Maker Research Overview

Phase I: Developing a Maker Pedagogy in a Preservice Teacher Education Program

(January 2015 – Present)

Phase I will interpret how teacher candidates learn from experiences utilizing a Maker approach to pedagogy during their pre-service teacher education program. Elementary and secondary school science and/or technology teacher candidates in SFU’s teacher education program are being introduced to pedagogical ideas developed from the Maker ethos through a series of interactive workshops and presentations delivered by the Maker team.

Our Maker Space is an online and face-to-face lab environment that facilitates the sharing of technological projects and ideas relevant to teaching elementary and secondary science. For purposes of this project a traditional lab is not required; we bring in the required materials to an appropriate space. Examples of potential topics and projects include: Repurposing old computers with open-source software for use in science classrooms, programming Raspberry Pi computers and Arduino micro controllers to perform simple tasks, learning to write simple computer programs using Python, designing and building robots using LEGO Ev3 kits and online tools, dissecting old electronics for parts to use in projects and experiments, and creating functional art pieces. Data will be gathered through interviews, video recordings of work conducted in the Maker Space, and transcripts of online discussions. This phase explores questions such as:

  1. Do experiences using ideas from the Maker movement help teacher candidates construct professional knowledge or practice? How?
  2. How do prior experiences with technology play a role in candidates’ construction of knowledge about how to teach within this approach?
  3. What are characteristics of the community that forms around Maker principles?

Phase II: Developing a Maker Pedagogy in the Early Years of a Career

(This phase will begin in September 2015)

This phase will follow interested participants as they transition into their teaching careers. The focus of this phase will be to understand how new science teachers (re)construct professional knowledge from experiences enacting a Maker Pedagogy. The online and face-to-face Maker Space will continue as a hub for participants’ experiences. We will study how the sense of community developed during Phase I of the project affects the Maker Space, and how uses of this resource morph as participants disperse geographically and across differences in their local communities of teaching practice. During Phase II, I will continue to introduce ideas and projects that seem germane to teaching K-12 science, and study how other members of the Maker Space take ownership, make contributions, and collaborate in our monthly meetings. As in Phase I, interviews, video recordings, and online artifacts will be used to guide and support new teachers in documenting their developing professional knowledge, individually and within a peer group.

The following research questions guide this phase:

  1. How are new teachers’ (re)constructions of professional knowledge using Maker Pedagogy stimulated and constrained by early teaching and learning experiences in the profession?
  2. What is the role of initial teacher socialization in the development of new teachers’ professional knowledge of Maker Pedagogy?

The Role of Self-Study of Teacher Education Practices (S-STEP)

Both phases of the research will make use of self-study methodology (Loughran et al., 2004) to develop knowledge about how Maker Pedagogy might be enacted in pre-service teacher education and in the early years of a teacher’s career.  Self-study methods encourage education professors to frame a new pedagogical approach as a research problem and thus subject to data collection, analysis, interpretation, and peer review. I will keep a detailed research journal of my pedagogical approach in my introductory workshops of Maker Pedagogy and the monthly meetings of the Maker Space. I will also engage in regular conversations with “critical friends” (Costa & Kallick, 1993) in academia, K-12 education, and industry as Maker Pedagogy evolves. I will devote a part of this research to researching the development of Maker Pedagogy in teacher education programs and subjecting the development of this approach to the same scholarly rigour (offered in the self-study community) as the data collected from participants. Consequently, this research will provide valuable insight into both a pedagogy of teacher education (Loughran, 2006) and map one path for others wishing to adopt similar approaches.