Digital Badges for Motivating Introductory Programmers: Qualitative Findings from Focus Groups

Lisa Facey-Shaw, Marcus Specht, Jeanette Bartley-Bryan

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceedings/Edited volumeConference contributionScientificpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


This Research Full Paper presents the qualitative findings from a study that implemented digital badges in a university-level programming course. Motivation has been shown to play a key role in programming performance. Increasingly, gamification is being used to facilitate student learning of concepts and skills in programming. Our study examined the impact of digital badges on the intrinsic motivation levels of introductory programmers and the badge design features leading to motivational effects. We collected data over two academic sessions in 2015 using a badge system design implemented in the Moodle learning management platform. This paper focuses on the qualitative findings from three focus group sessions and personal interviews which explored student understanding of their badge experiences. Focus group results indicated that badges were positively received and motivating. Student recommendations included physical badges to highlight achievements, and competitive badges for added motivation. The results suggest that students' social interactions play a role in how badges are perceived. This study should be of interest to badge designers and educational stakeholders using or contemplating badge systems. In particular, it may be of significance to stakeholders involved in computing education as it seeks to contribute to ongoing research efforts in the introductory programming domain.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationFrontiers in Education
Subtitle of host publicationFostering Innovation Through Diversity, FIE 2018 - Conference Proceedings
PublisherInstitute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE)
ISBN (Electronic)9781538611739
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jul 2018
Externally publishedYes
Event48th Frontiers in Education Conference, FIE 2018 - San Jose, United States
Duration: 3 Oct 20186 Oct 2018

Publication series

NameProceedings - Frontiers in Education Conference, FIE
ISSN (Print)1539-4565


Conference48th Frontiers in Education Conference, FIE 2018
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CitySan Jose


  • Badge design
  • Digital badges
  • Introductory programming
  • Motivation
  • Qualitative


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