Teaching in a Makerspace: The Pedagogical Practices of Makerspace Instructors

Teaching in a Makerspace: The Pedagogical Practices of Makerspace Instructors

Catherine Otieno (Aims Community College, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-2914-0.ch002


This chapter provides an in-depth study of the teaching practices of instructors who primarily guide and facilitate learning in a makespace. With a close look at the pedagogical practices that govern teaching and learning in the maker classroom, this study presents instructors who modeled these frameworks. In addition to their own knowledge base and expertise, they were able to efficiently and effectively integrate multi-resources in a unique learning environment while helping learners succeed and adopt the maker mindset. Makerspaces are changing how we perceive learning and teaching. Instructors highlighted in this chapter put forth activities and learning goals that were learner centered and interesting to various learning needs. They designed and created a learning environment that safeguarded learners and allowed them to experiment with ideas and materials, creating different iterations of learning and redefining what success and failure means.
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The call for all educators to create learning environments that implement teaching strategies, which not only helps student master content, but also learn essential 21st century skills has been echoed by many (Partnership for 21st Century Learning (P21), 2019; Wagner, 2008; Washor & Mojkowski, 2013). Makerspaces are learning environments that proponents argue will help educators tackle such issues and hopefully reform education (Dougherty, 2013; Honey & Kanter 2013; Martinez & Stager 2013; Petrich, Wilkinson, & Bevan, 2013). Defined as spaces where individuals can freely make, tinker, innovate, and create, makerspaces have become a phenomenon (Dougherty, 2005). Makerspaces call for educators to foster the maker mindset among learners; the mindset that students can turn ideas into creative realities, and use the knowledge gained to be innovators (Honey & Kanter, 2013). A making and tinkering mindset, within these spaces, strives to help learners learn through making. As a rising trend, makerspaces are positively pushed in order to provide spaces that bring out and sustain the curiosity of young minds instead of stifling them by extrinsic goals and expectations as called for in many schools settings (Honey & Kanter, 2013).Makerspaces are designed to be supportive, challenging, and engage learners in meaningful activities, which in turn, rekindle their natural motivation to learn (Honey & Kanter, 2013).

Pure Instructionism is a pedagogy, which equips students with skill sets needed; however, with the evolution of learning spaces and technology integration, skills required of learners has changed. With Instructionism pedagogy, there exists two set of students: 1. Ones who succeed academically in areas they were told and who have been limited to explore and reach their full potential and 2. Those that struggle in specific academic areas. Those students may have given up due to a low self-esteem or due to others’ opinions, which may hinder their ability to reach their full potential (Martinez & Stager, 2013). Making in the makerspaces strives to remedy this and provide opportunity for growth in one’s full potential for all students. With the evolving technology, not only have opportunities for integration become imminent, making and tinkering has also become much easier.

Many studies have focused on the connection between learning and making in the makerspaces, but none have really delved into the teaching strategies within makerspaces that makes them so successful. The purpose of this qualitative case study was to examine the pedagogical practices of makerspace instructors in both formal and informal makerspaces.

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