Pathways to Global Competence: A Badge System for Students


The information contained in this project appendix was gathered from the original project proposal that was funded in 2012 and interviews with project leaders through the end of 2014.  This appendix and the overall design principles database from the DPD project does not reflect further evolution of the project or developments after the final interview that took place in 2014. As of the final interview, the project had not issued badges or developed a badge system.  Based on this information, we have classified the Pathways to Global Competence badge development project as suspended (rather than partial or implemented) and coded the initiated badge development practices as intended and enacted (rather than intended, enacted, and formalized). All other practices were coded as intended (rather than enacted and/or formalized).


A Hewlett Foundation and Gates Foundation Project Mastery grantee, the non-profit organization Asia Society collaborated with ShowEvidence to develop Pathways to Global Competence. This is a proficiency-based badging system for high school students. The project aimed to engage learners in “powerful, relevant, and self-directed [ways] as they master skills and knowledge enabling them to develop their identity as a global youth leader” (HASTAC). The badging effort aimed to expand students’ cross-cultural knowledge and enhance their understanding of global issues. Specifically, Asia Society defined global competence as “the capacity and disposition to understand and act on issues of global significance” (DML Stage 1 Proposal). The project organized its badging system around the four domains of the Global Leadership Performance Outcomes and designed badges for the following categories: (1) Global Researcher, (2) Global Integrator, (3) Global Communicator, and (4) Global Contributor. Once students earn all four badges, they can then earn a meta-badge for Globally Competent Youth Leadership that represents and encompasses the skillsets developed from the badging initiative.

The project integrated the Graduation Performance System (GPS), an existing performance-based assessment program, into their digital badge platform. Asia Society designed the GPS to measure the progress of students toward gaining global competence and college readiness. Technology partner ShowEvidence developed evidence-based performance assessments and rubrics, supporting the performance assessment processes from task design to aggregation of work in portfolios. The company provided a digital platform that incorporated the GPS and gathered evidence of students’ learning that led to the issuing of badges. The badging initiative provided a way to measure and recognize youth for attaining global leadership outcomes.

Evolving Practices and Design Principles

What follows is a list of practices as they relate to the general and more specific design principles in each category of practice. The headings name a (a) General Principle, (b) Specific principle, (c) Specific practice. Below each heading, we indicate what stages this principle appeared in the project: as an (a) intended practice, (b) enacted practice, or (c) formalized continuing practice.

Design Principles for Recognizing Learning

Pathways to Global Competence awards badges to students for their progress in achieving global competence. The project aligns its badging system to the internal standards of the Global Leadership Performance Outcomes. The badging effort awards badges for the outcomes’ four domains and a meta-badge after learners earn badges in all four categories. In the badging system, experts review the badge credential before issuing it to students.

Align badges to standards > Use national or international standards and standards internal to community > Alignment to standards

Intended, not enacted, not formal

The project planned to align the badges to the national Common Core State Standards (CCSS). Initially, they aimed to align criteria that demonstrated “the ability to produce college level work and, where available, Common Core State Standards” (DML Stage 1 Proposal). In this respect, the badges are mapped to standards of an accredited institution or agency. However, this proved to be too ambitious for the initial stages of development, so the project turned their focus to their internal Global Leadership competencies.

In order to address these internal standards, the project used the Global Leadership Performance Outcomes described above to organize their assessment and badging system. This is a competency-based system, focused on learning each skill specified in the Global Leadership competencies. The project still intends to integrate the CCSS, but will pursue that at a later date.

Have experts issue badges > Credentialed via external accredited entity > Credential review by experts

Intended, enacted, not formal.

Pathways to Global Competence intended for experts to review work submitted for a badge. These experts are content providers who work with a collaborating organization or are community members well versed in the skill being addressed. The project also intended for the badges to have a “reviewed” status to show that they had passed scrutiny.

It ultimately focused on the four competencies described above. A new badges map with three types of tasks was implemented: (1) interdisciplinary, cross-curricular, extracurricular (2) subject area specific, (3) pre-existing projects/curriculum. Learners can submit pre-existing projects to earn a badge as long as it fulfills the requirements of a badge’s rubric. This enables Pathways to both recognize learners’ prior accomplishments and broaden the scope of work. As it stands, the project has yet to develop this practice in the design and implementation of its badge system.

