“The only defense against the world is a thorough knowledge of it.”
John Locke

This credential type allows students to demonstrate their knowledge of something. Teachers may use this badge when there is subject-domain-specific content or knowledge that a student needs to have in order to enhance their understanding of higher concepts in their learning.

There are many ways in which we define knowledge but for the purposes of this badge type, we can define it in two ways. The first is “what” knowledge, which involves knowing facts or concepts for a given topic or subject. Knowing facts or information about a topic can be considered low-level knowledge but can be important when laying the foundation for our learners. On the other hand, having knowledge of the concepts and theories of a given topic or subject can be considered high-level knowledge. These concepts and theories can be applied by students to perform a skill, to reason, to apply knowledge or to create.

The second type is “how” knowledge, in which one has procedural and metacognitive information about completing a task. Procedural knowledge is as it sounds: knowing the steps you need to take to complete an action. It can be classed as low-level knowledge. Metacognitive knowledge is a high-level knowledge. It involves the knowledge of strategies that could be used to complete a task, knowing that different tasks require different types of cognition (thought) and self-knowledge (what are my strengths/weaknesses as I face this task).


I know that when I throw a ball into the air, it comes back down to earth because gravity exists on Earth.


The theories derived by Newton about gravity (Newton’s Laws 1, 2 and 3).


To create chemical C, I need to add chemical A and chemical B together and heat over a low flame for 3 minutes.


One way to make chemical reaction C occur more quickly is to heat it on a high flame for 1 minute (strategy, applying knowledge of the role of convection energy in this chemical reaction).

I know that I measure roughly so I need to ensure I double check my chemicals before I combine them (self-knowledge)


“You can’t have luck when someone else has skills”
Amy Tan

This credential type allows students to put what they know into action. Teachers may use this badge when there is a need for students to demonstrate a particular skill. Skills are often practised over time and may need to be demonstrated more than once to show they have been moved through the stages of learning (cognitive, associative and autonomous).


A teacher may choose to reward different stages of the acquisition of a skill or develop a credential that requires a student to demonstrate they have reached the autonomous stage. This could include needing to see the skill displayed over a period of time and (if appropriate) a range of contexts.

The stages of learning were coined by Fitts and Posner, 1967 and they outline the stages that an individual moves through in order to learn a new physical skill.

The first stage is cognitive in which the learner has to consciously think about what they are doing in order to achieve it. It may mean that the physical movements that are required to demonstrate the skill are laboured and require a great deal of concentration on the individuals part.

The second stage is associative in which the individual begins to find some fluidity or consistency in their performance. Some parts of the skill will begin to come naturally and without conscious effort while other areas will still require mental control and focus.

The final stage is the autonomous stage, where the individual can consistently and accurately demonstrate the skill with little conscious thought. You could compare this to “working on auto-pilot”.


“I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect has intended us to forgo their use.”

Galileo Galilei

This badge type allows students to demonstrate their capacity to select and apply a specific reasoning pattern to solve a problem. 

Reasoning patterns can be specific to a particular task or discipline, but more commonly they are generic, and applied repeatedly across a number of contexts.

Given its importance to all human endeavour, specific attention to reasoning is sometimes conspicuously absent from the secondary school curriculum narrative. 

The students’ ability to apply a precise and well-defined reasoning pattern to the knowledge they acquire and the skills they are developing is absolutely a primary goal of their education.

This project aims to assist us to develop a common language for forms of reasoning that can be applied across disciplines, so that the function of reasoning itself is elevated in the students learning life to one of significant importance. 

In Piaget’s theory of human development, we are working with students who are largely moving from the Concrete Operational stage to the Formal Operational stage. 

Piaget: The formal operational stage

(adolescence and into adulthood, roughly ages 11 to approximately 15–20):

Intelligence is demonstrated through the logical use of symbols related to abstract concepts. This form of thought includes “assumptions that have no necessary relation to reality.” At this point, the person is capable of hypothetical and deductive reasoning. During this time, people develop the ability to think about abstract concepts.

Piaget stated that “hypothetico-deductive reasoning” becomes important during the formal operational stage. This type of thinking involves hypothetical “what-if” situations that are not always rooted in reality, i.e. counterfactual thinking. It is often required in science and mathematics.

  • Abstract thought emerges during the formal operational stage. Children tend to think very concretely and specifically in earlier stages, and begin to consider possible outcomes and consequences of actions.
  • Metacognition, the capacity for “thinking about thinking” that allows adolescents and adults to reason about their thought processes and monitor them.
  • Problem-solving is demonstrated when children use trial-and-error to solve problems. The ability to systematically solve a problem in a logical and methodical way emerges.

