Andriessen & Baker (2014) state that collaborative argumentation is, “A form of collaborative discussion in which both parties are working together to resolve an issue, and in which both scientists aim to reach agreement. Engagement in collaborative argumentation can help students to learn to think critically and independently about important issues and contested values” (p. 439). A makerspace context could allow for collaborative argumentation skills to be practised with the appropriate preparation and scaffolding. Would this lead to application of argumentation skills in other contexts?
Pellegrino (2014) says, “Learning sciences researchers need high-quality evidence that allows us to ask and answer critical questions about the outcomes of learning and instruction – what students know and are able to do” (p. 248). Something that has come up in my makerspace work often is how do we authentically and richly assess the work that happens there?
In citing Roschelle, (1992), Miyake & Kirschner (2014) state, “Collaboration is defined as the process of building and maintaining a shared conception of a problem or task, distributing responsibility across members of the group, sharing expertise, and mutually constructing and negotiating cognition.” For most children, this seems to happen quite naturally when making. Have there been scaffolds developed for those who find this challenging?
Community of Practice
People who participate in sustained practices in a shared domain of interest are said to participate in a community of practice. Not only do they share information and help each other, they develop a shared collection of experiences, tools, and resources (Wenger, 2011). The community of practice framework has been used often in research conducted in makerspaces.
Conceptual Change Research
Conceptual change, a central area of the learning sciences, is predicated on the fact that when learners undergo conceptual change, they are able to learn important scientific concepts. Research helps us to understand how conceptual change happens (DiSessa, 2014). One of the differences between makerspaces and traditional “shop” classes, is that in making, all students develop conceptual understanding, whereas traditionally students with learning difficulties were relegated to the shop, because it was felt they did not have the capacity for deep conceptual understanding.
“Constructionism posits that the experience and process of building something physical or digital provides a rich context for developing and representing understanding” (Vossoughi & Bevan, 2014, p. 8).
“Constructivism posits that learning involves the active creation of mental structures, rather than passive internalization of information acquired from others or from the environment” (Nathan & Sawyer, 2014, p. 24). I have always connected constructivism to the root word construct, in that learners actively construct their own knowledge based on their experiences.
“Design research in education is directed at developing, testing, implementing, and diffusing innovative practices to move the socially constructed forms of teaching and learning from malfunction to function or from function to excellence (Kelly, 2003). For me, DBR improves the disconnect between classroom practice and academic research. I like that design researchers are interested in promoting change.
Design thinking, linked to design as a profession, is a process that begins with understanding, observing and synthesizing a problem, followed by ideating, prototyping, and testing solutions through multiple iterations (Scheer, Noweski, & Meinel, (2012). Design thinking is good for both students and teachers to practice.
Documentation is the systematic notation of authentic forms of educational evidence by teachers and children to make thinking visible, and inform teaching and learning practices. Will technologies be developed that allow for powerful forms of documentation?
Engagement refers to socioemotional and cognitive aspects of learning where learners are actively involved with content in order to increase their knowledge of it (Jarvela & Renninger, 2014).
Formal Learning Environments
“Social institutions designed to gather and disseminate insights through enrolling and teaching a body of students” (Davis, Sumara, Luce-Kepler, 2015, p. 13). It is interesting that this quote does not mention the word learn.
Habits of Mind
“A habit of mind means having a disposition toward behaving intelligently when confronted with problems” (Costa, A., n.d.). Some habits of mind include persisting, managing impulsivity, listening to others – with understanding and empathy, and thinking flexibly and seem to happen naturally in a makerspace.
“The act of adapting an existing object, code, or activity to fit one’s needs” (Barniskis, 2014, p. 9). It would be interesting to have students hack an object, and then link that to technological hacking.
“In general, one’s identities are composed of the self-views that emerge from the reflexive activity of self-categorization or identification in terms of membership in particular groups or roles” (Stets & Burke, 2000, pp. 225-226). Researchers seem interested in how identities form in makerspaces.
Informal Learning Environments
“Settings that have less structured curriculum and teaching, but are still learning-focused, such as museums, playgrounds, and zoos” (Davis, Sumara, Luce-Kepler, 2015, p. 14).
Learning Dimensions Framework
This framework was the result of a study which involved joint negotiation between researchers and practitioners at the Tinkering Studio in the Exploratorium, San Francisco. The current iteration includes four dimensions: 1. engagement, 2. initiative and intentionality, 3. social scaffolding, 4. development of understanding (Bevan, Gutwill, Petrich, Wilkinson, 2015). The study also produced a Tinkering Learning Dimensions Video Library, which can be found on the Tinkering Studio’s website. This framework is one to consider when developing makerspaces in formal educational settings.