Use badges to map learning trajectory > Level badges > Credentials are leveled

Intended,   enacted, not formal.

Pathways intended to implement a leveled badging system. In its initial development, that leveling took the shape of a meta-badge that can be earned after the four competency ot badges have been earned. This structure kept the focus on the Global Leadership competencies, maintaining the competency-based model the project values. The initiative halted development on this front with hopes to continue in the future.

Recognize educator learning distinctively > Badges for students and educators

Intended, not enacted, not formal.

Pathways to Global Competence intended to issue badges to both students and educators. The project designed the GPS to recognize student progress and teachers’ “capacity to teach for global competence” (DML Stage 1 Proposal). However, issues regarding teacher professional development hours prevented the project from pursuing this practice.

In the badge system implementation, the project plans to go forward with student badges only, as there is no funding for teacher badges. Student badges are organized in four domains of global competency, and badges are earned by students learners only.

Design Principles for Assessing Learning in Digital Badge Systems

Pathways to Global Competence designed learning activities to help youth become globally aware and competent so that they may become leaders among their peers. The badging system uses rubrics that align to the Global Leadership Outcomes and portfolios to collect performance assessments.

Use performance assessments in relevant contexts > Performance assessment for competency-based learning

Intended, enacted, not formal.

The badging initiative aimed to award badges for performance-based concrete skills. By incorporating the GPS performance-based assessment system, Pathways to Global Competence aimed to “blur the distinction between instruction and assessment by developing learning activities and resources with an embedded performance task” (DML Stage 2 Proposal). In this way, the project hopes to use badges to promote skill and competency development through participation in projects. As it exists, the project has yet to pursue this practice further.

Use leveled badge systems > Metabadges > Badges are leveled

Intended, enacted, not formal.

The project intended to implement a leveled badging system that recognized learners increased participation and accomplishments. By establishing milestones, the project could both encourage and track progress across the competencies.

Ultimately, the project did not implement a leveling system for the four competencies. They did, however, establish a meta-badge that could be earned once the four competency badges had been earned. Learners are asked to complete a paper on how they will be a global leader to earn the meta-badge.

Align assessment activities to standards: create measurable learning objectives > Internal standards and Common Core standards> Activities are aligned to internal standards

Intended, enacted, not formal (Internal standards)

Intended, not enacted, not formal (Common  Core standards)

The project intended to align their curricula to the Common Core State Standards in addition to aligning it to their internal standards. The intention was for the curricula to work across content domains. However, for the initial launch the project decided to focus on the Global Leadership Performance Outcomes. The project may return to the Common Core State Standards at a later date.

Use rubrics > Rubrics developed for assessment of specific artifacts > Rubrics are used to assess learning

Intended, enacted, not formal.

Pathways to Global Competence planned to integrate rubrics in the assessment of learning. To do so, they worked woth ShowEvidence to build specific rubrics that address each competency. At least two experts review each submission, comparing it against the rubric. If the project does integrate the Common Core into their system, the rubrics will reflect that change. Pathways to Global Competence aims to employ rubrics in a working badge system at a future time.

Enhance validity with expert judgement > Use human experts > Badges are validated by experts

Not intended, enacted, not formal.

The project intended to develop an automated system that would recommend a score to human reviewers. However, the project only implemented the human reviewing system. The project is exploring the use of peer assessment, but is not using it currently.

Use e-portfolios > Local to community > Portfolio assessment

Intended, enacted, not formal.

The project intended to collect work submitted by the learners in a digital portfolio system. These portfolios and the work submitted within them would be reviewed by experts. In this way, work is both kept in an efficient and coherent fashion, and learners can look across activities to track their progress. The badge development effort aspires to integrate e-portfolios in a running badge system at a later date.

Enhance validity with expert judgement > Give human experts badges > Badges for students and teachers

Intended, not enacted, not formal.

The project planned to design opportunities for teachers and experts to earn badges. However, this goal became cumbersome in the initial launch, and was set aside to be picked up in the future.

Design Principles for Motivating Learning

The badging system impacts motivation by designing learning activities that can translate to real-world situations, and learners produce their own projects or creative work in completing performance tasks to demonstrate their mastery of specific skills. The project allows learners to share their badges with others through social media. Additionally, it fosters a digital learning community to boost engagement, and the badge system acknowledges the roles of learners in the system, recognizing the identities of Global Researcher, Global Integrator, Global Communicator, and Global Contributor. The initiative also aimed to link formal credit to badges.

