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University-based makerspaces are receiving increasing attention as promising innovations that may contribute to the development of future engineers. Using a theory of social boundary spaces, we investigated whether the diverse experiences offered at university-based makerspaces may contribute to students’ learning and development of various “soft” or “21st century” skills that go beyond engineering-specific content knowledge. Through interviews with undergraduate student users at two university-based makerspaces in the United States we identified seven different types of boundary spaces (where multiple communities, and the individuals and activities affiliated with those communities, come together). We identified students engaging in the processes of identification, reflection, and coordination, which allowed them to make sense of, and navigate, the various boundary spaces they encountered in the makerspaces. These processes provided students with opportunities to engage with, and learn from, individuals and practices affiliated with various communities and disciplines. These opportunities can lead to students’ development of necessary skills to creatively and collaboratively address interdisciplinary socio-scientific problems. We suggest that universitybased makerspaces can offer important developmental experiences for a diverse body of students that may be challenging for a single university department, program, or course to offer. Based on these findings, we recommend university programs and faculty intentionally integrate makerspace activities into undergraduate curricula to support students’ development of skills, knowledge, and practices relevant for engineering as well as 21st century skills more broadly.more » « less
Building upon our two years of research on the use of makerspaces in undergraduate engineering programs, we engaged in a large-scale data collection from students enrolled in undergraduate engineering preparation programs with affiliated makerspaces established for a minimum of three years. Using web searches, and other sources of information (e.g. references from other researchers or faculty members), we have identified 28 institutions that met our criteria. Working with a third party, we gathered over 574 responses from undergraduate engineering students with makerspace experiences spread across the 28 institutions. To gather our data, we created and validated an online survey with a combination of quantitative and qualitative items. We constructed a survey with subscales aligned with motivation to learn, growth mindset, learning goal orientation, knowledge of engineering as a profession, and belongingness and inclusion, as associated with work within makerspaces. We found significant positive correlations among the variables, positive levels of motivation, growth mindset, knowledge of engineering as a profession, and belongingness. We found differences in levels for gender, engineering majors, and student class standing. We discuss the implications for our findings in the context of undergraduate engineering student learning in makerspaces.more » « less