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Methods for Examining the Educational Pathways of Adult Makers

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2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Indianapolis, Indiana

Publication Date

June 15, 2014

Start Date

June 15, 2014

End Date

June 18, 2014



Conference Session

Methodological & Theoretical Contributions to Engineering Education 3

Tagged Division

Educational Research and Methods

Page Count


Page Numbers

24.903.1 - 24.903.13



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Paper Authors


Micah Lande Arizona State University, Polytechnic campus

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Dr. Micah Lande teaches human-centered design innovation at Arizona State University and researches how engineers learn and apply a design process to their work. He is an assistant professor in the Department of Engineering on Arizona State University's Polytechnic campus.

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Shawn S. Jordan Arizona State University, Polytechnic campus Orcid 16x16

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Shawn Jordan, Ph.D. is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Engineering at Arizona State University. He is the PI on three NSF-funded projects: CAREER: Engineering Design Across Navajo Culture, Community, and Society (EEC 1351728), Might Young Makers be the Engineers of the Future? (EEC 1329321), and Broadening the Reach of Engineering through Community Engagement (BRECE) (DUE 1259356). He is also Co-PI on one NSF-funded project: Should Makers be the Engineers of the Future? (EEC 1232772), and is senior personnel on an NSF-funded grant entitled Workshop: I-Corps for Learning (i-Corps-L). He received his Ph.D. in Engineering Education (2010) and M.S./B.S. in Electrical and Computer Engineering from Purdue University, and as a qualitative researcher studies both STEM and informal engineering education. As an educator, he founded and led a team to two collegiate National Rube Goldberg Machine Contest championships, and has co-developed the STEAM Machines™ / “Rube Goldbergineering” program over the past 6 years to expose middle and high school students to the engineering design process.

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Methods for Examining the Educational Pathways of Adult Makers (Paper type: Research)We can probably all recall a friend or colleague who fits Apple’s Think Different tribute to thepractically ingenious. While sometimes they succeed in making big changes, they often lackrequisite resources to fully realize their dreams - resources that could be facilitated byengineering training. Building on the work understanding student engineering pathways, ourresearch seeks to examine the community of self-described Makers engaged in informalengineering education and tinkering activities. As Makers embolden characteristics from theEngineer of 2020, and in particular practical ingenuity, creativity, and propensity toward lifelonglearning, we explore the question: Should Makers be the engineers of the future?Using qualitative research methods of critical incident, artifact, and context elicitationinterviews, we are developing a theory describing Makers and their engineering educationpathways. Our primary research questions are: (RQ1) What knowledge, skills, and attitudes doMakers possess that could be related to engineering? and (RQ2) How do pathways of Makersintersect with engineering?This study is grounded in the conceptual framework of Bloom’s taxonomy and pathways theory,which provides a useful means to knowledge, skills and attitudes Makers may posses as well asengineering pathway decisions. A total of 36 participants are being sampled purposefully andequally stratified across the dimensions of age (college age and post-college age Makers) andengagement (through their formal engineering education, informal engineering education andtinkering activities). The study population is being over-sampled for underrepresented groupsbased on ethnicity and gender.This study will advance the currently limited knowledge of the Maker community by developingtheory characterizing Makers and their pathways through the lens of formal engineeringeducation. The aim is to establish evidence as to how Makers embody specific attributes of theEngineer of 2020 and discover additional attributes of Makers that could define the engineer ofthe future. By highlighting such connections to engineering, the results will inform subsequentplanned research of “early makers” (pre-college age) and their pathways to successfulengagement in engineering.The results of this study can transform the conversation of who the engineer of the future couldbe, linking “making” with engineering in the same way that students who excel in science andmath are pointed toward engineering by parents and career counselors. By sharing a diverse(gender and ethnicity) set of success profiles of engineering Makers widely in the formaleducation system (students, K-12 school administrators, university leaders, and admissionsofficers) and to Makers both online and at Maker community events, we aim to illuminatepathways for Makers to become the engineers of the future. In addition, this study could informfuture innovation in formal engineering education pedagogy based on successful attributes ofinformal engineering education and tinkering activities. By characterizing the engineeringactivities of Makers, this study will provide a scholarly foundation to awarding academic creditto both students and lifelong learners for their informal engineering education experiences.

Lande, M., & Jordan, S. S. (2014, June), Methods for Examining the Educational Pathways of Adult Makers Paper presented at 2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Indianapolis, Indiana. 10.18260/1-2--22836

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