Educational Technology Research and Development

, Volume 61, Issue 2, pp 217–232

Are badges useful in education?: it depends upon the type of badge and expertise of learner


    • Learning Research and Development CenterUniversity of Pittsburgh
  • Christian Schunn
    • Learning Research and Development CenterUniversity of Pittsburgh
  • Ross Mitsuo Higashi
    • Robotics Academy, The National Robotics Engineering CenterCarnegie Mellon University
Development Article

DOI: 10.1007/s11423-013-9289-2

Cite this article as:
Abramovich, S., Schunn, C. & Higashi, R.M. Education Tech Research Dev (2013) 61: 217. doi:10.1007/s11423-013-9289-2


Educational Badges are touted as an alternative assessment that can increase learner motivation. We considered two distinct models for educational badges; merit badges and videogame achievements. To begin unpacking the relationship between badges and motivation, we conducted a study using badges within an intelligent-tutor system for teaching applied mathematics to middle-school students. Our 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, we believe that our 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. We believe our findings exist as one piece of the large research base needed to understand educational badges.


BadgesAlternative assessmentMotivationIntelligent tutors

Copyright information

© Association for Educational Communications and Technology 2013