While children in primary school years mostly used inductive reasoning, drawing general conclusions from personal experiences and specific facts, adolescents become capable of deductive reasoning, in which they draw specific conclusions from abstract concepts using logic. This capability results from their capacity to think hypothetically.

From Wikipedia: 10 February 2019


“I must be lean & write & make worlds beside this to live in.”
Sylvia Plath

This credential type allows students to put all their learning into action, often in complex contexts and in order to generate some form of effect on the world.

While it can happen at any stage in a students’ learning, the authenticity of the ‘enact’ phase must be ensured. 


Outline of ‘act’ and its foundation in educational theory

specific concrete expansions and examples


“Love’ is the name for our pursuit of wholeness, for our desire to be complete.”


This credential type allows students to concentrate on, and develop, their values, qualities and attitudes and to be acknowledged for these as part of their core learning experience.

Sometimes a poor cousin to other aspects of students’ experience at school, the ‘disposition’ of the learner is nonetheless considered to be fundamental to their success in school and life. 


I will work with the SOAR team to build a set of descriptors here that are derived from their clear articulation of the school’s SOAR values.

This panel will contain some exemplars of SOAR in action.
The information below is intended to be used as a guide to the five types of micro-credentials (represented by digital badges) that can be assessed in this scheme.
February 10, 2019


  1. NIna

    I find this typology fascinating (and challenging). It’s interesting to see the progression from four to five categories. I guess one of the things I’m struggling with – which is to do with me rather than the typology itself – and in fact is a core component of micro-credentials, is what happens when we try to isolate tasks into types. There seems to be some sort of hierarchy or progression in four of these types. Is this intended. Then with the fifth ‘be’, which is critically important to learning – and links nicely with the NZC – can it be isolated or is it not something that should be woven across all the types? None of what I’ve written should be taken as a critique of the thinking here. It’s more me trying to think through and grapple with some very complex ideas.

    • Christopher Waugh

      Hi Nina,

      Thanks so much for adding your thoughts and input.

      I agree that the most challenging aspect of this project surrounds the idea of atomising assessment in this way. However, having put this into practice in the past (and when making reference to existing models – like Scout badges, for example), I feel it’s important to feed into the conversation the reminder that these badges are an ‘indicative sample’, not a comprehensive assessment of the entire result of learning. I think contemplating this idea of a sample allows us to free ourselves to some extent from the anxiety that we will somehow miss important realms of learning – or even more worryingly, create a system that works against the desire to reinforce the interconnectedness of learning.

      What we need to remember is that these credentials are about highlighting aspects of learning that we value highly – thereby bringing to the surface, and to the students’ attention, the core purpose of a learning experience. They aren’t intended to define the learning experience. In fact, the class curriculum should be unshackled by a system like this, because it recognises that students learn at different speeds, develop in different ways at different times and that they can show different aptitudes and capacities in different contexts.

      This “different contexts” notion underpins the whole project. If a student can show a disposition like perseverance in one setting, it is incumbent upon us to acknowledge this. But learning is made up of more than simply trying hard, just as it is made of more than acquiring knowledge. Setting up these typologies is intended to ensure that teachers are thinking about how they can stimulate (and reward) all of these different forms of learning in their classroom.

      The typologies are also intended to assist teachers to become more precise not only about what, but also how these different aspects of learning may be assessed. Some are highly context-dependent, some less so.

      It also allows for the development of teacher capacity in understanding what they mean within a type – I refer you to your very good recent report On Knowledge. By creating a typology “Know”, it becomes incumbent upon teachers to critically evaluate the assumptions they have made in the past about what are the most important things for students to learn, and how this learning is measured.

      Obviously, the more complex representations of learning – major projects, for example – can still be recognised in this system. There are options. A badge could be created in the “Act” section that defines a complex task, which might easily contain a synthesis of all the other forms of learning – or, possibly even more elegantly, badges can be clustered together to define something greater. Sometimes these might all be earned alongside each other – but there’s also the exciting possibility that they might be unlocked in different contexts, but when the pre-determined cluster is finally unlocked, another credential is automatically unlocked which helps the student to understand what this array of discrete credentials now means they’re qualified to do.

      I did my teacher education at the New Zealand Graduate School of Education, and their process was to define hundreds of discrete teacher standards and then award a diploma to candidates who could provide evidence of achieving every one of them. For some of us this was done over a shorter period of time, for some longer. It lead to our being highly self-motivated, self-reflexive and it meant we were very clear about what capacities we had to develop or demonstrate in order to be effective teachers. It was a very empowering experience and has influenced my ideas about teaching ever since.

      Let’s keep this conversation going!

      Kind regards,


    • Christopher Waugh

      Oh – and yes there is an inferred hierarchy – but we do imagine these badges will be earned asynchronously.


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