pp 1–11 | Cite as

Exploring the Role of Feedback and its Impact within a Digital Badge System from Student Perspectives

  • Erin D. BesserEmail author
  • Timothy J. Newby
Original Paper


In academic settings where digital badges are taking over conventional task formats, educators are faced with the challenge of how to deliver and assess content and skills within badges. Imposing a mastery learning approach, where feedback is key, to a digital badge system may be a potential solution to using digital badges within higher education. As a way to support student learning, Guskey, Journal of Advanced Academics, 19(1), 8–31 (2007) emphasizes the importance of not only frequent feedback but specific feedback. In order to examine how students are using feedback to inform their coursework within a digital badge context, an online survey was designed consisting of open-ended questions about the nature and value of instructional feedback within a digital badge system. Results from the questionnaire indicated three major thematic groups illustrating feedback from the students’ perspective: Importance and Nature of Feedback, Authority over Knowledge and Learning, and Learning for Mastery.


Digital badges Feedback Mastery learning Qualitative research 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

Erin D. Besser declares that he/she has no conflict of interest. Author Timothy J. Newby declares that he/she has no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in this study were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

Supplementary material

11528_2019_386_MOESM1_ESM.docx (579 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 579 kb)


  1. Abramovich, S., Schunn, C., & Higashi, R. M. (2013). Are badges useful in education?: It depends upon the type of badge and expertise of learner. Educational Technology Research and Development, 61, 217–232.Google Scholar
  2. Author (2016a). Exploring the role of feedback and its impact within a digital badge system from multiple perspectives: A case study of preservice teachers (doctoral dissertation, Purdue University).Google Scholar
  3. Author (2016b). Passport to Designing, Developing and Issuing Digital Instructional Badges. In Foundation of digital badges and Micro-Credentials (pp. 179–201). Springer International Publishing.Google Scholar
  4. Balzer, W. K., Doherty, M. E., & O'Connor, R. (1989). Effects of cognitive feedback on performance. Psychological Bulletin, 106(3), 410.Google Scholar
  5. Bangert, A. W. (2004). The seven principles of good practice: A framework for evaluating on-line teaching. The Internet and Higher Education, 7(3), 217–232.Google Scholar
  6. Baxter, P., & Jack, S. (2008). Qualitative case study methodology: Study design and implementation for novice researchers. The Qualitative Report, 13(4), 544–559.Google Scholar
  7. Bloom, B. S. (1968). Learning for mastery. Instruction and curriculum. Regional education Laboratory for the Carolinas and Virginia, topical papers and reprints, number 1. Evaluation Comment, 1(2), n2.Google Scholar
  8. Bloom, B. S. (1976). Human characteristics and school learning. New York. New York: McGraw-Hill.Google Scholar
  9. Boud, D., & Feletti, G. (1998). The challenge of problem-based learning. Psychology Press.Google Scholar
  10. Bowen, K., & Thomas, A. (2014). Badges: A common currency for learning. Change, 46(1), 21–25. Scholar
  11. Brigham Young University: Instructional Psychology, t. (n.d.). How we use badges. Retrieved November 27, 2014, 2014, from
  12. Buell, C. (2013, 2013/08/30). Using Badges to Quantify Learning Outcomes at UC Davis. Retrieved December 10, 2014, 2014, from
  13. Butler, D. L., & Winne, P. H. (1995). Feedback and self-regulated learning: A theoretical synthesis. Review of Educational Research, 65(3), 245–281.Google Scholar
  14. Chickering, A. W., & Gamson, Z. F. (1987). Seven principles for good practice in undergraduate education. AAHE Bulletin, 3, 7.Google Scholar
