Badge-Based STEM Assessment: Current Terrain and the Road Ahead

Principal Investigator: 
Project Overview
Background & Purpose: 

For many years, badges have served as indicators of achievement by the Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, and the military, among many others. In recent years, a number of factors—including new technologies and increased learning opportunities outside of school—have prompted the use of badges in informal education settings. Endeavors to create “open badge” technology systems and badge-based assessments have become popular and been adopted by a wide array of communities, from policy makers to informal learning organizations to K16 educators to funders. Although considerable progress has been made in using badges for learning, there has not been an effort to study these efforts across organizations and individuals to learn how best to use them to document and incentivize STEM-related accomplishments and acknowledge. With support from the National Science Foundation, the New York Hall of Science (NYSCI) is conducting an in-depth study of the current state of badges, including conceptualizations, rationale, systems, key contributors, and to identify challenges as well as opportunities for STEM-related badges. The study -- which has involved the contributions of experts from academia, industry, and STEM learning organizations -- will result in a report that captures broad knowledge and insights for badge-based assessment efforts in STEM fields.

Setting: 

A key component of the project involved a working meeting in Washington, D.C. with roughly one hundred leaders in K-12 education, informal science, higher education, technology, the learning sciences, research, and education policy. The meeting enabled the project to gather expert critical feedback and to inform leaders for whom badges are salient about the state of the field.

Research Design: 

The project uses a cross-sectional research design and will generate evidence that is descriptive [systematic review, analytic essay] and synthetic [meta-analysis]. Original data are being collected using survey research [semi-structured or informal interviews, focus groups] and literature reviews. Project staff will use a descriptive strategy to summarize the findings of meeting transcripts, semi-structured interviews, observation records, and research documents.

Findings: 

Findings will be posted as they become available.

Other Products: 

The project will result in a report summarizing the state of the field.