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A Maker Studio Model for High School Classrooms: The Nature and Role of Critique in an Electronic Textiles Design Project

by Breanne K. Litts, Sari A. Widman, Debora A. Lui, Justice T. Walker & Yasmin B. Kafai - 2019

Background/Context: Though the maker movement has proliferated in out-of-school settings, there remains a design challenge of how to effectively integrate maker activities into K–12 classrooms. In other contexts, though, creative design and production have historically been successfully integrated in classrooms through studio models common to the arts, architecture, and engineering.

Purpose/Objective: In this paper, we leverage the features and practices of studio models from arts, architecture, and engineering education to integrate maker activities in a high school classroom. Within this Maker Studio model, students focus on designing a computational artifact and engage in practices more predominantly found in studio arts, architecture, and engineering classes such as feedback, critique, and reflection.

Research Design: We conducted a case study of how a class of 23 high school students participating in a STEM elective class in teams partnered with art students to develop an interactive installation. Our analyses focus on how the structure of the feedback, critique, and reflections in the Maker Studio informed and shaped students’ design processes.

Conclusions: We discuss affordances and implications of recognizing studio practices (particularly critique) as design features of maker activities, especially in high school classroom contexts, and present the Maker Studio as a viable model for integration of maker activities in classroom environments. We also characterize key features of the Maker Studio model, including the following: appreciation and support for maker processes in addition to or even above final products, integration of various structures for giving and receiving critique throughout the design process, support for interdisciplinary and collaborative project work, and engagement with diverse perspectives and expertise during critiques.

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Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 121 Number 9, 2019, p. 1-34
https://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 22784, Date Accessed: 7/29/2021 10:04:45 PM

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About the Author
  • Breanne Litts
    Utah State University
    E-mail Author
    BREANNE K. LITTS investigates how people learn by and collaborate through making, designing, and producing and develops technologies and learning environments to support these activities. Her scholarly interests combine identity, learning, design, and technology, particularly from a learning sciences perspective. Dr. Litts is currently an assistant professor in Instructional Technology and Learning Sciences and the founding director of the Learn Explore Design Lab, both at Utah State University. More of her recent work is published in the Journal of Science Education and Technology and Thinking, Skills, & Creativity.
  • Sari Widman
    University of Colorado Boulder
    E-mail Author
    SARI A. WIDMAN explores alternative models for STEM and digital literacy education for learners of all ages. Her research centers the development of equitable and humanizing practices in informal learning spaces and how families and communities engage with educational opportunities and resources. Her current work focuses on multi- and intergenerational learning in community settings, with a particular focus on libraries. She is currently a PhD student in Learning Sciences and Human Development at the University of Colorado Boulder School of Education.
  • Debora Lui
    University of Pennsylvania
    E-mail Author
    DEBORA A. LUI studies youth engagement with digital and computational tools, with a particular emphasis on the social and organizational structures that organically arise around these interactions. She is currently a postdoctoral fellow at the Graduate School of Education at the University of Pennsylvania, where she works on several NSF-funded projects which focus on developing K–12 curricular materials that build upon real world hands-on maker practices. Her work has been published in the Journal of Science Education and Technology and ACM Transactions on Computing Education.
  • Justice Walker
    University of Pennsylvania
    E-mail Author
    JUSTICE T. WALKER uses mixed methodologies to investigate the affordances emerging science technologies offer in STEAM teaching and learning. His research uses Learning Sciences and Sociocultural perspectives to explore ways to support learner equity, access, and citizenship using life science and computer science technologies like synthetic biology and electronic textiles. Currently, Justice is a Teaching, Learning and Teacher Education PhD student at the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education in the Teaching, Learning and Leadership division.
  • Yasmin Kafai
    University of Pennsylvania
    E-mail Author
    YASMIN B. KAFAI is the Lori and Michael Milken President’s Distinguished Professor at the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education. She is a learning scientist and designer of online tools and communities to promote coding, crafting, and creativity across K–16. Her work empowers students to use computer programming to design games, sew electronic textiles, and grow applications in biology with the goal of supporting creative expression, building social connections, and broadening participation in computing. In her recent book series Connected Play, Connected Code, and Connected Gaming—all published by MIT Press—she unveils the connections between playing online, learning programming, and making games for more constructive and creative participation in networked communities.
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