The idea was hatched as the university worked toward the 2011 launch of the sustainable ag major. It’s an ambitious interdisciplinary program, featuring collaboration among eight departments in the university’s College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences as well as the Agricultural Sustainability Institute.
The new curriculum is particularly hands-on, with lots of experiential learning that occurs outside the classroom, such as through internships and fieldwork. Much of that learning isn’t captured by conventional grading.
The university wanted to help students find ways to describe their experiences, in ways that make sense to faculty, students, employers and themselves. It was a vexing challenge, because any solution had to stretch across the entire curriculum – not just individual classes.
Normoyle and her colleagues settled on badges, with an undergirding of competencies that describe the learning outcomes and skills students need to successfully complete the major. (Click here for a presentation from Normoyle about the competencies and badges.)