Build outside value for badges > Real-life application of knowledge > Application of knowledge

Intended,  enacted, not formal.

Pathways for Global Competence envisioned that the badging system would promote learning that had real-world applications. The project designed activities that requires learners to demonstrate multiple skills in performance assessments. The hope for the badge system is to nurture skills and foster cross-cultural knowledge & understanding, enhancing the utility of the learning experiences and impacting learners’ motivation to progress through the system.

Recognize different outcomes > Performance-based > Artifact creation

Intended, enacted, not formal.

The project intended for learners to create projects and artifacts that demonstrate their learning. These artifacts are placed in a portfolio that is then evaluated. In an interview, the project indicated that they were beginning to look at ways to align these activities to the  Common Core. Badges may help to motivate learners to create artifacts, encouraging them to creatively engage with the material.

Display badges to the public > Learners can choose to share their badges with others > Share badges with others

Intended, not enacted, not formal.

Pathways to Global Competence intended for students to show their badges to others. The project planned for learners to “be able to share their badges on social networking sites (Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn) as well as embed the link for the badge” (DML Stage 2 Proposal). The badging system still plans to enable students to display their badges through social media but has yet to continue development on this functionality.

Engage with the community > Involvement in digital community > Community involvement

Intended, enacted, not formal.

The project aimed to promote greater involvement within a digital community. It wishes to foster a community that provides feedback on the learning process and strengthens the process of developing global competence.

Recognize identities > Roles within a system > Acknowledgement of roles

Intended, enacted, not formal.

Asia Society looked to develop competency badges that focused on four domains with corresponding identities: Investigate the world, Recognize perspectives, Communicate ideas, and Take action. By recognizing the identities interwoven with the activities, badges help motivate learners by identifying the key roles they play in a community. The project plans to return to the development of these roles at another time.

Build outside value for badges > Badges as academic credit > Award formal credit with badges

Intended, not enacted, not formal.

The project intended for badges to translate into formal academic credit. In the badge system, development has yet to continue in linking badges with formal credit.

Provide Incentives > Prizes and new activities > External rewards

Intended, not enacted, not formal.

The project looked into the possibility of external rewards such as scholarships and presentations. The main reward remains to be college acceptance. In the enacted system, however, the project has not advanced with this practice.

Design Principles for Studying Learning

The badging system expressed an intention to study its badging system. The project is in the process of exploring measures and approaches to conduct research on the system; this include interview protocols with students and data collection on the interactions and evidence that surfaces from the badge system implementation.

Study badge impact > Research OF badges

Intended, not enacted, not formal.

The project is defining how they will conduct research. They intend to interview students about the badging process, and they realize that the information available from students participating in the activities and earning badges may be quite useful in their plans to conduct research in the future. Some interviews of students have already taken place regarding why students might want to earn badges. Mainly, the initiative employed focus groups and preliminary interviews to observe users’ needs and views on the badging system. The project has yet to develop their research practices.


Chowdhary, N. (2014, June 12). DPD Follow-up Interview.

Moorman, H. (2013, January 17). DPD Initial Interview.

Pathways to Global Competence. (n.d.). Pathways to Global Competence: A Badge System for

Students DML Stage 1 Proposal. Retrieved from

Pathways to Global Competence. (n.d.). Pathways to Global Competence: A Badge System for

Educators DML Stage 2 Proposal. Retrieved from

Project Q&A with: Pathways to Global Competence. (2013, July 1). HASTAC. Retrieved from


Recognizing Principles Assessing Principles Motivating Principles Studying Principles
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Digital Badges are web-enabled credentials of learning or accomplishment. -Erin Knight, director of the Badge Alliance
Badges contain detailed claims about learning, links to actual evidence of learning, and they're shareable over the web. -Dan Hickey, DPD Project Lead Investigator
To me, digital badges represent the bridge between formal learning & informal structures. -Alex Halavais, DML research competition winner
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Regardless of where you start, it’s more than likely you’ll end up somewhere other than your intended destination. That’s okay. Systems are living things, and your badge system needs to be flexible. You must embrace a bit of chaos in its design. -Carla Casilli, Director of Design + Practice at the Badge Alliance