February, 2017

201706Feb15:0015:50The Impact of Digital Achievement Badges on Undergraduate Learner Motivation15:00 - 15:50

Event Details

A lecture by:
Susan Stetson, PhD
School of Liberal Arts and Sciences

When: Monday, February 6, 15:00 – 15:50

Where: 6th Level Auditorium

Organized by: Faculty Research Seminars 2016-17 Series


Susan Stetson holds a PhD in Education focusing on Instructional Design for Online Learning from Capella University, Minnesota. Her scholarly research interests include learner motivation, cognitive load, and using collaborative tools in teaching and learning. She particularly focuses on the achievement-goal theory of motivation in examining the use of digital achievement badges as formative assessment feedback, while she has also written about using wikis as a tool to scaffold academic writing.
Dr. Stetson began teaching at Deree in 2006 in the English for Academic Purposes Program, and the MA in TESOL program. As an instructional designer, she has helped design and develop blended courses in the Graduate School, and is a co-facilitator of the asynchronous Online Faculty Training course.


The study investigated the impact of digital achievement badges on undergraduate learners in liberal studies courses. The study was based on a framework of behavioral underpinnings, achievement-goal theory, and innovative instructional design strategies. This quasi-experimental study involved four sections of the undergraduate course “Psychology as a Social Science”.

Following a pre-test questionnaire to establish self-reported levels of motivation in the course, participants had the option to complete five multiple choice formative assessments on Blackboard as a part of their normal coursework, aimed at improving their understanding of the course content. For two sections, the possibility of earning or upgrading a digital achievement badge accompanied assessment scores of 80% or higher, while the other two sections received assessment scores only.

Following a post-test, motivation levels of the control and treatment groups were compared to determine whether there was a difference in motivation levels for those receiving digital achievement badges with their scores. The study also looked at whether treatment group motivation differed by gender or planned major, and whether learners in the treatment group attempted the online quizzes more than those in the control group.

Findings revealed no significant differences in the motivation levels of the control and treatment groups. Findings in this study add empirical evidence to inform instructors’ and instructional designers’ decisions about the use of digital badges to prevent those decisions being based solely on trends or notoriety of techniques which need further investigation.