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Leading a Culture of Making: Investigating Leadership Capacities That Impact Learning Agency by Design Project, Pittsburgh

Sprinker, Carol (2019) Leading a Culture of Making: Investigating Leadership Capacities That Impact Learning Agency by Design Project, Pittsburgh. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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The organic nature of maker-centered learning has built a strong base of artists, teachers, and makers at the foundation, and top-level funding and governmental supports at the top, resulting in local administration lost in the middle. This problem space prompts the question, How do school principals and program directors identify and advocate for implementing maker-centered learning opportunities that enact curriculum, affect student achievement, and increase collaboration equally among all learners? As teachers struggle to identify the instructional strategies and maker techniques required to impact student achievement, school principals are presented with unique adaptive and technical challenges to lead a culture of making.
This study identifies the specific leadership capacities that shift, support, and grow a culture of maker-centered learning. Working together with the members of Pittsburgh’s Agency by Design (AbD) Learning Community, I surveyed AbD members to determine who, how, and the extent to which educators are supported in enacting maker-centered learning in their places of practice. Through an online survey, participants identified the person (or persons) who most supports their practice as well as the types of supports that are most valued. Participants considered supports such as: general leadership, financial support, curricular support, networking, professional development opportunities, collaboration with colleagues, and time for implementation and ranked them according to needs.
The results of the study reveal that leadership supports are important for educators to enact maker-centered learning practices. Results also indicate that leading a culture of making is a complex endeavor that requires both operational (scheduling, budget, curriculum) and empowering supports (advocacy, trust, shared leadership opportunities) for educators. An unexpected finding in the research revealed that participants were overwhelmingly appreciative of administrative supports. The subtle nuances associated with administrative cooperation, encouragement, and trust motivate educators to enact maker-centered learning in formal and informal learning spaces across the Pittsburgh region. It is this collective understanding that supports spaces for creativity, innovation, thinking, and learning. It is also a place where, with supportive leadership, a culture of making can emerge.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Sprinker, CarolCES129@pitt.eduCES1290000-0001-5006-7463
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairLongo, R.
Committee MemberWardrip,
Committee MemberCrowley,
Date: 30 July 2019
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 20 March 2019
Approval Date: 30 July 2019
Submission Date: 19 June 2019
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 122
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: School of Education > Administrative and Policy Studies
Degree: EdD - Doctor of Education
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: Maker-Centered Learning, Leadership Supports
Date Deposited: 30 Jul 2019 14:49
Last Modified: 30 Jul 2019 14:49


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