June 14, 2015
June 14, 2015
June 17, 2015
Educational Research and Methods
26.1716.1 - 26.1716.18
Broadening Engineering Pathways; Learning from MakersA more inclusive vision of engineering crossed with Making could build future engineeringcapacity as well as raise awareness to the general public of the work and impact such workoffers. Findings from the Center on the Advancement of Engineering Education’s AcademicPathways Study (Atman et al., 2010), studying undergraduate persistence in engineering andstudents’ pathway by and through engineering studies, found two groups of students withdifferent motivations for engagement. The first seeks financial security, overcoming barriers offoundational math and science courses to continue, aiming for graduation. The secondapproached their studies with an intrinsic psychological motivation, seeking meaning and impactthrough their studies. Our ambition is to change the conversation to highlight the efficacy andpossibilities for this second group. This study examines the community of self-described Makersengaged in informal engineering education and tinkering activities to create technical artifacts.The primary research question is: How do pathways of Makers intersect with engineering?The study relied upon artifact elicitation and critical incident interviews conducted with 42 adultMakers at four flagship Maker Faires. Artifact elicitation interviews, based on the method ofphoto elicitation (Harper, 2002), were gathered from the Makers in front of their artifactshowcase and asked Makers to describe their invention, including how it works and their processfor bringing the idea to fruition. Critical incident technique interviews (Flanagan, 1954) wereconducted as follow-ups via Skype to more deeply explore the Makers’ educational pathways.Under a theoretical framework of constructivist grounded theory and through parallel inductive-deductive analysis, results indicate that Makers come from a variety of different pathways –engineering, science, art, and business – and are generating similar outputs with their Making.Within these parallel pathways, Makers readily pivot to advance their Making goals; they turn toformal and informal engineering to learn technical knowledge and skills and often exit formalengineering to bring their ideas to fruition while remaining active in informal engineeringcommunities. Makers rely upon an ethos of sharing to utilize the multiplicity of pathways andbackgrounds within the community. Within their educational pathways, they serve as knowledgebrokers to the Maker community, learning and sharing new knowledge and skills readily. Theneed to Make trumps formal background, with a mindset that is unafraid to take risk andimplement new ideas. Although we do not equate engineering students, practicing engineers, andMakers completely, the study will identify possible overlaps and stories of pathways within to bepossible for transformational change in the engineering education field. By sharing a diverse setof profiles of Makers and their pathways, this study advances the currently limited knowledge ofthe Maker community and transforms the conversation of who the engineer of the future couldbe by linking “making” with engineering.
Foster, C. H., & Wigner, A., & Lande, M., & Jordan, S. S. (2015, June), Welcome to the Maker Movement: Parallel Education Pathways of Adult Makers Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.25052
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