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Dr. Jones, co-authors examine maker-centered learning

Spotlight on SOE faculty research

Dr. Monty Jones, associate professor, Department of Teaching and Learning [View Image] [View Image]Dr. Monty Jones

The amount of knowledge being generated by VCU School of Education faculty in published research goes beyond merely enhancing the school’s reputation – it is helping to shape the future of education itself. One recent example of this is the study below, co-authored by Dr. Monty Jones, which looks at teacher maker-centered learning in a professional development experience.

Summary

Dr. Monty Jones, along with several then-student co-authors, examined the perspectives of eight teachers from an independent girls’ high school who participated in a maker-centered professional development (PD) learning experience.

Maker-centered education is designed to empower students to feel they can build and shape their worlds through engagement with their physical and conceptual environments. To provide teachers with an opportunity to engage in an authentic making experience, participants were provided membership to a commercial makerspace for eight weeks and were tasked with creating one meaningful artifact. The commercial makerspace was chosen because it had a large selection of technologies and tools designed specifically for adults.

The PD experience for each participant varied depending on what they decided to make and the processes they used. The artifacts ranged from large wooden tables and wind chimes to ornaments or picture frames. A unique characteristic of the PD was its flexibility, as participants’ time spent inside and outside the space working on their artifact also varied, thus emulating an authentic makerspace.

Working with the makerspace staff, participants learned to use different equipment based on the artifacts they were making and, with practice, reported increased confidence and reacting more productively to failure. Participants also brought their teacher identities to the PD but quickly shifted to the role of learner, promoting reflection on their own teaching practices. Common teaching themes included providing students more choice and means and opportunity to pursue individual interests.

The study’s findings demonstrate that authentic making experiences may help teachers identify possible benefits for their students.

Citation

Jones, M.W., Caratachea, M., Schad, M., & Cohen, J.D. (2020). Examining K-12 teacher learning in a makerspace through the activity-identity-community framework. Journal of Research on Technology in Education. DOI: 10.1080/15391523.2020.1774824

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