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  1. 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,more »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 university-based 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.« less
  2. null (Ed.)
    In the last decade, postsecondary institutions have seen a notable increase in makerspaces on their campuses and the integration of these spaces into engineering programs. Yet research into the efficacy of university-based makerspaces is sparse. We contribute to this nascent body of research in reporting on findings from a phenomenological study on the perceptions of faculty, staff, and students concerning six university-based makerspaces in the United States. We discuss the findings using a framework of heterogeneous engineering (integration of the social and technical aspects of engineering practice). Various physical, climate, and programmatic features of makerspaces were read as affordances formore »students’ development of engineering practices and their continued participation and persistence in engineering. We discuss the potential of makerspaces in helping students develop knowledge, skills, and proclivities that may support their attending to especially wicked societal problems, such as issues of sustainability. We offer implications for makerspace administrators, engineering program leaders, faculty, and staff, as well as those developing and delivering professional development for faculty and staff, to better incorporate makerspaces into the university engineering curriculum.« less
  3. Makerspaces are a growing trend in engineering and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) education at both the university and K-12 levels. These spaces which, in theory, are characterized by a community of likeminded individuals interested in digital fabrication and innovative design, are argued to provide opportunities to foster the skills sets critical to the next generation of engineers and scientists. However, spaces for making are not new to the engineering curriculum as many engineering programs have well-established machine shops orbproject labs that students utilize to complete course projects. In this work-in-progress exploratory study, the authors evaluated early undergraduate students’more »perceptions of two contrasting spaces, a contemporary makerspace and a traditional engineering shop. As part of an Introduction to Engineering course, students were asked to visit the two campus spaces, identify important equipment and policies they noticed in each space, and describe their perception of how the spaces were similar or different. Based on our initial findings, we speculate that access and safety issues in engineering shops may limit their use by early year engineering undergraduates. Alternatively, digital fabrication technologies and community culture in makerspaces can provide access to a hands-on prototyping and collaborative learning environment for early year engineering students.« less
  4. As the popularity of makerspaces in higher education continues to grow, we seek to understand how students perceive these spaces as tools to prepare them for future engineering careers. Introduced in engineering education in early 2000’s, makerspaces have the potential to foster development of 21st century and technical skills through hands-on constructionist learning. The core tenants of the maker mindset include: Growth Through Failure, Collaborative Learning, Creativity and Innovation, and Student Agency
  5. Makerspaces have become a rather common structure within engineering education programs. The spaces are used in a wide range of configurations but are typically intended to facilitate student collaboration, communication, creativity, and critical thinking, essentially giving students the opportunity to learn 21st century skills and develop deeper understanding of the processes of engineering. Makerspace structure, layout, and use has been fairly well researched, yet the impact of makerspaces on student learning is understudied, somewhat per a lack of tools to measure student learning in these spaces. We developed a survey tool to assess undergraduate engineering students’ perceptions and learning inmore »makerspaces, considering levels of students’ motivation, professional identity, engineering knowledge, and belongingness in the context of makerspaces. Our survey consists of multiple positively-phrased (supporting a condition) and some negatively-phrased (refuting a condition) survey items correlated to each of our four constructs. Our final survey contained 60 selected response items including demographic data. We vetted the instrument with an advisory panel for an additional level of validation and piloted the survey with undergraduate engineering students at two universities collecting completed responses from 196 participants. Our reliability analysis and additional statistical calculations revealed our tool was statistically sound and was effectively gathering the data we designed the instrument to measure.« less
  6. Introduction The increasing demands for a 21st century postsecondary education-- that incorporates the liberal arts, humanities, and social sciences--in contrast to the stasis of engineering curriculum, has catalyzed an engineering education “identity crisis” [1]-[9]. Without an understanding of the engineering norms, practices, and worldviews that engineering students and instructors carry from their courses, there is an increased risk that underrepresentation in engineering will continue to persist. This work aims to expand a previously developed study on engineering professional identity by exploring two unique engineering courses (serving as case studies) at a college of engineering at a western institution in themore »U.S. One course focused on helping engineering students develop technical communication skills while the other course aimed to help underrepresented women in engineering to understand about and plan for careers in engineering. Both cases are uniquely positioned to help engineering education researchers elucidate how professionally-focused and career-planning engineering courses could guide students’ perceptions about engineering.« less