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Planting Seeds: Implementing Maker-Based Learning Programs for Urban Youth (Evaluation)

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2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


Virtual Conference

Publication Date

July 26, 2021

Start Date

July 26, 2021

End Date

July 19, 2022

Conference Session

Pre-College Engineering Education Division Technical Session 1

Tagged Division

Pre-College Engineering Education

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Paper Authors


Foad Hamidi University of Maryland Baltimore County

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Dr. Foad Hamidi is an Assistant Professor at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC). His research interests include Human-Computer Interaction, Participatory Design and Assistive Technology.

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Andrew Coy Digital Harbor Foundation

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Andrew is the founder and current Executive Director of the Digital Harbor Foundation. He also served as a senior advisor in the Office of Science and Technology Policy during the Obama administration and currently advises national technology education nonprofits including the Computer Science for All and Nation of Makers. Andrew was also the lead author on the Maryland Access Task Force report to Maryland’s Governor Larry Hogan. His work has been recognized by Baltimore Business Journal, The Daily Record, Forbes Magazine, Baltimore Sun, Education Week, and K12 Magazine.

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Amy L. Freeland University of Maryland Baltimore County

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Ms. Freeland’s areas of interest include HCI, Assistive Technology, Inclusive Practices, Everyday Computing, Ethical and Legal Practices Pertaining to Computing. In the past, she has worked on projects that include (1) the study of assistive technology as it pertains to individuals with multiple disabilities, (2) understanding how technology can aid in the sustainability of makerspaces or DIY spaces, and (3) Inclusive access to technology for underrepresented individuals or groups. She is currently employed by a top mid-Atlantic law firm in Maryland.

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With increasing interest in and recognition of the value of technology-rich maker-based informal learning experiences, there is a need to study how to design efficient and effective ways to expand these programs to diverse settings. Furthermore, it is important to find effective ways to evaluate the impact of such programs. In this paper, we present findings on the impact of maker-based learning experiences set up in three diverse informal learning settings for urban youth.

Over the past three years, we have designed, developed, and deployed a multi-phase maker-based training program that includes makerspace setup, educator training, and youth program deployment. The program gradually introduces youth to increasingly complex topics in digital fabrication, programming, design, and web development. The educator training is designed for individuals with little or no prior experience with making and can be conducted either in person, virtually, or in a hybrid mode combing both. We implemented the program at three sites for approximately nine months. We analyzed interview data from 9 educators and administrators and survey data from 30 youth.

We found that the programs generated considerable interest in the youth and resulted in positive shifts in their career aspirations as well as social and technical skills. Educators emphasized the importance of connecting curriculum to youth's specific interests, for example as it relates to the entrepreneurial possibilities of digital design and fabrication. They also observed challenges with youth attitudes towards program assessments and suggested ways forward for developing alternative ways to evaluate youth experiences and provide feedback.

Hamidi, F., & Coy, A., & Freeland, A. L. (2021, July), Planting Seeds: Implementing Maker-Based Learning Programs for Urban Youth (Evaluation) Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference. 10.18260/1-2--37583

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