Home Content Areas The Why’s and How’s of Student Badges

The Why’s and How’s of Student Badges

by Diana Benner

All individuals want to be recognized when they learn something, and badges can accomplish that. Whether it is mastering a new skill, meeting a goal, or doing a good deed, students (and adults!) seek validation for their achievements.

At first glance, the word “badge” may conjure up images of a Girl Scout’s sash featuring material badges that demonstrate mastery. While the concept is similar, the badges of today have implications far beyond that simple picture. Today’s badges are credentials that represent skills, interests, and achievements earned by an individual through specific projects, programs, courses, or other activities.

Reasons to Use Student Badges in the Classroom

Badges celebrate learning and can motivate students to do well in school and beyond. Take a look at a few reasons why you should reward student learning with badges.

  1. Acknowledge Accomplishments

    student badges

    Click on the image to download a PDF.

Badges show accomplishments. They can be awarded to students for completing a difficult assignment, doing an act of kindness, or improving behavior.

  1. Promote Collaboration

Badges provide greater opportunities for student collaboration, cooperation, and interaction. Students will motivate and encourage one another, as well as compete with one another, to earn various badges in the classroom.

  1. Validate Progress

Badges can certify that students are meeting specific goals and showing progress in their learning. This will lead to visible improvements in the classroom.

  1. Expose Skills

Badges uncover students’ skills that a number or letter grade might not show. This might be empathy, entrepreneurship, leadership, cooperation, or  deep thought. They give students a way to share what they have learned in a public way.

  1. Surpass Traditional Assessments

Badges can be used as an additional assessment tool to assist in the identification of a student’s specific strength and weaknesses. Go beyond written tests, quizzes, and grades in order to identify areas needing improvement.

  1. Give Joy in Learning

Badges can add a fun element to the classroom as students are encouraged to compete against one another.  Show students that there can be fun in learning.


Types of Badges to Use in the Classroom

The type of badge you use in the classroom depends on what works for you and your students.

With digital badges, you can create and download a digital version of the badge and post it to a student portfolio or class blog page.  Some resources for making digital badges can be found at the Badges for Professional Learning blog post.

With traditional badges, you can download or create a badge that you make many copies of and distribute. You could even display them for a while on the classroom bulletin board before giving them to your students.

With button badges, you turn student badges into buttons using a button machine. Students could then pin their earned button on their jacket or backpack.

Have you ever used badges in your classroom before?  If so, what has worked for you?  Leave a comment and let us know!


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