CCT conducted a one-year,design-based study to investigate the effectiveness of the Who Built America (WBA) badge system in helping social studies teachers develop Common Core literacy-aligned lessons and activities.
As part of HASTAC’s Digital Media and Learning competition, the WBA project employed a system of digital badges to signify history teachers’ participation and achievements in an online professional development system. Our study investigated (1) the badge system’s role in supporting professional development, and (2) whether and how the work of achieving badges relates to teachers’ professional identities.
To evaluate how effectively the project achieves its objectives, and to gather evidence for the relationship between the project’s conceptual framework and changes in teachers’ practices as a result of participation, CCT investigated the following questions:
1. What role does working toward and achieving WBA badges play in the following aspects of social studies teachers’ professional development: continuing participation in the project; peer perceptions of a teacher’s professional capabilities; school and district administrators’ willingness to treat badges as professional credentials; and teachers’ interests in developing new skills?
2. In what ways do badge-related activities (including unit design, peer collaboration, and assessment by master teachers) influence the development of an online teacher professional development community of practice?
3. In what ways, if any, do middle- and high-school social studies and history teachers’ lessons and activities addressing Common Core-related literacy standards change as a result of their participation in the WBA professional development program?