Asee peer logo

“What’s in it for me?” A Look into First-year Students’ Perceptions of a Digital Badge System

Download Paper |


2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 14, 2015

Start Date

June 14, 2015

End Date

June 17, 2015





Conference Session

First-year Programs Division Technical Session 12: Teaching and Advising Students in that Critical First Year

Tagged Division

First-Year Programs

Page Count


Page Numbers

26.1786.1 - 26.1786.17



Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors


Iryna Ashby Purdue University

visit author page

Iryna Ashby is a Ph.D student in the Learning Design and Technology Program at Purdue University with the research interests focused on program evaluation and learning culture. She is part of the program evaluation team for the Purdue Polytechnic Incubator – a new initiate at Purdue College of Technology aimed to redesign undergraduate student experiences through offering a combination of deep liberal arts experiences with student-driven, hands-on project-based learning.

visit author page


Marisa Exter Purdue University

visit author page

Marisa Exter is an Assistant Professor of Learning Design and Technology in the College of Education at Purdue University. Dr. Exter’s research aims to provide recommendations to improve or enhance university-level design and technology programs (such as Instructional Design, Computer Science, and Engineering). Some of her previous research has focused on software designers’ formal and non-formal educational experiences and use of precedent materials, and experienced instructional designers’ beliefs about design character. These studies have highlighted the importance of cross-disciplinary skills and student engagement in large-scale, real-world projects.

Dr. Exter currently leads an effort to evaluate a new multidisciplinary degree program which provides both liberal arts and technical content through competency-based experiential learning.

visit author page

Download Paper |


“What’s in it for me?” A Look into First-Year Students’ Perceptions of a Digital Badge SystemEngineering and technical education are highly structured fields that often envision a pre-determined educational path for an undergraduate student to ensure the acquisition of requiredskills. Yet, this pre-determined path frequently fails to reflect individual strengths and abilities ofstudents, which could provide them an edge in a competitive job market (Finkestein, Knight, &Manning, 2013). Highly structured programs do not provide students with the opportunity foractive involvement in every step of knowledge building, especially including goal setting andself-assessment, which are strong predictors of student performance and mastery (Alliance forExcellent Education, 2013). To overcome challenges of the industrial-age approach (Reigeluth &Carr-Chellman, 2009) to knowledge creation as it is known now, and allow students to beactively involved in building their competencies, a new four-year program was created thatutilizes a competency-based digital badge ecosystem to reflect student mastery ofskills/competencies within both engineering/technology and humanities areas. A primary goal ofthe program is to grow a new echelon of self-determined students who are more prepared for thediverse requirements and challenges set out by the fast-paced job market.While in its first year, the individualized approach and benefits of a wider exploration of skillsreflected through the badge system created interest and support among the freshmen enrolled inthe new program. However, the novelty of the program and the deviation from the traditionalpath of class grades also created a fair degree of anxiety in students. This paper will explore thebenefits and hurdles of using the badge system within this innovative program from a first-yearstudent’s point of view. Data were gathered through student interviews and surveys collected atthe mid- and end-of-semester points to allow for both qualitative and quantitative representationof their opinions. Additionally, we will discuss implications and transferability of our findingsand lessons learned to other courses or programs in the field.References:Alliance for Excellent Education. (2013). Expanding education and workforce opportunities through digital badges. Available from all4ed.orgFinkestein, J., Knight, E., & Manning, S. (2013). The potential and value of using digital badges for adult learners. Draft for public comment. American Institutes for Research.Reigeluth, C., & Carr-Chellman, A. (2009). Instructional design theories and models: Building a common knowledge base (V.III). New York, NY: Routledge

Ashby, I., & Exter, M. (2015, June), “What’s in it for me?” A Look into First-year Students’ Perceptions of a Digital Badge System Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.23350

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2015 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015