1. Keith Trahan
  3. University of Pittsburgh
  1. Everett Herman
  2. http://www.ceac.pitt.edu
  4. University of Pittsburgh CEAC, University of Pittsburgh
  1. Cynthia Tananis
  3. University of Pittsburgh

EAGER: MAKER: Researching a School District’s Integration of the Maker Moveme...

NSF Awards: 1623431

2017 (see original presentation & discussion)

Grades 6-8, Grades 9-12

EAGER: MAKER: Researching a School District’s Integration of the Maker Movement into its Middle and High SchoolThe beginning of the 21st century saw the rise of Maker Spaces or informal community workshops where people of all ages engage in a variety of creative design and fabrication activities with materials and equipment that would otherwise be out of reach for the average person. Given its power to engage learners, grades K‐12 educators and school leaders are considering how the Maker Movement might be integrated into formal school settings. This research project uses case study methodology to articulate how the Elizabeth Forward School District (EFSD) integrates the Maker movement into its secondary schools. Since 2013, EFSD has used a variety of Making tools and approaches to promote a project‐based curriculum that integrates art, technology education, and computer science at the middle and high school levels. Using mixed methods, Year 1 of the project articulates and tracks EFSD’s internal efforts and processes, and collaborations with various external partners. Year 2 of the project focuses more specifically on teacher and student outcomes, exploring how introducing Maker activities into formal STEM education impacts instruction, engagement, learning, and community involvement. Intellectually, the project is important because it examines the intersection of formal and informal learning environments, offering insight into whether and how the essence of Making is modified by its inclusion into formal settings. Practically, the research will offer other school districts a timely example of the rewards and challenges involved in Maker integration.

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Discussion from the 2017 STEM for All Video Showcase (10 posts)
  • Icon for: Michael Haney

    Michael Haney

    May 15, 2017 | 11:39 a.m.

    This is a project that builds on the Maker Movement and targets K-12.  An important focus is on the use of space and examining the impact of innovative classroom design (and concomitant curriculum innovations) on "instruction, engagement, learning, and community involvement."  But to have a broad impact, the project will need to deliver outcomes that are tangible and palatable to formal education beyond the EFSD.  You have a good list of measurables, but what type of data would be persuasive to other districts?  How do you think your results will inform design?  How would you reach communities designing or renovating schools realizing that these are not communities that are usually informed by research journals?

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    Nancy Bunt
  • Icon for: Everett Herman

    Everett Herman

    May 18, 2017 | 09:00 a.m.

    Thank you so much for your thought provoking questions. In year one, our project is looking at what this one district needed to have in place to bring such a large-scale reform effort into its schools and what exactly it has done.  We hope that by delineating the essential ingredients needed in this case, other districts can self-assess their own capacity.  As far as outcomes, we are looking at traditional measures of academic success but we also are interested in looking at the district's own stated objectives of increasing student engagement and attendance.  Year two of our research will be focusing on these among other things.  We also appreciate your point that many districts won't be looking at research journals so we should look to more practitioner-oriented publications.

  • Icon for: Keith Trahan

    Keith Trahan

    Lead Presenter
    May 18, 2017 | 10:55 a.m.

    Thank you for the comments and questions. Year one of our project focuses on description of the integration. In year two, we will focus more on measurement and impact. Two of our focus areas are in course taking and engagement by students. The idea is that increase in innovative classes that offer opportunities for creativity and Making have a broad impact on the culture of the school. 

  • Icon for: Thomas Kalil

    Thomas Kalil

    Entrepreneur in Residence
    May 15, 2017 | 09:27 p.m.

    Survey data suggests that student engagement declines as students progress from primary to middle to high school.  Can maker-centered learning help turn this around?  Is there any research that suggests that increased student engagement improves student learning outcomes - like taking more challenging courses, or high-school completion.  I agree with Michael that the discussion of space is interesting to school leaders and teachers that have already been convinced.  What will it take to convince them to embrace maker-centered learning?

  • Icon for: Everett Herman

    Everett Herman

    May 18, 2017 | 09:02 a.m.

    As mentioned above, this district had increasing student engagement as one of the goals of this innovation, so we will try to examine further in year two.  Part of our work has also been looking at flow in the middle school as an indicator of engagement. We will also be tracking course selection as part of year two of this data collection.  The move towards real world learning and job readiness might be part of the conversation that will help educators embrace maker-centered learning.

  • Melissa Sheffer

    Undergraduate Student
    May 16, 2017 | 08:18 p.m.

    Great video and project overall, gathering data on the impact of maker-centered learning will allow for other school districts to see the impact and the value that these spaces have on students learning. I can see how these spaces would have students more engaged than a typical classroom setting, but how does this translate to other classes the students are taking? Is every student required to be in one of these classes that employs a maker-centered learning space? I am curious as to how this type of space would translate to the elementary level, and if it could be done so that students are still learning content but in a maker centered way. 

  • Icon for: Everett Herman

    Everett Herman

    May 18, 2017 | 09:05 a.m.

    In the middle school every student has to take these classes -- unless they are specializing in music and want to double up on their music classes.  Then they are waived.  In the high school there are two required courses for graduation but the rest are electives.  In year two of our research we will be looking at how this innovation has affected school climate and the other, non-making courses.  There are districts in our area who are doing making with elementary level children.  Maybe that will be our next grant!  In the meantime, we will be presenting on part of our year 1 findings at the ISTE conference in case any viewers will be attending! 

  • Icon for: Anna Suarez

    Anna Suarez

    May 18, 2017 | 02:14 a.m.

    I enjoyed your video and the fantastic opportunity your project has to evaluate the district's integration of the Maker Movement.  

    Are you adapting evaluation tools from other similar projects? This seems such a golden opportunity to capture baseline data on students as they embark on a more hands-on experience.  Given that this is an EAGER project with limited funds, what key research question(s) are you hoping to address?

  • Icon for: Everett Herman

    Everett Herman

    May 18, 2017 | 01:48 p.m.

    Thanks for your questions!

    We are developing instruments for year two and have thus not found anything that fits exactly. We are open to ideas of any instruments that folks have been using in this space!

    Our research questions are as follows:

    RQ1 - What are the characteristics and capacities of EFSD's integrated Maker Movement at the MS and HS and which are critical for success?

    RQ2 - How has EFSD's integrated Maker Movement generated a productive nexus of informal and formal education?

    RQ3 - What is the effect of this integrated Maker Movement on student and teacher learning, confidence, and capacity in STEM?


    Thanks for watching!

  • Icon for: Anna Suarez

    Anna Suarez

    May 19, 2017 | 02:50 p.m.

    It would be interesting to see which Maker Movement projects have been NSF funded and whether they have developed evaluation tools. Checkout the awards through the ECR program or the DRK12 funded projects and contact the PIs if anything looks promising. Great project - best of luck!  

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