Education and Information Technologies

, Volume 22, Issue 4, pp 1817–1824 | Cite as

Digital badges – rewards for learning?

  • Rebecca Shields
  • Ritesh ChughEmail author


Digital badges are quickly becoming an appropriate, easy and efficient way for educators, community groups and other professional organisations, to exhibit and reward participants for skills obtained in professional development or formal and informal learning. This paper offers an account of digital badges, how they work and the underlying benefits for learners and educational institutions. It also evaluates the use of digital badges to engage and motivate learners. It is this engagement and motivation strategy that a short non-award course for high school students seeks to replicate through many different learning strategies, one of those being the use of digital badges. A digital badging model has been proposed, which shows the four stages educators go through in their decision to use digital badges. Finally, a double-loop learning process has been suggested that could help educators in the implementation of digital badges.


Digital badges Education Motivation Intrinsic motivation Extrinsic motivation Engagement Learning Learners Skills Credentials 


  1. Appel, M. (2012). Are heavy users of computer games and social media more computer literate? Computers and Education, 59, 1339–1349.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Bixler, B., & Layng, K. (2013). Digital badges in higher education. Accessed 26 July 2015.
  3. Bowen, K., & Thomas, A. (2014). Badges: a common currency for learning. Change: The Magazine of Higher Learning, 46(1), 21–25.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Cassells, T., Broin, D., & Power, K. (2016). Increasing student engagement with gamification. 9th European Conference on Games Based Learning, 8–9, 770–773.Google Scholar
  5. Chugh, R. (2010). E-learning tools and their impact on pedagogy. In Ubha, D.S. & Kaur J. (eds), Emerging Paradigms in Commerce and Management Education. GSSDGS Khalsa College Press, Patiala, India, 58–81, ISBN: 978-81-909755-2-0.
  6. Educause (2014). Educause 7 things you should know about ... Badging for Professional Development. Accessed 26 July 2015.
  7. Finkelstein, J., Knight, E., Manning, S. (2013). American Institutes for Research. The potential and value of using digital badges for adult learners. Accessed 26 July 2015.
  8. Gibson, D., Ostashewski, N., Flintoff, K., Grant, S., & Knight, E. (2015). Digital badges in education. Education and Information Technologies, 20(2), 403–410.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Grant, S. (2014). What counts as learning: open digital badges for new opportunities. Irvine: Digital Media and Learning Research Hub. Accessed 28 July 2015.
  10. Hense, J., & Mandl, H. (2012). Learning in or with games? Quality criteria for digital learning games from the perspectives of learning, emotion, and motivation theory. In Sampson, D.G., Spector, J.M., Ifenthaler, D., & Isaias, P. (eds.), Proceedings of the IADIS International Conference on Cognition and Exploratory Learning in Digital Age, 19-21 October, Madrid, 19–26.Google Scholar
  11. Hickey, D.T., Otto, N., Itow, R., Schenke, K., Tran, C., & Chow, C. (2014). Badges design principles documentation project; Interim report. Accessed 15 June 2016.
  12. Laskowski, M., & Badurowicz, M. (2014). Gamification in higher education: a case study. Make Learn International Conference, 25–27, 971–975.Google Scholar
  13. Lepper, M. R., Henderlong Corpus, J., & Iyengar, S. S. (2005). Intrinsic and extrinsic motivational orientations in the classroom: Age differences and academic correlates. Journal of Educational Psychology, 97, 184–196. doi: 10.1037/0022-0663.97.2.184.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Lin, Y., McKeachie, W. J., & Kim, Y. C. (2003). College student intrinsic and/or extrinsic motivation and learning. Learning and Individual Differences, 13(3), 251–258.Google Scholar
  15. McDaniel, R., & Fanfarelli, J. (2016). Building better digital badges pairing completion logic with psychological factors. Simulation & Gaming, 47(1), 73–102.Google Scholar
  16. McGeown, S. P., Putwain, D., Geijer Simpson, E., Boffey, E., Markham, J., & Vince, A. (2014). Predictors of adolescents’ academic motivation: Personality, self- efficacy and adolescents’ characteristics. Learning and Individual Differences, 32, 278–286. doi: 10.1016/j.lindf.2014.03.022.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Soenens, B., & Vansteenkiste, M. (2005). Antecedents and outcomes of self-determination in three life domains: the role of parents’ and teachers’ autonomy support. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 34, 589–604. doi: 10.1007/s10964-005-8948-y.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Tagg, J. (2007). Double-loop learning in higher education. Change: The Magazine of Higher Learning, 39(4), 36–41.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Toven-Lindsey, B., Rhoads, R. A., & Lozano, J. B. (2015). Virtually unlimited classrooms: pedagogical practices in massive open online courses. Internet and Higher Education, 24, 1–12.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre for Professional Development, School of Nursing and MidwiferyCentral Queensland University, RockhamptonNorth Rockhampton QLDAustralia
  2. 2.School of Engineering & Technology, Higher Education DivisionCentral Queensland University, MelbourneMelbourneAustralia

Personalised recommendations