Accolades are awards for outstanding contributions. When a student receives an Accolade for a Post or Comment, they receive a point bonus (depending on your point settings and on the student's proximity to the weekly max). While Accolades can help drive engagement and "gamify" the Community, Accolades must be used judiciously to have positive academic and social impacts. Accolades should not be used in the following ways:
- To assign a "grade" to every single Post and Comment.
- To indicate that a Post or Comment satisfies a minimal academic standard.
- To reward users for vaguely defined "good work".
On the contrary, we strongly recommend that instructors use Accolades as follows:
- To recognize and reward truly outstanding contributions. When everyone gets a trophy, trophies lose their meaning. The same goes for Accolades. As a general rule, you should give Accolades to no more than 10% of Posts and Comments. To motivate behavior, Accolades should be experienced as intermittent rewards. They should be attainable but rare.
- To reward specific contributions to the Community. Accolades aren't just shorthand for "good job". And they aren't primarily designed to highlight the cleverest Posts or single out the smartest students. Rather, Accolades should reward contributions that help the Community in specific and diverse ways. Some contributions illuminate a problem or solution; some contributions get others talking; and some contributions help others achieve insights or experience "eureka moments". The best contributions are often the most Socratic; they help others "see the light" for themselves.
In keeping with the prescriptions above, we recommend that, unless they plan on creating custom Accolades, instructors should retain and use our three default Accolades:
- "This is illuminating..." (25 points) for contributions that express special insight into a problem or solution.
- "You sparked our interest!" (50 points) for contributions that get other learners talking.
- "You're a trailblazer!" (75 points) for contributions that get other learners talking and help them achieve insights for themselves.
The point assignments are intentional. Our Accolade system is designed to reward learners who simultaneously teach their peers. We're in the business of intellectual generosity.
Why? When used correctly, Accolades are a powerful motivational tool. They incentivize high-quality content, make learners feel appreciated, and set good examples for other learners to follow. But just as grades cease to motivate when everyone gets an "A", so Accolades cease to motivate when everyone gets Accolades for every Post they write. And just as grading criteria should be clear to students, Accolade criteria should be clear to learners. We strongly encourage you to reward learners for promoting specific kinds of conversational goods and to reserve Accolades for exemplary contributions.