Announcement of Ed.D. Dissertation Defense- Once Upon a Makerspace: Elementary Students Document the Stories of their Thinking

Friday, October 18, 2019 12:00pm - 2:00pm

GSE Room 347

My school district designed and implemented a makerspace to increase student-driven learning. Our makerspace is an evolving learning environment where students can create, innovate, and educate. Children experiment with elements of coding, engineering, digital literacy, and video production through both “plugged in” (technology-based) or “unplugged” (hands-on experiences) lessons. The makerspace is designed to be an open-ended learning environment where students work with community experts, peers, and teachers through play-based learning (Britton, 2012).
   Most of the initial proposed and completed projects were teacher-driven and not student-generated. Examples of projects included Lego engineering modules, guided coding sessions, and arts integrated digital storytelling workshops with the local community theatre. The staff established a greenhouse and garden to grow food, which the school then donated to the local food bank. Students could also design simulations of different communities with Minecraft. Education Edition. While students were motivated and engaged during these experiences, they were not yet generating projects of personal interest or designing solutions to real world problems.
   Because makerspaces are a relatively new design in public schools, some would argue they are a fad in education with little empirical research to support this student-driven learning model. Furthermore, the majority of studies conducted to date were implemented in informal learning environments like museums, community centers, or public libraries, whereas the remaining studies conducted in formal education settings were derived mainly from higher education, high school, and middle school learning environments (Vossoughi & Bevan, 2014).
   This study employed mixed methods with a design-based research methodology to develop a deeper understanding of the learning ecology in the elementary makerspace-learning environment. Building upon the emerging body of research that documents both formal and informal learning outcomes in makerspaces, contributions of this study include advancing our understanding of how making thinking visible and peer feedback support students’ design thinking, how student preferences for tools and their situational interest are leveraged to create projects and relationships, and how students articulate their design process within the context of the elementary makerspace-learning environment. Educators can reference the study’s outcomes as they design the physical space and develop curricula for the makerspace-learning environment.


Who to contact:

Cheryl Cuddihy