Stinkin' Badges: Why We Need 'Em and How to Use 'Em

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Information about Stinkin' Badges: Why We Need 'Em and How to Use 'Em

Published on March 4, 2014

Author: drkelvinthompson



Presentation w/ Rudy McDaniel and Joseph Fanfarelli at 2014 Information Fluency Conference. Slidecast (synchronized audio + slides) at: Or listen to session audio while manually viewing slides at:

Stinking Badges: Why We Need Em’ and How to Use Em’ Rudy McDaniel, Joseph Fanfarelli, and Kelvin Thompson Information Fluency Conference University of Central Florida February 27, 2014

Outline • • • • Overview Four Quick Case Studies of Badging Projects Toward a Badge Design Taxonomy Discussion / Q&A • Note: these slides can be downloaded from: or

Achievements and Badges • Achievements, or earned tokens of accomplishment, often encourage players to spend more time within digital systems (esp. videogames) and to alter their playing habits in order to unlock particular types of challenges (e.g., find every coin in a given area or unlock a particular puzzle within a certain amount of time). • Badges, or visible markers of achievement, have now made the transition from entertainment media to other forms of scholarship and pedagogy, particularly in online learning environments (Jindal, 2011; Bruckman, 2004; Lindgren & McDaniel, 2011; Lindgren, McDaniel, & Friskics, 2011).

Badge graphics courtesy of Matthew Dunn

Badges Are Not New Video Games Military Girl Scouts

How Do Badges Work? • Badge = Task-reward system. – Task - Can present a task to complete. – Reward – Can also serve as a reward for completing the task. • Rewards for completing goals can be – Internal to the system (e.g. Points). – External to the system (e.g. Free or discounted “stuff”). – The badge, itself.

Badges Are Gaining Widespread Attention • A few familiar names that are actively taking part in badging: urdue

What Makes Them So Interesting? • Badges can serve as: – – – – – Goal setters Motivators Inspiration to Explore Creativity Boosters Progress Trackers • Connect Badge Criteria to Course Objectives • Expected vs. Unexpected Badges – Foster different goals. – Expected may help in achieving a specific purpose, while Unexpected may hurt the purpose (and vice versa).

Implications for Education • Motivate students to do their best work. – Or additional work. • Help students set goals for clearer routes to success. • More precisely and creatively track progress, in comparison to the final grade in a course. • Encourage students to implement creative thinking to discover unexpected achievements. • We will now discuss some of our implementations.

Dumb(?) Things I’ve Done with Badges • • • • Badges seen only by recipient Badges not easily shareable Badges as “back-handed compliments” Badges for required activities


BlendKit2012 Subject Type Blended learning Professional Development Level Size Badge Source Badge Platform Focus 1230 enrolled Graphic designer Developer + Mozilla Framework Competencies Grades/Badges Badges only List/Easter Eggs Badge list Viewable By Status Self Complete


EME5050 Subject Ed Tech Type Academic Level Grad Size 15-25 Badge Source Badge Platform Focus Purdue Passport Credly 2nd level Competencies Grades/Badges Grades + Badges List/Easter Eggs Easter Eggs Viewable By Status Class 3rd Iteration Underway


Course Structure • 30 different modules to choose from at 10 different points in the semester. • A back story involving a media mogul recruiting new students (the “dream job” scenario) is released via four different animations throughout the course.

Example Module Selection

Assessment Approach • Implementation of course technology and curriculum with ~100 students in Fall 2010 and ~200 students in Fall 2011 was successful • Badges were added in Fall 2011 version of the course

Sample Badge

Comparing Badges

Assessing the Effects of Badges • Several components of assessment including student project analysis, focus groups, and comparisons to other courses • Focus here is on engagement and learning surveys that asked specifically about the badges • 206 students completed at least one survey • 127 completed both pre- and post-surveys

Student Surveys To what extent did you believe that having the ability to choose which module to take throughout the course was a positive feature that helped you to learn? Extremely Positive Mostly Positive Somewhat Positive Not at all Positive I found myself working harder on assignments/projects in order to acquire achievements. Strongly Disagree 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Strongly Agree In the last 8 weeks, how often have you discussed ideas from this course outside of class? Very Often Often Sometimes Never • Some questions adapted from the 2010 NSSE

