Competence-based assessment and digital badging as guidance in vocational teacher education

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Sanna Brauer
University of Lapland

Pirkko Siklander
University of Oulu

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Digital pedagogy means applying new technologies to teaching and learning in online, hybrid and face-to-face learning environments. Digital open badges, a set of micro-credentials, support equal and egalitarian competence-based assessment models. Criterion-based digital badging combined with gamification promise learning solutions that have the potential to improve learning outcomes substantially. The aim of this study is to investigate how a competence-based assessment process in an open badge management system enhances learning and guides students to improved learning outcomes. The theoretical framework is focused on concepts of gamification and instructional badging.
Data were collected in 2016 from group interviews (n=6) of trained Finnish professional teachers (n=17) along with students in vocational teacher education (n=12) who earned 645 badges over one year in the Professional Development (PD) program, Learning Online.

Inductive thematic analysis revealed several significant features of competence-based assessment and badge management, which reflected the students’ individual experiences of the optimal form and frequency of assessments, feedback, guidance and advice. The preliminary results of this study emphasise the importance of open study groups and the option of joining and leaving the learning network freely. Shared expertise and shared learning experiences increase cohesion within freely formed study groups. The results of this study show the challenges and opportunities involved in badge management from the perspective of digital guidance and gamification, providing additional insight into the design and development of badge-driven learning in the future. This paper suggests that researchers should consider using a badge management application as an environment to guide badge-driven learning.

About the authors

Sanna Brauer

Ms Sanna Brauer (PhD Researcher, Senior Lecturer) works in Oulu University of Applied Sciences, School of Vocational Teacher Education. Her expertise is in competence-based teacher education and gamified learning solutions. She is a passionate developer and at home with early adopters. She has developed teaching and learning processes and online environments for several institutions and degrees. Her doctoral dissertation deals with gamified professional development program for vocational teachers, aiming to enhance learning outcomes based on digital badging. Earlier, she has co-ordinated development of vocational education and learning environments for the National Board of Education in Finland. (home page:

Pirkko Siklander

Ms Pirkko Siklander (PhD, Docent, University Researcher) works in the University of Oulu, in the LET (Learning, Education and Technology) research team. Her expertise is in technology-enhanced and collaborative learning and teaching in different age groups, and teacher education programmes. She runs international LET Master’s Degree Programme. In addition, she has developed teaching and learning processes, where playfulness and creative collaboration are employed and studied. Her doctoral dissertation deals with affordances of playful learning environment. Earlier, she worked as an Associate Professor in collaborative learning and diverse learning environments in the University of Lapland. (home page: