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

  • Samuel AbramovichEmail author
  • Christian Schunn
  • Ross Mitsuo Higashi
Development Article


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.


Badges Alternative assessment Motivation Intelligent tutors 



Work on this project was funded through grants from the Digital Media and Learning competition and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.


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Copyright information

© Association for Educational Communications and Technology 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Samuel Abramovich
    • 1
    Email author
  • Christian Schunn
    • 1
  • Ross Mitsuo Higashi
    • 2
  1. 1.Learning Research and Development CenterUniversity of PittsburghPittsburghUSA
  2. 2.Robotics Academy, The National Robotics Engineering CenterCarnegie Mellon UniversityPittsburghUSA

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