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Bridging the In-and-Out of School Divide: Lessons for Supporting Learning in Educational Makerspaces

Bonnette, Rachel (2020) Bridging the In-and-Out of School Divide: Lessons for Supporting Learning in Educational Makerspaces. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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Makerspaces and the practice known as “making” (creating physical and digital projects
through often interdisciplinary, hands-on practices) have sparked interest in the world of
educational policy, research, and practice as an opportunity for improving youths’ motivation to
engage with: science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), social-emotional
learning, creativity, equitable learning, and more. The full extent of making’s potential as an
education practice is not yet known but continues to be explored both in and out of schools.
Through three successive studies, I explore the learning taking place in both in-and-out of school
environments and discuss the lessons learned in both settings for understanding and improving
educational maker practice across contexts. The first study consists of a gap analysis of prior
research literature related to educational making for youth across contexts to inform measurement
of learning in schools and research. I identified the gaps between what learning has been measured
in research, by what means, for which populations, and categorized learning outcomes based on
practices the literature has indicated are critical to the making process. This sparked the need for a
deep investigation into relatively unexplored practices that support learning to make and learning
through making. The second study expanded upon learning outcomes identified in the gap analysis
in an out-of-school setting, a makerspace based on a grant for STEM making in a transitional
housing facility for young adults who have left foster care without the support of family, college,
and often employment. Through legitimate peripheral participation with a local maker community
of practice, the makerspace supported the creative, entrepreneurial, and even therapeutic needs of
the youths. The third study captures learning outcomes in a school makerspace. Students in a high
school physics class worked as a team to compete locally in a drone-designing challenge and
developed documentation practices to share ideas, learn from their mistakes, and get feedback.
Taken together, these studies suggest that like youth, practices transform as they inhabit new
contexts; a learning practice used in schools offers different affordances to the same practice out
of schools. To measure and support learning in educational makerspaces or other learning contexts,
one must understand both the educational practice and the larger organizational and cultural
context that shapes it.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Bonnette, Rachelrnb19@pitt.edurnb190000-0001-5498-244X
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairCrowley, Kevincrowleyk@pitt.educrowleyk0000-0002-6798-9189
Committee MemberAkiva, Thomastomakiva@pitt.edutomakiva0000-0003-1872-0316
Committee MemberWardrip, Peterwardrip@wisc.edu0000-0003-1250-978X
Committee MemberGunzenhauser, Michaelmgunzen@pitt.edumgunzen0000-0003-1189-046X
Date: 2 September 2020
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 26 May 2020
Approval Date: 2 September 2020
Submission Date: 7 August 2020
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 193
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: makerspace, making, education, learning, community, interdisciplinary, equity, k-12, OST, informal, documentation, emerging adulthood, assessment
Date Deposited: 02 Sep 2020 14:41
Last Modified: 02 Sep 2020 14:41


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