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Board 112: Contextualizing Learning: Exploring the Complex Cultural System of Learning in Engineering Makerspaces

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Conference

2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition

Location

Tampa, Florida

Publication Date

June 15, 2019

Start Date

June 15, 2019

End Date

June 19, 2019

Conference Session

NSF Grantees Poster Session

Tagged Topic

NSF Grantees Poster Session

Page Count

13

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/32192

Download Count

7

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Paper Authors

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Robert L. Nagel James Madison University

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Dr. Robert Nagel is an Associate Professor in the Department of Engineering at James Madison University. Dr. Nagel joined the James Madison University after completing his Ph.D. in mechanical engineering at Oregon State University. He has a B.S. from Trine University and a M.S. from the Missouri University of Science and Technology, both in mechanical engineering. Since joining James Madison University, Nagel has helped to develop and teach the six course engineering design sequence which represents the spine of the curriculum for the Department of Engineering. The research and teaching interests of Dr. Nagel tend to revolve around engineering design and engineering design education, and in particular, the design conceptualization phase of the design process. He has performed research with the US Army Chemical Corps, General Motors Research and Development Center, and the US Air Force Academy, and he has received grants from the NSF, the EPA, and General Motors Corporation.

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Melissa Wood Aleman James Madison University

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Dr. Melissa Aleman (Ph.D. University of Iowa) is Professor of Communication Studies at James Madison University and has published research using qualitative interviewing, ethnographic and rhetorical methods to examine communication in diverse contexts. She is particularly interested in multidisciplinary studies of communication, culture, and learning in makerspaces, as well as broadening participation of women and underrepresented minority students and faculty in STEM fields.

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Megan Tomko Georgia Institute of Technology

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Megan E. Tomko is a Ph.D. graduate student in the George W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology under the guidance of Dr. Julie Linsey. She completed one semester in her graduate studies at James Madison University with Dr. Robert Nagel as her advisor. Her B.S. degree in Mechanical Engineering is from the University of Pittsburgh where she also worked as a Field Telecommunications Intern for three consecutive summers at EQT, a natural gas company headquartered in downtown Pittsburgh, PA. Megan’s research interests correspond to identifying ways to teach students how to become better designers and learners through creative and non-traditional means.

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Julie S. Linsey Georgia Institute of Technology

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Dr. Julie S. Linsey is an Associate Professor in the George W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technological. Dr. Linsey received her Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering at The University of Texas. Her research area is design cognition including systematic methods and tools for innovative design with a particular focus on concept generation and design-by-analogy. Her research seeks to understand designers’ cognitive processes with the goal of creating better tools and approaches to enhance engineering design. She has authored over 100 technical publications including twenty-three journal papers, five book chapters, and she holds two patents.

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Oumaima Atraoui James Madison University

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Oumaima Atraoui is an undergraduate research assistant for the Department of Engineering at James Madison University. She has been involved in observing and researching makerspaces and informal learning environments with an emphasis on leadership development. Oumaima is passionate about studying human behaviors and incorporating that knowledge within the scope of engineering.

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Caroline Clay James Madison University

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Caroline Clay is an undergraduate student at James Madison University in the Engineering Department. She is a student researcher studying how engineering students learn in informal learning environments and makerspaces, with an emphasis on how students learn in structured and unstructured settings. After participating in the University Innovation Fellows program Caroline is pursuing an honors thesis studying how students learn to become changemakers. Following graduation, Caroline plans to work in the intersection between entrepreneurship, engineering, and agriculture.

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Zachary Harris De Bey James Madison University

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Zachary De Bey is an undergraduate student researcher at James Madison University in the Department of Engineering. He researches informal learning environments and makerspaces with an emphasis on how trust in engineering teams plays a role in learning. He is passionate about engineers using integrated electronics and computer programming to solve contemporary issues.

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Johannah Daschil James Madison University

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Johannah Daschil is a junior engineering major minoring in political science and math at James Madison University. Daschil is a continuously curious individual who is always asking question of how and why. This curiosity has driven Daschil to explore the bridges between engineering and political science, particularly the influence of gender in the decision making processes of both disciplines. Daschil currently works on a research project to understand how learning occurs in informal learning processes such as making and the influence of gender on learning.

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Bethany Popelish James Madison University

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Bethany Popelish is a Communication and Advocacy graduate student at James Madison University researching learning in makerspaces as communities of practice. Bethany holds a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from Mary Baldwin University. Her scholarly interests include exploring methods of qualitative research and the social nature of learning and development.

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Abstract

The Engineer of 2020 recognizes creativity, invention, and innovation as indispensable qualities for engineering. It may be argued, however, that traditional engineering programs do not inherently foster these qualities in engineering students, and with limited resources and time, adding innovation-fostering experiences to already over-packed curricula may seem like an insurmountable challenge. Longitudinal studies carried out by the authors have shown that makerspaces can foster improvement in engineering students’ design self-efficacy, and three-part phenomenological interviews have shown that students in makerspaces engage in non-linear, open-ended, student-driven projects that require hands-on designing, prototyping, modeling, and testing. These studies provide initial evidence that makerspaces may have the potential to enhance students’ deep learning of engineering and engineering design. To arrive at the more complex cultural factors related to student involvement and success related to participation in makerspaces, we describe the processes of ethnographic methodologies we are using to study the intersections between the structure of an engineering curriculum and the learning that occurs outside of the classroom in makerspaces. Ethnographic methodologies of participant observation, unstructured and semi-structured interviews enable exploration of how students (1) interact within and construct the culture of makerspaces; (2) talk about maker space culture as important to their commitment to engineering; (3) learn within maker spaces; and (4) choose the type and direction of projects. This paper specifically describes the ethnographic methodologies used to track four different undergraduate student teams participating in a two-year senior capstone project, as well as three different student teams participating in a sophomore design class in which they use makerspaces to build a human powered vehicle for a client with a disability. Initial interpretations are presented that inform our understanding of the complex cultural system in which learning occurs, ultimately helping us to consider ways to improve university makerspaces.

Nagel, R. L., & Aleman, M. W., & Tomko, M., & Linsey, J. S., & Atraoui, O., & Clay, C., & De Bey, Z. H., & Daschil, J., & Popelish, B. (2019, June), Board 112: Contextualizing Learning: Exploring the Complex Cultural System of Learning in Engineering Makerspaces Paper presented at 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Tampa, Florida. https://peer.asee.org/32192

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2019 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015