Blog Post

Youth, Badges, and Motivation: A Mini-Collection

As digital badges spread, I find myself spending more and more time responding to people's requests for information about them. Each of these requests has a specific context -- for example "teacher education and research" or "mixed methods research, assessment, and psychometrics." Every time I send off a collection of resources, it seems like that information might be useful to a wider audience. So as these requests come in, I'll start sharing what I collect and post these mini-collections on HASTAC in case they're useful to others. 

Today, a received a request about museums, youth, and extrinsic/motivation. This is the collection I put together:

I'll start with relevant research first, then point to Badges for Lifelong Learning projects. 
To date, the most empirical research done specifially on extrinsic/intrinsic motivation and badging among youth is by Abramovich, Schunn, & Higashi (Badges for Lifelong Learning Competition grantees for Computer Science Student Network). You can find more research in our Digital Badges Annotated Bibliography.
Abramovich, S., Schunn, C., & Higashi, R. (2013). Are badges useful in education?: It depends upon the type of badge and expertise of learner. Education Tech Research Development. Retrieved from:

Annotation: This article discusses how badges are touted as an alternative assessment that can increase learner motivation. The researchers considered two distinct models for educational badges; merit badges and videogame achievements. To begin unpacking the relationship between badges and motivation, they conducted a study using badges within an intelligent-tutor system for teaching applied mathematics to middle-school students. Their findings indicate that badge earning could be driven by learner motivations and that systems with badges could have a positive effect on critical learner motivations. However, badge acquisition patterns were different across learners with different levels of prior knowledge. Different badge types also affected different learners motivation. Additionally, the researchers believe that their findings are compatible with the research finding that extrinsic motivators have a negative influence on learning. The implication for educational badge designers is that they must consider the ability and motivations of learners when choosing what badges to include in their curricula. The authors believe their findings exist as one piece of the large research base needed to understand educational badges.


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