  15. Chickering, A. W., & Gamson, Z. F. (1989). Seven principles for good practice in undergraduate education. Biochemical Education, 17(3), 140–141.Google Scholar
  16. Creswell, J. W. (2014). Research design: Qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods approaches. Washington, D.C.: SAGE Publications.Google Scholar
  17. Creswell, J. W., & Clark, V. L. P. (2007). Designing and conducting mixed methods research. Washington, D.C.: SAGE Publications.Google Scholar
  18. CS2N. (n.d.). CS2N Badges. Retrieved January 29, 2015, 2015, from
  19. Denzin, N. K., & Lincoln, Y. S. (2011). The SAGE handbook of qualitative research (4th ed.). Thousand Oaks: SAGE Publications.Google Scholar
  20. Ertmer, P. A., & Koehler, A. A. (2014). Online case-based discussions: Examining coverage of the afforded problem space. Educational Technology Research and Development, 62(5), 617–636.Google Scholar
  21. Fain, P. (2014, 2014/01/03). Badging From Within. Retrieved January 27, 2015, 2015, from
  22. Falchikov, N., & Goldfinch, J. (2000). Student peer assessment in higher education: A meta-analysis comparing peer and teacher marks. Review of Educational Research, 70(3), 287–322.Google Scholar
  23. Garrison, C., & Ehringhaus, M. (2007). Formative and summative assessments in the classroom.Google Scholar
  24. Gibson, D. (2013). Assessing Deeper Learning in Open Online Learning Communities. Paper presented at the Society for Information Technology & teacher education international conference 2013, New Orleans, Louisiana, United States. .
  25. Glover, I., & Latif, F. (2013). Investigating perceptions and potential of open badges in formal higher education. Paper presented at the world conference on educational multimedia, hypermedia and telecommunications.Google Scholar
  26. Grant, S. (2014). Badges: Show what you know. Young Adult Library Services, 12(2), 28–32.Google Scholar
  27. Guskey, T. R. (2007). Closing achievement gaps: Revisiting Benjamin S. Bloom's “learning for mastery”. Journal of Advanced Academics, 19(1), 8–31.Google Scholar
  28. Hepplestone, S., & Chikwa, G. (2014). Understanding how students process and use feedback to support their learning. Practitioner Research in Higher Education, 8(1), 41–53.Google Scholar
  29. Higgins, R., Hartley, P., & Skelton, A. (2002). The conscientious consumer: Reconsidering the role of assessment feedback in student learning. Studies in Higher Education, 27(1), 53–64.Google Scholar
  30. Hmelo-Silver, C. E., & Barrows, H. S. (2006). Goals and strategies of a problem-based learning facilitator. Interdisciplinary Journal of Problem-based Learning, 1(1), 4.Google Scholar
  31. Johnson, B., & Christensen, L. (2012). Educational research: Quantitative and qualitative approaches (4th ed.). Los Angeles: SAGE Publications.Google Scholar
  32. Kluger, A. N., & DeNisi, A. (1996). The effects of feedback interventions on performance: A historical review, a meta-analysis, and a preliminary feedback intervention theory. Psychological Bulletin, 119(2), 254.Google Scholar
  33. Kulhavy, R. W. (1977). Feedback in written instruction. Review of Educational Research, 211–232.Google Scholar
  34. Light, D., & Pierson, E. (2014). Increasing student engagement in math: The use of khan academy in Chilean classrooms. International Journal of Education and Development using ICT, 10(2), 103–119.Google Scholar
  35. Lin, C.-H., Liu, E. Z.-F., Chen, Y.-L., Liou, P.-Y., Chang, M., Wu, C.-H., & Yuan, S.-M. (2013). Game-based remedial instruction in mastery learning for upper-primary school students. Educational Technology & Society, 16(2), 271–281.Google Scholar
  36. Lincoln, Y. S., & Guba, E. G. (1986). But is it rigorous? Trustworthiness and authenticity in naturalistic evaluation. New directions for program evaluation, 1986(30), 73–84.Google Scholar
  37. Lynch, R., McNamara, P. M., & Seery, N. (2012). Promoting deep learning in a teacher education programme through self- and peer-assessment and feedback. European Journal of Teacher Education, 35(2), 179–197. Scholar
  38. MacArthur Foundation. (n.d.). DePaul University. Retrieved January 27, 2015, 2015 from
