Date Approved


Degree Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department or School

Leadership and Counseling

Committee Member

James Berry

Committee Member

David Anderson

Committee Member

Ella Burton

Committee Member

Jon Margerum-Leys


The deficit in STEM skills is a matter of concern for national economies and a major focus for educational policy makers. The development of Information and Communications Technologies (ICT) has resulted in a rapidly changing workforce of global scale. In addition, ICT have fostered the growth of digital and mobile technologies which have been the learning context, formal and informal, for a generation of youth. The purpose of this study was to design an intervention based upon a competency-based, digitally-mediated, learning intervention: digital badges for learning STEM habits of mind and practices. Designed purposefully, digital badge learning trajectories and criteria can be flexible tools for scaffolding, measuring, and communicating the acquisition of knowledge, skills, or competencies. One of the most often discussed attributes of digital badges, is the ability of badges to motivate learners. However, the research base to support this claim is in its infancy; there is little empirical evidence. A skills-based digital badge intervention was designed to demonstrate mastery learning in key, age-appropriate, STEM competencies aligned with Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) and other educational standards. A mixed methods approach was used to study the impact of a digital badge intervention in the sample middle and high school population. Among the findings were statistically significant measures which substantiate that in this student population, the digital badges increased perceived competence and motivated learners to persist at task.

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