Thinking Beyond a Transcript with Buckeye Badges

A college transcript is not the only indicator of how well a student grasped concepts in the classroom, especially those with real-world implications. Dr. Tim Rhodus, a professor in the Department of Horticulture and Crop Science, created Buckeye Badges to address this gap between what students truly learn and what their transcript reflects.

Examples of Buckeye Badges
A view of the sample badges awarded through Buckeye Badges program.

Buckeye Badges is an incentive-based program where students earn certifications after completing departmental competencies and outcomes. The badging process is a teaching tool that allows students to track and share their progress with other students, faculty and potential employers.

Rhodus first tried this concept with his ePortfolio course and “looked at badging as a way to focus topics students wrote about. I didn’t want them straying away from academic accomplishments during their college years.”

Along with department colleagues Ernest Witney and Elaine Eberlin, Rhodus created and launched the Buckeye Badges program in October 2015, with support from the Office of Undergraduate Education and the Office of Distance Education and eLearning. Funding was provided by the Zirkle Endowment for Undergraduate Instruction for Innovation.

Badges can be earned in different ways, like participating in and engaging with the Buckeyes Badges pilot program, or through instructor assessment. When a student earns an 80 percent or higher on an assignment, they receive a badge that can be downloaded as a file or kept in their digital backpack.

By mid-October, 100 badges had been awarded and by the end of the autumn semester, more than 600 course badges were awarded. By the end of the program’s first year, 884 course badges were issued, along with 695 research badges for Denman Undergraduate Research Forum presenters and awardees.

“Students complete assignments and courses on their way to earning a degree. Hopefully, earning badges along the way will provide a more detailed view of the specific skills students are developing while in college that can be shared with potential employers.”

Throughout the summer, Rhodus helped other departments, like Chemistry, Psychology, University Center for the Advancement of Teaching (UCAT), and the Fisher College of Business develop their own badging system. Moving forward, Rhodus is looking to expand Buckeye Badges but he and his team are exploring ways to fund the program.

“I’ve developed proposals, and now we’re waiting to see what will happen,” Rhodus said. “The funding would keep my team together, make more badge enhancements, and allow us to interact with partners for free." 

Watch College Ready Ohio’s interview with Rhodus to learn more about the badging process and the impact it has in the classroom.

To learn more about the pilot program, visit the Buckeye Badges website, or contact Tim Rhodus with questions.