CREATE releases report on Digital Badges and Learning

February 13th, 2015

Good badges, Evil badges?
An Empirical Inquiry into the Impact of Digital Badge Design
on Goal Orientation and Learning

Melissa L. Biles, Jan L. Plass
New York University

Bruce D. Homer
The Graduate Center, CUNY

download full-text PDF: HASTAC Report Badges and Learning CREATE

There has been a lively debate recently among members of the badges community about the impact of badges on people’s motivation. Some are concerned that badges might stifle students’ intrinsic motivation and cause them to be more focused on winning new badges than on the work they are doing. Others support the use of badges, considering them superior to grades for evaluating student performance (OpenBadges, 2012).  Yet whatever the differences, there seems to be agreement that the way badges are designed, and how they are interpreted by the learner, will ultimately determine the effects they will have on users.

We collected evidence to inform the discourse on the purpose and function of badges, and to develop theory-based, empirically validated design patterns that will support badge designers and issuers in their design decisions.  Our research agenda was composed of three main areas:

(A) When designing badge systems, game designers make conscious decisions about which types of accomplishments or skills to recognize via badges. These choices can affect how players perceive the function of those badges, relative to the game structure and their own personal goal orientation and other internal characteristics. In the present study, we were therefore interested in how game designers and game players perceived badges. For game designers, we are interested in what functions they attributed to incentive systems and badges, and what considerations they follow in the design of these systems. For game players, we are interested in the value they place in badges and how their player style interacted with badges in a games-for-learning context.

(B) Develop a Badges Impact Survey (BIS) based on the results from Part 1 and a theoretical framework of situated learning, situational interest, and achievement motivation. This scale measures the effects of badges on goal orientation and perceived learning.

(C) Conduct experimental studies on the effects of badges on goal orientation and learning outcomes by modifying a geometry game to issue badges with specific designs and measuring their impact on these variables.


CREATE Job Opening: Unity3D Programmer

February 13th, 2015

Job posting – Unity3D Programmer

NYU’s Consortium for Research and Evaluation of Advanced Technology in Education (CREATE), housed in Steinhardt’s School of Culture, Education & Human Development and directed by Jan L. Plass, is seeking a highly motivated part-time programmer, effective immediately. This position may become full-time, pending funding.

The programmer will join our existing development team and focus primarily on writing code for educational games and simulations using the Unity3D game engine. Our current exciting research projects involve the development of inovative interactive simulations and games in areas such as introductory undergraduate statistics, high school chemistry, and middle school math. We are continually expanding our portfolio of research-based educational games and simulations, which can be viewed at our web site (

This position is an excellent opportunity for talented game developers who wish to augment their existing programming and game development skills with experience in educational media and/or research-based approaches to game design and playtesting.

Primary responsibilities for the position include:

  • Write client-side code to create easy to use simulations and games in Unity3D

  • Collaborate with designers to create innovative educational simulations and games (including game mechanics, graphic design, and technical features)

  • Develop prototypes quickly to validate designs

  • Build the libraries and frameworks that allow for rapid development of new simulations and games

  • Aide in playtesting and other research related to developed games and tools

Qualifications for the position include:

  • Experience with Unity3D (Unity Editor, Unity UI, MonoDevelop)

  • Experience programming in C# and/or Javascript

  • Additional experience in HTML5, WebGL, or graphic design is a plus

  • Strong interest in digital media / simulations & games for learning

  • Strong ability to communicate ideas with our interdisciplinary team

  • Commitment to excellence in working in our highly functioning research team

Please send resume, cover letter, and any links to existing samples of work to Matthew Lucas:  

New York University is an affirmative action/equal opportunity employer.

CREATE releases white paper on Playful Learning

January 16th, 2015

Playful Learning: An Integrated Design Framework

Jan L. Plass, New York University
Bruce D. Homer, The Graduate Center of the City University of New York
Charles K. Kinzer, Teachers College, Columbia University

The design of, and research on, digital games for learning has been hampered by the lack of a comprehensive design framework of game-based learning that incorporates essential elements unique to learning from this genre. Broadening the scope to playful learning, we therefore propose an integrated approach to the design of these learning environments that brings together cognitive, affective, and socio-cultural perspectives to form a comprehensive learning sciences perspective. We first define playful learning and its characteristics as well as the different forms of learner engagement it entails. We then discuss each of the three perspectives, which aspects of playful learning they emphasize, and which they de-emphasize. We then describe key theoretical contributions to the design of playful learning from the three approaches. Finally, we draw conclusions from the emerging model, including suggestions for future research on the design of games for learning.

Download full-text PDF: G4LI White Paper 02-2014 Playful Learning

CREATE partnering with CEREGO on Gates Grant to develop next gen digital courseware

September 30th, 2014

The Gates Foundation announced on Monday, September 29, 2014 the finalists for their post secondary education courseware challenge. CREATE, in partnership with CEREGO (, is one of the grant recipients.

Debuting in May 2014, The Next Generation Courseware Challenge’s mission is to rally the world’s most talented online learning teams to create “exemplary” online courseware that surpasses what is currently available to the market. The courses are then intended to meaningfully improve student learning outcomes and influence the trajectory of a student’s higher education experience by tailoring the learning experience using best-in-breed adaptive learning software, publisher content and online learning platforms. More…