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  1. The creation of student-centered spaces for making and prototyping continues to be a growing trend in higher education. These spaces are especially relevant in engineering education as they provide opportunities for engineering students to engage in authentic and collaborative problemsolving activities that can develop students’ 21st-century skills [1–3]. Principles of constructionist learning theory, which promote knowledge creation through development of a physical product [4,5], may be applied to support learning within these spaces. Beyond the construction of objects, this learning theory emphasizes a learning culture where teachers serve as guides to collaborative and student-driven learning [6]. This research seeks tomore »understand how constructionism's learning principles are integrated into an engineering prototyping center (EPC) at a large western university. Further, we explore how these principles may support engineering student development within these spaces and identify a qualitative coding scheme for future research. Thematic analysis of semi-structured interviews with faculty, staff, and students involved with the EPC suggests that the construction of physical prototypes within this space allows for the translation of abstract concepts to concrete experiences and the development of iterative design skills. Further, the data suggests that staff play an essential role in creating a learning culture aligned with constructionist learning principles. This culture supports staff in guiding student learning, fostering a collaborative environment, and promoting students’ lifelong learning skills. Data collected within this exploratory study suggest that constructionism's learning principles can play a central role in supporting the development of engineering students in an EPC.« less
  2. We detail an exploratory study of faculty members’ perceptions of activities associated with undergraduate engineering programs in university-based makerspaces. Our study examines the affordances and constraints faculty perceive regarding teaching and learning in these spaces and, specifically, how makerspaces support engineering faculty members in accomplishing the goals and expectations they have for undergraduate students’ learning and development. We found that makerspaces inspired faculty members’ curricular and instructional innovations, including design of new courses and implementation of practices meant to result in more team-based and active learning. Faculty perceived student activities in makerspaces as fostering of student agency and development ofmore »engineering skills, knowledge, and affect. Faculty also identified concerns related to the teaching of engineering in these spaces, including the need to change their instructional practices to more fully engage students and to balance the sophisticated tools and resources with the rigor of completing complex engineering tasks. We use structuration theory to illuminate how faculty act, rationalize, and reflect on their teaching practices and goals in relation to structures present in university-based makerspace. Our study is intended to inform faculty and administrators working to engage students through interactions in makerspaces or similar innovations, and to consider how access to and impact of these structures support undergraduate engineering education.« less
  3. One of the pivotal goals in engineering education is to broaden participation of different minorities. An overlooked barrier yet to be explored is how hidden curriculum and its connected constructs may impede this goal. Hidden curriculum (HC) refers to the unwritten, unofficial, and often unintended assumptions, lessons, values, beliefs, attitudes, and perspectives in engineering. This paper will present the development and assessment of a mixed-method vignette survey instrument to evaluate the responses of current engineering students and faculty when exposed to several examples of hidden curriculum. Results from 153 engineering students and faculty across the United States and Puerto Ricomore »were used to assess the survey sub-subscales (HC awareness, emotions, self-efficacy, and self-advocacy). Findings revealed Cronbach alpha coefficients of 0.70 (HC awareness), 0.73 (emotions), 0.91 (self-efficacy), and 0.91 (self-advocacy). The overall instrument had a reliability of 0.74. Alongside HC awareness, we found that among different axes of inequity, gender, role, and institution type are important elements that shaped the responses of these engineering populations.« less
  4. 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 withmore »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.« less