Compositionists have been experimenting with using digital badges as a way to assess student work (Reid & Paster, 2016; West-Puckett, 2016). This experimentation has followed educational research on gamification (Hanghøj, 2015; Tekinbas, Gresalfi, Peppler, Santo, & Gee, 2014) and research into how the use of digital badges affects student motivation (Yildirim, Kaban, Yildirim, & Çelik, 2016; Reid & Paster, 2016; Reid, Paster, & Abramovich, 2015; Abramovich, Schunn, & Higashi, 2013).

In my own classroom, prior to designing a system using digital badges, I used a version of contract grading (Blackston & Exton, 2014; Danielewicz & Elbow, 2009; Barlow, 1974, Newcomb & Warmbrod, 1974).

Students were often confused with contracts; they did not understand that contracts were designed to give them control over their grades. When I learned about Stephanie West-Puckett's digital badges, I thought giving my students a reward might help them see how they control their grades.


Abramovich, S., Schunn, C., & Higashi, R. M. (2013). Are badges useful in education? It depends upon the type of badge and expertise of learner. Educational Technology Research and Development, 61(2), 217–232. doi: 10.1007/s11423-013-9289-2.


Barlow, R. M. (1974). An experiment with learning contracts. The Journal of Higher Education 45(6), 441-479, doi: 10.2307/1980762.


Blackston, A., & Exton, V. N. (2014). "Space to grow": Grading contracts for basic writers. Teaching English in the Two-Year College, 41(3), 278-293. Retrieved from


Danielewicz, J., & Elbow, P. (2009). A unilateral grading

contract to improve learning and teaching. College Composition and Communication, 61(2), 244-268. Retrieved from


Hanghøj, T. (2015). The school at play: Repositioning students

through the educational use of digital games and game dynamics. Proceedings of the European Conference on Games Based Learning, 1, 227-233. Retrieved from


Newcomb, L. H., & Warmbrod, J. R. (1974). The effect of contract grading on student performance. Retrieved from


Reid, A. J., & Paster, D. (2016). A case study of digital badges

in composition courses. In L. Y. Muilenburg, & Z. L. Berge (Eds.), Digital badges in education: Trends, issue, and cases (pp. 189-202). Florence, US: Routledge. Retrieved from


Reid, A. J., Paster, D., & Abramovich, S. (2015). Digital badges

in undergraduate composition courses: effects on intrinsic motivation. Journal of Computers and Education, 2(4), 377-

398. doi: 10.1007/s40692-015-0042-1.


Tekinbas, K. S., Gresalfi, M., Peppler, K., Santo, R., & Gee, J. P. (2014). Gaming the system: Designing with Gamestar Mechanic. Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press.

West-Puckett, S. (2016). Syllabus. Retrieved from


Yildirim, S., Kaban, A., Yildirim, G., Çelik, E. (2016). The effect of digital badges specialization level of the subject on the achievement, satisfaction and motivation levels of the students. The Turkish Online Journal of Educational Technology 15(3), 169-182. Retrieved from

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