General Attitudes

General Attitudes

Attitudes - Badges Felt Achievement System Had Positive Impact on Course Motivated by Other Students Receiving Achievements 7 = Strongly Agree 7 = Strongly Agree 7 7 6 6 5 5 4 4 3 3 2 2 1 1 0 0 Males Females Males Females

Attitudes - Badges Variable 1 Felt Achievement System Was Positive (1 to 7) Worked Harder To Receive Achievements (1 to 7) Worked Harder To Receive Achievements (1 to 7) Seeing Others Get Achievements Was Motivating (1 to 7) Pearson Correlation (r) Significance (p) Discussed Ideas Outside of Class (1 to 7) .175 .040* Commented On Other Students’ Work (1 to 7) .217 .010* Amount Of Time Spent Collaborating With Other Students .242 .004** Total Number Hours Spend On Course Per Week .158 .064 Variable 2 • Post-Survey: Positive feelings about badge system was correlated with other positive feelings in the course

Assessment Summary • Importance of “framing” the achievement system at the outset • Interesting gender patterns – suggests badge systems may be a productive means of targeting female learners

Case Study #4: Two Current UCF Courses • 1 Semester, 158 Undergraduates • 2 courses: Graphic Design (99 students) and Web Design (59 students). – 2 sections of each. » 1 section of each has badges. » 1 section of each does not. Graphic Design 1 Graphic Design 2 Web Design Web Design 1 2 Badges Yes No Yes No Students 49 50 30 29

Current Courses: Background • Courses are meant to prepare students for the Adobe Certified Expert (ACE) Exam in the related software. – Web Design = Dreamweaver – Graphic Design = Photoshop • Completely web-based 16 week courses. • Balanced emphasis on Quizzes / Exams and Project-based assignments.

Current Courses: Badges • Badges are: – Unexpected - No list of possible badges can be found by students. – Private – Students cannot see the badges others have earned. – Both Objective and Subjective. • Objective – Named all layers within a Photoshop project. • Subjective – Helped a classmate succeed – Awarded both automatically and by the instructor.

Method of Award • Checkbox in gradebook for each badge simplifies the process

Viewing Badges • Badges can be found from the course menu, like other important course information.

Viewing Badges • Click a badge to see how it was earned

Current Courses: The Goals • Improve: – Motivation – Engagement – Academic Performance • Identify: – Can number of achievements earned be used to predict grades in a certification preparation course?

Badging Observations • Each stakeholder determines value o Issuer, Earner, “Observer,” (Displayer) • Potential value in each phase of badging: o Underlying data/record o Notification email o Claiming (“Save and Share”) o Making public o Linking to specific badges

Unanswered Questions to Ponder • Why do badges appeal to some but not others? • Does badging really engage the unengaged? • What is the right balance of automation and personal attention for course badging? • What is the relationship between badges and formal credentials? • What is the right balance of curricular and co-curricular badging at an institution?

Toward a Taxonomy for Badge Design • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • Subject (e.g., information literacy; educational tech; interdisciplinary; etc.) Type (e.g., academic; professional development; etc.) Level (e.g., undergraduate, graduate; etc.) Tiers (e.g., single tier; multiple difficulty tiers; three cumulative tiers; etc.) Issued By (e.g., single issuer/multiple; instructor; organization; etc.) Scale (e.g., course-level; discipline-specific; institution-wide; public; etc.) Population Size (i.e., to whom badges are available; e.g., 1230; 35; 217; etc.) Badge Image Source (e.g., graphic designer; badge making template; etc.) Platform (e.g., Purdue Passport; Credly; etc.) Focus (e.g., core competencies; off-topic diversion/fun; secondary competencies; etc.) Grades/Badges (e.g., badges only; badges = grades; grades & badges separate; etc.) Fixed/Extensible (e.g., defined list of badges; new badges suggested/added on the fly; etc.) Expected/Unexpected (e.g., published list (“a priori”); discovered Easter eggs; etc.) Visibility (e.g., issuer; earner; bounded group (“class”); public; etc.) Status (e.g., complete; interrupted; underway; planning; etc.) Version 1.1

Thank You! • Rudy McDaniel,, @rutang5 • Joey Fanfarelli, joseph.fanfarelli • Kelvin Thompson,, @kthompso Badge graphics courtesy of Matthew Dunn

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