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Abstract Drawing upon Bourdieu’s conceptualization of habitus, this ethnographic study explores the cultural bases guiding engineering makerspaces at a public university in the United States. Students carry forms of capital that impact their entry into these learning spaces, over time becoming disciplined in the “game” of makerspaces as they accumulate capital through everyday talk and storytelling. Communication constructs the makerspace habitus as students (1) move from outsider to insider as they acquire forms of capital; (2) negotiate a habitus characterized by tensions of access vs. exclusivity; (3) learn to use the vocabularies of innovation and creativity; and (4) cultivate supportive making communities. Findings point to the critical role of intentional communication and space design in cultivating inclusive makerspace cultures.more » « lessFree, publicly-accessible full text available October 1, 2023
Abstract University makerspaces have been touted as a possible avenue for improving student learning, engagement, retention, and creativity. As their popularity has increased worldwide, so has the amount of research investigating their establishment, management, and uses. There have, however, been very few studies that use empirical data to evaluate how these spaces are impacting the people using them. This study of three university makerspaces measures engineering design (ED) self-efficacy and how it is correlated with involvement in the makerspaces, along with student demographics. The three university makerspaces include a relatively new makerspace at a Hispanic-serving university in the southwestern US, makerspaces at an eastern liberal arts university with an engineering program that has been created within the last decade, and a makerspace at a large, research university in the southeast often considered to be one of the top programs in the US. Students at all three universities are surveyed to determine their involvement in their university's makerspace and how they perceive their own abilities in engineering design. The findings presented in this paper show a positive correlation between engineering design self-efficacy (EDSE) and involvement in academic makerspaces. Correlations are also seen between certain demographic factors and the percentage of students who choose to use the academic makerspace available to them. These findings provide crucial empirical evidence to the community on the self-efficacy of students who use makerspaces and provide support for universities to continue making these spaces available to their students.more » « less
null (Ed.)Abstract An academic makerspace, home to tools and people dedicated to facilitating and inspiring a making culture, is characterized by openness, creativity, learning, design, and community. This nontraditional learning environment has found an immense increase in popularity and investment in the last decade. Further, makerspaces have been shown to be highly gendered, privileging men's and masculine understandings of making. The spike in popularity warrants deeper analysis, examining the value of these spaces for women and if learning is occurring in these spaces, specifically at higher education institutions. We implemented a phenomenologically based interviewing process to capture the making experiences of 20 women students, recruited through purposive and snowball sampling. By eliciting the narratives of women students, we captured how making, designing, and creating evolved through gendered experiences in the university makerspace. Each interview was transcribed and resulted in around 868 pages of single-spaced text transcriptions. The data were analyzed through multiple cycles of open and axial coding for common themes and patterns, where makerspaces create a culture of learning, facilitate students’ design journey, and form a laboratory for creativity. These themes forwarded the creation of a learning model that showcases how design and learning interact in the makerspace. This work demonstrates that women students are engaging learning and inspiration; developing confidence and resilience; and learning how to work with others and collaborate.more » « less
Engineering education has observed considerable growth in academic makerspaces with initial data indicating significant potential for makerspaces to support learning.
Given gender disparities in engineering as a professional community of practice (CoP) and indications for makerspaces as sites for learning, educational researchers need to forge a better understanding of women's pathways into makerspaces, including the barriers that inhibit and the catalysts that broaden participation.
This study employed qualitative interviews with 20 women students who were identified as makers in order to gain insights into the characteristics of their pathways into university makerspaces.
Using grounded theory development, four major aspects of students' pathways emerged: (1) early forms of apprenticeship through mentors; (2) overcoming and resisting limiting gendered expectations imposed by others in early experiences in unfamiliar makerspace CoPs, resulting in failed articulations of related communities; (3) successful articulations of community grounded in making‐centered coursework and personal passions; and (4) relationships in college that expanded access, leadership, and visibility toward fuller participation in makerspace CoPs.
Educational interventions to broaden women's participation in makerspaces must be multipronged and attend to early childhood experiences, include supportive opportunities for women to participate in making in K‐12 and university curricula, expand definitions of making to legitimize the arts and crafts as part of design, and create apprenticeship opportunities for women to mentor women in makerspaces. We must change the narrative of who makers are, what making is, and who belongs in makerspaces to reduce barriers and create inclusive making communities.