Unanswered questions

What we still need to investigate.

Septimiu88 / Pixabay

Is Badging Fair?

Badging, in our opinion, should be attached to a reward. However, students expressed a concern that they were disadvantaged by the badging system.

Gameification kind of piles the odds against students who have children, or have to work, or have other obligations and seems to cater towards younger students who live at home and do not work, and therefore they have more time to dedicate to earning badges. The prizes create an unfair advantage to student and grades can be greatly affected by how much extra time you have to dedicate to non essential schoolwork. Students all share answers to the games anyway, and the ones where you just play a video students would play on mute while doing other things just to get them done. Therefore eliminating the intended purpose of learning while doing the activities. Although the concept has potential to support students and can create motivation, it needs to be more of a fair system and less punitive.


Badges – I find them unfair – though a creative way to engage student in learning, it is unfair to students who have greater time constraints esp. due to work or children.  Some of us HAVE TO work as we are independent adults & thus we have less time to complete badges/less opportunity for grades & some people may be in burn out with giving all their energy just to pass to have extra can be difficult for some esp. compared to students who still live at home w/ parents.

The initial reaction to comments like this is to remind students that badging is optional and not a waste of time. Every single activity was designed to help students meet the learning objectives of the course, work on assignments or study for exams.

There is a need to explore the feelings of being disadvantaged by the badging system further. Would less enticing rewards create more equity or defeat the purpose of the rewards-based system?

Perhaps limiting badges elements to expected homework is a way to balance this. Students do not do their homework (surprise!). Is it fair to expect that students do their homework?

Was Participation Motivated by Perceived Value or Pressure?

Based on course evaluations, badging in the fourth year course appeared to be more effective than in the first year class taught by Laura. However, both sample sizes were small and anecdotal evidence suggested that students in both groups were motivated by badges. Results need to be interpreted with caution. In both years there were students that felt badging was helpful and those that did not. The evaluations done after course completion may have been influenced by how successful students were in the course. On average, students were successful in the fourth year course.


In Laura’s class

Badging may have been perceived as mandatory in order to be successful in BSN1007 as evidenced by the high participation rate and student comments on the evaluation. In BSN 1007, the perceived value of the cheat sheet on the exam (n=57/64 students claimed it) and peer pressure to earn the class reward of a detailed exam review may have been factors.

The points system may also have been more enticing as students in BSN 1007 were able to choose rewards from a list. In fourth-year specific badges were worth specific rewards.


Rewards claimed in fourth-year

Rewards Number claimed (n = 80 students)
Research Buff Read over


3% from APA Mastrer


High A to Fix APA




High A for a Reference Letter



Rewards claimed in BSN 1007

Rewards Number claimed (n = 67 students)
2 points per item from the treasure chest.

5 items by 2 students

10 points for an extension.


15 points to fix APA errors in an already marked assignment.


15 points for an exam cheat sheet (Week 9).


20 points for a private APA session before a paper due.


10 points for a 1% bonus mark on an already marked assignment.


15 points for a 2% bonus mark on an already marked assignment.



Rewards claimed in BSN 1194

Badge/Reward Total Number of students (n = 67 students)
Math Badge (Bonus marks on tests)

Gold=3 marks


Bronze=1 mark

64 achieved
Assessment lab Master: Student creation/approved

YouTube video=+1% scenario grade

2 achieved; informal interview with students indicated they ran out time to complete
Assessment of Mascot creator. Class activity upload to moodle=1 mark on test 1 43 achieved
Lab master :combined with practice lab super star and  clinical star=final exam review 40 achieved
Clinical Star :combined with practice lab super star and Lab master= detail exam review 38 achieved
Nursing process genius=1 mark on test 2 38
Practice lab superstar :combined with clinical star and Lab master=final exam review 30
Test Question Creator=1 mark on the final exam 0 achieved; informal interview with students indicated they ran out time to complete

Both classes had many unused badges. “Having the opportunity that Laura could read my proposal and give feedback” before marking it was surprising for fourth-year students. Balancing the value of badges against avoiding undue pressure is challenging, particularly when all badge opportunities are geared towards helping students achieve course outcomes.

Is competitiveness a deterrent for learning?

Badging creates competitiveness, which pushes some students to do their best. What is the impact that a competitive atmosphere has on students who are not competitive?


Are Open Badges Better?

Open badging allows students to showcase their achievements outside of the Moodle environment. Showcasing certain badges would enable students to communicate achievements to potential employers, potentially improving buy-in. Click here for more information.


What About Quest-Based Learning?

Quest-based learning takes badging to a new level, enabling students choice in the order in which they achieve badges and explore the course. The key here is promoting agency by giving students power over designing their learning experience. Such an approach would need to be appropriate for the course.