Learning in Activity
Learning scientists study learning within a classroom, community or other higher level systems, where the focus is on “how people learn by engaging in activities in these systems, such as solving a problem or making or designing something” (Greeno & Engestrom, 2014, p. 128).
Lines of Practice Theory
“A line of practice is a distinctive, recurrent pattern of long-term engagement in a person’s practice participation. Any line of practice entails a set of closely interrelated activities that are defined by two structural elements: preferences and conditions of practice. Preferences refer to the deep, long- term goals, values, and beliefs that a person develops in the practice, whereas conditions of practice refer to the constraints and affordances impinging on the person’s practice (e.g., socioeconomic status and the norms of practice sites). A line of practice can thus be seen in the distinctive ways that a person’s preferences are attuned, over the long haul, to specific conditions of practice, and how preferences cluster to form any single line” (Azevedo, 2011, p. 147). Within a long term study, what personal lines of practice might be introduced to students to encourage engagement?
“Makerspaces are 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” (Sheridan, Halverson, Litts, Brahms, Jacobs-Priebe, & Owens, 2014, p. 505).
Vossoughi & Bevan (2014), in a review of the literature suggest that “hybrid pedagogical models” (p. 28), blending aspects of formal and informal learning environments that include demonstration and explicit teaching while building a community of practice seem to be the pedagogy of choice in a makerspace. Considering hybrid models for schools is a promising consideration.
“The Maker Movement, as it is currently being realized and branded, might be grouped into three categories: making as entrepreneurship and/or community creativity, making as STEM pipeline and workforce development, and making as inquiry-based educative practice” (Vossoughi & Bevan, 2014, p. 5). In particular, the second category seems most prevalent.
Consistent definitions of making are not found in the literature. In their review, Vossoughi & Bevan (2014) cite several and suggest “There does appear to be common agreement that making is a broad category of activity that involves people ideating, designing, and producing physical or virtual object in the world (Blikstein, 2013)” (p. 10). This connects to design thinking, which teachers could model throughout their teaching practice.
An “awareness of different aspects of one’s knowing” (Davis, Sumara, Luce-Kepler, 2015, p. 87). A short version I used as a classroom teacher was thinking about my thinking.
Play as Learning
Researchers “are pointing to the usefulness, indeed, the importance of imaginative play as a feature of specific aspects of school readiness, literacy, numeracy, general knowledge acquisition, and even civility” (Singer, 2006, p. 257). As well, through play children “gradually learn to recognize the reality of human thought processes, which are private, individualized, and potentially useful for self-entertainment, for self-examination, and ultimately for effective scientific and artistic creativity” (Singer, 2006, p. 257).
Reggio Emilia Approach
“The Reggio Emilia experience fosters children’s intellectual development through a systematic focus on symbolic representation. Young children are encouraged to explore their environment and express themselves through multiple paths and all their “languages,” including the expressive, communicative, symbolic, cognitive, ethical, metaphorical, logical, imaginative and relational” (Edwards, Gandini, & Forman, 2012, p. 7). A key part of the Reggio Emilia approach is the use of documentation to explore learning and thinking.
Scaffolding “refers to the teacher’s role, offering support that enables the learner to operate in the zone of proximal development [a phrase coined by Lev Vygotsky] until he or she is able to perform unaided” (Davis, Sumara, Luce-Kepler, 2015, p. 152).
“The fundamental nature of human cognition varies from one culture to another . . . All knowledge is situated in physical, social, and cultural contexts” (Davis, Sumara, Luce-Kapler, 2015, p. 138).
“Tinkering is a branch of making that emphasizes creative, improvisational problem solving . . . Problems or challenges are not assigned but are surfaced and pursued by the learner through initial exploratory engagement with the materials, people, practices, and ideas available in the tinkering setting” (Bevan, Gutwill, Petrich, Wilkinson, 2015, p. 99). Can tinkering be used in a school setting?
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Azevedo, F. S. (2011). Lines of practice: A practice-centered theory of interest relationships. Cognition and Instruction, 29(2), 147-184.
Barniskis, S. C. (2014). Makerspaces and Teaching Artists. Teaching Artist Journal, 12(1), 6-14.
Bevan, B., Gutwill, J. P., Petrich, M., & Wilkinson, K. (2015). Learning Through STEM‐Rich Tinkering: Findings From a Jointly Negotiated Research Project Taken Up in Practice. Science Education, 99(1), 98-120.
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