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Making as a Learning Process: Identifying and Supporting Family Learning in Informal Settings

Brahms, Lisa (2014) Making as a Learning Process: Identifying and Supporting Family Learning in Informal Settings. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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Making is characterized by engagement in creative production at the crossroads and fringes of
disciplines such as science, technology, engineering, art, and math, and has developed into a recognized social, technological and economic movement. As a creative activity at the intersection of the physical and digital, making integrates current trends in do-it-yourself culture,
traditional craft, and emerging technologies, such as physical computing and fabrication. Making is currently being positioned as directly tied to children’s participation in science, technology, engineering and math, and to their orientation towards related workforce
pathways. There is a growing demand from educators and policymakers for definitions, measures, and guidelines of design that capture the qualities of making as a learning process. The articles that comprise this dissertation respond to this demand, mapping the practices and
perspectives of the maker community to foundational theories of the learning sciences. Theoretically, the work is based in the communities of practice framework. In adopting this approach, I am able to distinguish what making is as a learning process, through the identification of the core learning practices of the making community, and to explore how such learning can be evidenced in the context of a designed informal learning environment. First, I present a textual analysis of Make Magazine, the most popular textual source of maker community participation, wherein I identify seven core learning practices of the maker community, as well as notable attributes of featured makers, such as gender and disciplinary affiliation. Second, I extend this analysis to family participation in the designed informal learning environment of a children's museum, where I locate and trace evidence of learning through two case studies of young children’s contextualized participation in a family maker space. Findings show how young children meaningfully participate in making as a learning process by coordinating contextual resources to participate with intent and sophistication in maker community practices. I discuss key factors that influence children’s participation in
making as a learning process, as well as implications for leveraging making as a learning process for all.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Brahms, Lisaljb37@pitt.eduLJB37
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairCrowley, Kevincrowleyk@pitt.eduCROWLEYK
Committee MemberRussell, Jenniferjrussel@pitt.eduJRUSSEL
Committee MemberGreeno, Jamesjimgrno@pitt.eduJIMGRNO
Committee MemberDavidson,
Date: 22 May 2014
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 31 March 2014
Approval Date: 22 May 2014
Submission Date: 29 April 2014
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 113
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: School of Education > Learning Sciences and Policy
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: Making, Informal Learning, Museums, Families
Date Deposited: 22 May 2014 13:52
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 14:19


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