A DESIGN FOR INTEGRATING DIGITAL BADGES AND COMPETENCY-BASED ASSESSMENT IN GRADUATE RESEARCH METHODS EDUCATION
Competency-Based Design and Assessment
Assessment as a practice involves the systematic collection, review and use of quantitative and qualitative information to improve student learning (Palomba & Banta, 2001). Competency-based assessment by extension, should be performance-oriented and should require tasks that support varying levels of performance, which can be improved upon through practice, reflection and self-regulation (Shavelson, 2013). Competency-based tasks mirror real-world performance expectations and require learners to produce an observable performance that integrates complex physical and/or intellectual skills (Rothwell & Graber, 2011; Shavelson, 2013; USDOE, 2002).
The Ready Develop Integrate Perform (RDIP) Model offers a competency-based approach that informs assessment activities, processes, and decision making at the course and program levels (Haughton, 2017). Competences result from integrative experiences in which skills, abilities, and knowledge are jointly applied to a real-world performance (Voorhees, 2001) and include performer characteristics technical skills, level of motivation, and awareness of bodies of knowledge (Rothwell and Graber, 2011). The RDIP model is an integration of several learning frameworks: Bloom’s Taxonomy (Bloom, Engelhart, Furst, Hill, & Krathwohl, 1956); The Conceptual Learning Model (U.S. Department of Education, 2002; Voorhees, 2001); cross-functional competences (Rothwell and Graber, 2011); The Bologna Process and the Dublin Descriptors (ESG, 2015); and Degree Qualifications Profiles (DQP) (Lumina, 2014).
Digital Badges in Higher Education
A digital badge is a web-enabled token (O’Byrne, Schenke, Willis, & Hickey, 2015) that integrates the criteria and evidence used to earn the badge (Buckingham, 2014). Digital badges are designed to make learning visible and validate learning in both formal and informal settings, hence transforming where and how learning is valued (MacArthur Foundation, n.d.). These technologies support micro-credentialing, enabling colleges and universities to take a modular approach to documenting learning,
This paper describes the use of the RDIP Model to provide a framework for the design of digital badges to support competency-based assessment in a research methods core course.
This work will be presented in two phases:
Phase 1. A brief description of how the RDIP model was applied to examine the course’s design. This analysis was framed by asking two types of questions. Primary questions addressed performance expectations for each competency level. These questions are intended to assess the degree to which the experiences, performance expectations, and assessment evidence adhere to the model. Secondary questions are meta-evaluative (Fitzpatrick, Sanders, & Worthen, 2004) and focus on the validity of current assumptions that underlies the practices in terms of required prerequisites, performance expectations, and assessment practices and evidence.
Phase 2. A design of digital badges to support competency-based assessment system within the course. This design will serve as a pilot for how digital badges may be implemented to support competency-based assessment within the broader graduate research methods curriculum.