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Katie Davis awarded $124K grant to investigate youth digital badging systems

The grant will fund a one-year study to look at whether digital badges and badging systems successfully motivate learning in middle-school children. Katie Davis is the sole investigator on the study titled, "A Qualitative Investigation into Students' and Teachers' Experiences with Badges."

Digital badges are given as an award for an achievement or work accomplished. Common in video games and on social network sites, badges serve as a visible accomplishment and are shared with a larger online community that could include teachers and peer communities. But do they measurably increase learning outcomes and inspire students to strive for success?

“I’m excited to use this award to explore my research interest in whether and how innovative pedagogical strategies like digital badging systems engage students as active participants in their own learning and facilitate learning experiences that span and bridge youth’s various social contexts,” said Davis.

Davis, who is in her first year as assistant professor, specializes in digital youth. She has conducted research into the role of digital media in adolescent friendships and sense of identity, an important factor in psychological well-being, and serves as an Advisory Board Member for MTV's digital abuse campaign, A Thin Line.

The HASTAC Digital Media and Learning Competition, with funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, was founded in 2007 to “find and inspire the most innovative uses of new media in support of connected learning.” The organization noted in their award letter that projects were selected based on merit as well as diagnostic promise with the potential to guide their efforts in the field of digital media and learning, and policymakers and program developers more broadly.

The complete list of awardees is available at the competition website.