Exploring the role of feedback and its impact within a Digital Badge system from multiple perspectives: A case study of preservice teachers

Erin D Besser, Purdue University


The purpose of this qualitative case study is to examine the role feedback plays within the instructional process, and how students are using feedback to inform their course work within Digital Badge contexts. Educators are looking toward Digital Badges as a way to increase student engagement (Abramovich et al., 2013; Glover & Latif, 2013), develop mastery with critical concepts (Mehta et al., 2013), and reduce gaps in student knowledge (Bowen & Thomas, 2014; Guskey, 2007). Feedback is emphasized as a critical component (Bloom, 1968, 1976; Guskey, 2007; Kluger & DeNisi, 1996; Slavin & Karweit, 1984). Instructors need to be able to not only display characteristics of a good instructor, but understand the functions (Balzer et al., 1989; Butler & Winne, 1995) and dimensions (Yang & Carless, 2013) of feedback, and then be able to deliver effective feedback (Nicol & Macfarlane-Dick, 2006). Participants in this study included 78 students and 2 instructors from a large Midwestern public university. Data included instructors’ assignment feedback provided to students and students’ online surveys consisting of open-ended questions about the nature and value of instructional feedback within a Digital Badge system. Analysis of the data ensued and then overarching dimensions occurred through the categorization and synthesis of codes. The findings included six major thematic groups concerning the ways in which instructors provide feedback: Outcome feedback, Motivation and Interaction, Clarification, Opportunities to Further Knowledge, Decreasing Gaps in Knowledge, and Promotes Learning and Cognitive Development. Also included are three major thematic groups illustrating feedback from the students’ perspective: Importance and Nature of Feedback, Authority over Knowledge and Learning, and Learning for Mastery. The recommendations based on the study findings presented a set of “Best Practices,” including Types of Feedback to Provide, Feedback Management and Organization, and The Value of a Good Facilitating Instructor, aimed at helping educators navigate the potential challenges of implementing Digital Badge systems and Mastery Learning approaches. The main conclusion of the research is that feedback consists of various characteristics focusing on general low-level categories to higher-level categories that allow preservice teachers to develop essential skills for teaching and learning.




Newby, Purdue University.

Subject Area

Teacher education|Educational technology

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