Learning in the Making: Studying and Designing Makerspaces

Makerspaces are emerging, informal sites for creative production in art, science, and engineering where people of all ages blend digital and physical technologies to explore ideas, learn technical skills, and create new products. This proposed study will take an ethnographic and design-based approach in order to understand how and what people learn from their participation in makerspaces, and also to explore how features of these environments can be leveraged to create designed learning experiences. To this end, the researchers conduct ethnographic case studies of makerspaces that have been identified as rich learning sites to understand the learning arrangements and processes that emerge in these spaces and investigate how technologies are learned and used.

Through collaboration with one of these sites, the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh’s MAKESHOP, the researchers will design a series of learning experiences that will build on MAKESHOP’s activities. To accomplish this, the researchers will draw on findings from the Makerspace case studies, informed by insights from theoretical frameworks developed in the co-PIs prior work studying learning and teaching in studio environments, and applying learning theories to understand and assess learning trajectories in creative production. The goal is to leverage the strengths of the makerspaces themselves in order to enhance what is known about effective studio teaching and learning, and to understand how to support youth to become competent, creative, and reflective producers with technologies.


Erica Halverson




Completed on February 28, 2017