Digital Badges and Student Motivation in the Undergraduate General Chemistry Laboratory

Sarah Hensiek, Purdue University


Laboratory courses have been the focus of much research and debate in the field of chemistry. One goal for the laboratory that is consistently cited by faculty is student learning of hands-on skills. Despite this, hands-on skills are rarely assessed in practice because to do so is resource intensive. Digital badges allow each individual student to demonstrate their proficiency in a hands-on lab skill while relieving the constraints associated with assessing individual students during a laboratory period. Previously at Purdue, digital badges were developed for the pipet, buret, and volumetric flask. These badges were shown to support student learning of these techniques. This study builds on that work by investigating student perceptions of digital badges in the chemistry laboratory. As the badges are posited to influence student motivation, we aim to look at student motivation in the laboratory and how this interacts with their perception of the badges and what potential impact the badges have on the students’ laboratory experience. To answer these questions, the theoretical framework of expectancy value theory was used. A survey was developed to measure student value beliefs regarding laboratory techniques. The validation and implementation of the survey is discussed as well as its use to identify interview participants for a qualitative study of student motivation. Students with varying levels of motivation who have completed the badges were interviewed to gain an understanding of the relationship between motivation and digital badges in the laboratory. Several themes in student motivation and perception of badges were identified and compared with prior work to make recommendations for the future implementation of badging activities in the curriculum.




Towns, Purdue University.

Subject Area

Chemistry|Science education

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