  39. MacArthur Foundation, M. (2014). Digital badges. Retrieved December 6, 2014, from
  40. Mastery Transcript Consortium. (n.d.). Mastery Transcript Consortium. Retrieved September 30, 2018, from
  41. Mayer, R. E. (2008). Learning and instruction (2nd ed.. Ed.). Upper Saddle River, N.J.: Upper Saddle River, N.J.: Pearson Merrill Prentice Hall.Google Scholar
  42. Mehta, N. B., Hull, A. L., Young, J. B., & Stoller, J. K. (2013). Just imagine: New paradigms for medical education. Academic Medicine, 88(10), 1418–1423.Google Scholar
  43. Mettler, E., Massey, C., & Kellman, P. J. (2011). Improving adaptive learning technology through the use of response times. In Paper presented at the proceedings of the 33 rd annual conference of the cognitive science society. Boston, MA: Cognitive Science Society.Google Scholar
  44. Miles, M. B., Huberman, A. M., & Saldaña, J. (2014). Qualitative data analysis: A methods sourcebook. Washington, D.C.: SAGE Publications.Google Scholar
  45. Mozilla. (n.d.). Mozilla Open Badges. Retrieved June 12, 2014, from
  46. Nicol, D. J., & Macfarlane-Dick, D. (2006). Formative assessment and self-regulated learning: A model and seven principles of good feedback practice. Studies in Higher Education, 31(2), 199–218.Google Scholar
  47. Ostashewski, N., & Reid, D. (2015). A history and frameworks of digital badges in education Gamification in Education and Business (pp. 187–200). Springer International Publishing.Google Scholar
  48. Pokorny, H., & Pickford, P. (2010). Complexity, cues, and relationships: Student perceptions of feedback. Active Learning in Higher Education, 11(1), 21–30.Google Scholar
  49. Ramaprasad, A. (1983). On the definition of feedback. Behavioral Science, 28(1), 4–13.Google Scholar
  50. Randall, D. L., Harrison, J. B., & West, R. E. (2013). Giving credit where credit is due: Designing open badges for a technology integration course. Tech Trends, 57(6), 88–95.Google Scholar
  51. Reigeluth, C. M., & Karnopp, J. R. (2013). Reinventing schools: It’s time to break the mold. New York: Rowman & Littlefield Education.Google Scholar
  52. Schunk, D. H. (1983). Developing children's self-efficacy and skills: The roles of social comparative information and goal setting. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 8(1), 76–86.Google Scholar
  53. Seton Hall University's Teaching, L., & Technology, C. (n.d.). Stillman Passport. Retrieved December 10, 2014, 2014 from
  54. Slavin, R. E., & Karweit, N. L. (1984). Mastery learning and student teams: A factorial experiment in urban general mathematics classes. American Educational Research Journal, 21(4), 725–736.Google Scholar
  55. Tally, S. (2012, 2012/12/11). Digital badges show students' skills along with degree. Retrieved January 27, 2015, 2015, from
  56. Tucker, S. A. (1993). Evaluation as feedback in instructional technology: The role of feedback in program evaluation. Interactive Instruction and Feedback (pp. 301–342). Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Educational Technology Publications.Google Scholar
  57. Wonder-McDowell, C., Reutzel, D. R., & Smith, J. A. (2011). Does instructional alignment matter? The Elementary School Journal, 112(2), 259–279.Google Scholar
  58. Wright, C. V., & O'Shea, K. (2014). digital badges and Outcomes-Based Learning. from
  59. Yang, M., & Carless, D. (2013). The feedback triangle and the enhancement of dialogic feedback processes. Teaching in Higher Education, 18(3), 285–297.Google Scholar
  60. Yin, R. K. (2009). Case study research: Design and methods (applied social research methods) (4th ed.). Washington, D.C.: SAGE Publications, Inc.Google Scholar
  61. Yin, R. K. (2014). Case study research: Design and methods (5th ed.). Los Angeles: SAGE Publications.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Association for Educational Communications & Technology 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of South Carolina AikenAikenUSA
  2. 2.Purdue UniversityWest LafayetteUSA

Personalised recommendations