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  1. Abstract Background

    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 tomore »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.

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  2. 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.
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available October 1, 2023
  3. Explorations into students’ narratives of their pre-college making pathways inform our understanding of the nature of early making experiences prior to entry into undergraduate engineering programs. Through our student interviews, four pathways were identified based on the nature of how the activities were structured and the outcomes of the activities. Each of the two constructs identified were further differentiated into two poles identified as structured activities versus unstructured activities and specific curiosity versus diversive curiosity. Self-directed, unstructured activities are ones where individuals identified that their own independent work was performed with a great deal of autonomy in both how and what was explored. With structured activities, the individuals did not self-impose or seek out the activity, but rather, the activities were laid out by a mentor or expert. Specific curiosity is where a clear path in the form of a certain activity is started to gain a particular knowledge or skill. With curiosity of the unknown, however, an activity was undertaken for the pure exploration or interest with no identified outcome or specific knowledge gained. Using these definitions, the four pathways that emerged were structured-specific, unstructured-diversive, and unstructured-specific and structured-diversive. From the interviews collected and analyzed in this research frommore »self-identified makers, three out of the four pathways are identified: structured-specific, unstructured-diversive, and unstructured-specific. Structured-diversive is absent in our dataset. We propose that the absence of structured-unknown activities is a result of the population interviewed rather than its absence among pre-college individuals.« less
  4. For engineering students, how might three basic needs—competency, autonomy, and relatedness—promote intrinsic motivation among students? In this research paper, two studies are presented which assess satisfaction and relationship of these basic needs among students in a project-based, undergraduate-only engineering program. In study one, a quantitative study, we surveyed students (N = 162) using the Situational Motivation Scale and the Basic Need Satisfaction Scale (BNSS). The results of study one are consistent with previous research showing strong correlations between the three basic needs and intrinsic motivation. In study two, a qualitative study, we analyzed in-depth phenomenologically based interviews (N = 9 participants resulting in 756 pages of single-spaced transcripts) using the BNSS as a heuristic framework to identify instances when students express satisfaction or frustration of competency, autonomy, and relatedness. Study two illustrates when and how supportive contexts and behaviors contribute to feelings of competency, autonomy, and relatedness. These studies expand research on SDT by showing ways in which engineering students develop feelings of competency, how specific needs-supportive actions contributed to feelings of competency, and the roles of autonomy and relatedness in the development of competency.
  5. The Maker Movement has led to a boom in academic makerspace development over the past 15 years. Academic makerspaces—which are those located on community college and university campuses—enable students to engage in solving challenges that are meaningful to them, while uniting students of varied expertise levels to learn from one another. Using a typology of learning developed through in-depth phenomenologically based interviews (PBI) with 35 students, this study investigates how student learning differs at two Universities with differing amounts of making integrated into the curriculum. Big City U offers a large program with traditional engineering degrees, while Comprehensive U offers a smaller program with a single design-oriented B.S. in Engineering. Interviews were coded using a previously developed learning typology and categories of learning were compared across institutions to identify similarities and differences in experiences. Preliminary findings show students are gaining comparable content knowledge, cultural knowledge, and ingenuity, but Comprehensive U students are more self-aware and learn through relationships with others more than students at Big City U.
  6. Over the past decade, practices related to online learning have become increasingly varied and legitimated. Whether it be formal e-learning in K-12 or at colleges and universities or casual perusing of the internet, many people have found communities online to support their own endeavors. Recently, due to the Covid-19 pandemic most colleges and universities have been forced to shift partly or entirely to remote learning due to campus closures. Further, even in cases in which a campus is open, many universities have limited access to their makerspace due to social distancing and capacity requirements. In response, this Work in Progress study investigates how online making communities and resources are supporting student learning through making. Through in-depth phenomenologically-based interviews conducted both before and during the pandemic, this study offers rich insights into how students are learning from and engaging in online maker communities/resources as a central part of their development as a maker. Through qualitative data analysis, we develop a model for how students are learning online. These findings show the role digital spaces play in developing competent, inspired makers.
  7. This work in progress paper presents a study that follows four engineering capstone teams over the course of their two-year projects. Students on four different teams collected ethnographic and autoethnographic data in the form of field notes to explore how students learn across a variety of projects that vary in their scope, type, and team composition. This paper aims to explain the impacts that role rigidity and project management style have on the design process and discuss the factors that influence the types of learning occurring in capstone teams. Data suggest that project scope, role rigidity, and the level of ambiguity in the project impact the learning processes employed by different teams, and the skills that team members developed.
  8. 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 workmore »demonstrates that women students are engaging learning and inspiration; developing confidence and resilience; and learning how to work with others and collaborate.« less