Becoming Makers: A Designed-Based Research Study Investigating Curriculum Implementation Through Making

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Educational researchers suggest there is great potential in the implementation of makerspaces as learning environments in formal school settings (Halverson & Sheridan, 2014; Hira & Hines, 2018; Martin, 2015; Wardrip & Brahms, 2016) My manuscript-based dissertation explores if and how making for learning might be enacted for a teacher and her class within the context of three separate curriculum topics. Each manuscript explores the research data from a different perspective, both pragmatically and theoretically: 1) comparing the figured worlds of makerspace and classroom as learning environment; 2) participants developing ontologically through the exploration of making in the context of STEM curriculum; and 3) participants growing as designers through making. Critical to this work was the selection of participatory design-based research as methodology, underpinned by the theories of constructionism and communities of practice. Through three cycles of making, I sought to answer the following research questions: How can teachers be supported in the development of teacher knowledge, pedagogy, and practice within an elementary school makerspace environment? and How can teachers support the development of students’ conceptual understanding of disciplinary topics in an elementary school makerspace? My goal was to explore how teachers working within classrooms as complex systems and the constraints and opportunities of curriculum topics might adopt making practices to further learning possibilities for their students. Three design principles emerged from the work, those being, 1) teachers, when designing for student learning in makerspaces, must consider that inherent in design iterations are opportunities for sensemaking as well as consequential displays of knowledge; 2) teachers must experience and share with students their own experiences of learning through failure; and 3) students must be provided opportunities from start to finish to do the work of professionals. This study focused on one teacher and her class over a year. It is recommended that future research might explore how elementary teachers in multiple school settings and from multiple backgrounds take up making as a way for their students and themselves to learn.
makerspaces, maker, design-based research, figured worlds, teacher as designer, curriculum
Becker, S. L. (2019). Becoming Makers: A Designed-Based Research Study Investigating Curriculum Implementation Through Making (Doctoral thesis, University of Calgary, Calgary, Canada). Retrieved from