do be sure to read thru the past blogs to stay up to stay informed of these improvements – and we’re not done with updates just yet!  Our thanks as always go to many of you who have sent us your ideas and suggestions, on how to make SimpleCert® work better for you.

One great update is the ability for you to contact SimpleCert® support from directly within the tool itself.  Let’s say for example you are building a Diploma Certificate and need help with a merge variable item; or perhaps as part of your certificate template you have an unusual design that you need help with.  Instead of exiting the tool and going back to the website to contact support, it’s now easy to click on the “Contact Support” link directly on the top right side of the tool.  Regardless of where you are in the tool, the “Contact Support“ link will always be right there and available to you.Contact Support

In the end our goal is to make the creation of your certificate template, and the distribution of your certificates, as easy as possible.  Whether you are taking a blank certificate and using that as the basis for your certificate template, or utilizing one of the many templates that are automatically available for you from within the tool, we understand you have better things to do than to spend hours upon hours  managing your certificate distribution program!  So use SimpleCert®, keep the feedback coming, and get on with more important items in your life!


Happy Thanksgiving everyone!
The SimpleCert® Team

Modesto High – Helping to uplift their community

Modesto High
Photo Credit: Modesto High

Here at SimpleCert® HQ, we always have an interest in hearing of creative ways people use SimpleCert®, and how certificates and awards in general are used to enrich and acknowledge others.  If you have a unique certificate or reason for using SimpleCert®, we’d love to hear about it!  Shoot us an email at, and if it’s a great example we’ll feature you and your story in our blog!

Full Disclosure:  This story below has NOTHING to do about SimpleCert® – But When we saw it we thought it was such a great story that we wanted to share it with you.

Recently, at Modesto High in Modesto California, 45 parents completed a 4-week computer skills program, and for completing this program they received both a certificate of completion as well as a computer!  You can read the full story here.  The 4 week classes were taught as part of the schools “Learn to Earn” program, and were taught in Spanish, which is the home language of more than half of all Modesto High School Students.  This is such a great story of a school working to better the lives of not only their students, but of the community as well.  Great job Modesto High!  Recognition and appreciation is also due to Scott’s 2nd Chance Computers and to Modesto, for refurbishing and donating the computers to the parents who completed the class.  Thank you for working to make our world that much more connected, and improved!

As we mentioned in our past few blogs we’ve been busy all this fall with rolling out updates and feature enhancements to SimpleCert®.  From revising how you create your certificate templates, to increasing the abilities of what SimpleCert® can do for you we’ve been busy and have many more exciting updates to announce.   Plan to check back next week for another blog to highlight the newest updates!

Lastly, for anyone at Modesto High:   If you could ever use SimpleCert® to help manage and distribute certificates,  we’d love to support you – on us – however we can.  It’s the least we can do to help and acknowledge the positive impact you are having to your community.  Please do let us know!

The SimpleCert® Team

Time for Updates at SimpleCert®!

Time for Updates at SimpleCert®!

It’s time for updates at SimpleCert®! Like many places, it’s a truth here that after a busy spring  season, our brains turn to mush and we have no choice but to find creative ways to spend time at the beach, or the mountains, or at a concert… anywhere to refill the creative coffers and rest our weary heads.  Preferably with a tasty beverage in hand.  Coming out of Labor Day and with summer now behind us, our team is rested, refreshed, and focused exclusively on ways to make SimpleCert® an even better tool for your certificate creation needs.

If you read our last post from July, you know that you can now add attachments to your notification emails in your certificate templates!  This update was requested by one of you in the SimpleCert® community, and has already proved to be a great feature enhancement for many.  Following along those steps, we’re happy to announce 2 MORE improvements that we think you will love:

  • account.  Now there’s an easy way to copy an existing certificate as a template when adding a new Certificate Template to your account!  From within the Build Module, simply purchase a new Cert set for your account – and then just click on the “Duplicate” icon that’s on the top left corner of your already existing Cert Set.  Presto! CertSet  A new Certificate Template that’s a copy of your existing Cert Set, that you can now easily customize.  We realize that for many of you who do manage multiple certificate programs, being able to utilize an existing design when creating a new template is a great way to save time and energy.  No more starting with a blank Certificate!
  • AlignCenterBAM! Go ahead and file this one under “Why didn’t you think of this before?”, you won’t hurt our feelings.  But we hope it helps as you continue to build your certificate masterpieces.

Be sure to check back here again soon for further updates – there are several others in the works that we will be releasing soon.  And don’t forget if you ever need help building your certificate templates you can reach out to at any point.  And remember you can also check out our tutorials and how-too videos on our YouTube channel at any point for great tips and pointers.

Happy Certificating!

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