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Full STEAM ahead: Building preservice teachers’ capacity in makerspace pedagogies

Dublin Institute of Technology
Outcomes in Higher Education Higher Education in Transformation Conference,
Ontario, 2016
Full STEAM Ahead: Building Preservice Teachers’
Capacity in Makerspace Pedagogies
Jane&e Hughes
University of Ontario Institute of Technology, jane>
Jennifer La%er
University of Ontario Institute of Technology,<
Ami Mamolo
University of Ontario Institute of Technology,
Laura Morrison
University of Ontario Institute of Technology,
Diana Petrarca
University of Ontario Institute of Technology,
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Recommended Citation
Hughes, J., La<er, J., Mamolo, A., Morrison, L., & Petrarca, D. (2016), November 2-6). Full STEAM Ahead: Building Preservice
Teachers’ Capacity in Makerspace Pedagogies. Paper presented at the Higher Education in Transformation Symposium, Oshawa, Ontario,
Full STEAM Ahead: Building Preservice Teachers’ Capacity in Makerspace Pedagogies
Janette Hughes
Jennifer Laffier
Ami Mamolo
Laura Morrison
Diana Petrarca
University of Ontario Institute of Technology
Presented at the Higher Education in Transformation Symposium
November 2 - 4, 2016 in Oshawa, Ontario, Canada
The classroom landscape is changing rapidly with schools transitioning to bring your own device
(BYOD) programs as a way to engage students and to prepare them for the real world. As a
result of increased technology in the classrooms, there has been a shift in pedagogy to a more
student-centered model. Students now have increased autonomy over the tools they use in class
to complete assignments and they have ubiquitous access to information from the Internet. As a
result, teachers are being repositioned in the classroom as facilitators and guides in the learning
process. Classrooms have become transformation-based, rather than transmission-based learning
environments. However, some pre-service teacher education programs do not always adequately
prepare teacher candidates for this reformed teaching and learning structure that draws heavily
on technology, collaboration and problem-based learning (Horizon Report, 2015, p. 28). One
way to address the upskilling of pre-service and in-service teachers is to offer them professional
development in the area of makerspaces as these are creative, educational, collaborative spaces
that capitalize on current technology and help prepare students with the kinds of skills required
for active participation in modern society – politically, socially and economically. The 2015
Horizon report indicates that “Makerspaces are places where anyone, regardless of age or
experience, can exercise their ingenuity to construct tangible products. For this reason, many
schools are seeing their potential to engage learners in hands-on learning activities” (p. 38). The
educational benefit of makerspaces reflects a clear need for professional development for pre-
service and in-service teachers and a pressing need to simultaneously incorporate makerspaces
into schools to keep pace with society and students’ out-of-school literacy practices.
This paper explores teacher candidates’ understandings of 1) makerspace/constructionist
pedagogies; 2) the issue of bullying; and, 3) working with at-risk youth, as they evolved over the
course of a six-month partnership. The partnership included researchers and teacher candidates at
a Faculty of Education and the teacher librarian at a local elementary school who were
participating in a larger Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC)-
funded project that focuses on building, implementing and evaluating an effective model for a
school improvement program that increases teachers’ capacity, experience and specific fluency
and expertise with technologies supporting STEAM learning and digital literacies. In this paper,
we discuss qualitative ethnographic case study research, which examines in depth the
experiences of five teacher candidates as they worked with 20 students in a grade 6 class in a
high needs school on makerspace activities related to bullying prevention in their school
community. Qualitative research documentation includes digital video and audio recordings, on
the-ground field notes and observational notes, pre and post interviews with participants and
focus group sessions. Results from this study contribute new knowledge in the areas of
preservice teacher development and digitally-enhanced learning environments for K-6 learners.
Keywords: makerspace/production pedagogies, preservice teacher education, bullying
prevention, at-risk youth
Full STEAM Ahead: Building Preservice Teachers’ Capacity in Makerspace Pedagogies
The classroom landscape is changing rapidly with schools transitioning to BYOD
programs as a way to engage students and to prepare them for the real world. As a result of
increased technology in the classrooms, students now have increased autonomy over the tools
they use in class to complete assignments and they have ubiquitous access to information from
the Internet. As a result, teachers are being repositioned in the classroom as facilitators and
guides in a transformation-based learning environment. However, some teacher education
programs do not always adequately prepare teacher candidates for this reformed teaching and
learning structure that draws heavily on technology, collaboration and problem-based learning
(Johnson, Adams Becker, Estrada & Freeman, 2015, p. 28). One way to address the upskilling of
pre-service and in-service teachers is to offer them professional development in the area of
makerspaces as these are creative, educational, collaborative spaces that capitalize on current
technology and help prepare students with the kinds of skills required for active participation in
modern society – politically, socially and economically.
This research addresses the need for concerted attention by faculties of education to the
conceptual and operational challenges of assuring “digital literacy” across the digital divide. This
school-university collaboration aims to bring the resources and expertise of all partners directly
to bear on addressing the “digital divide” evidenced in low socio-economic status (SES), high
need schools. The partnership in this project involves a small group of preservice teachers and a
class of high needs elementary students in a local public school. This study is part of a larger
school improvement SSHRC-funded project that focuses on how a university-school partnership
intervention might have a significant impact on student achievement in literacy and the
development of digital literacy. For the purposes of this paper, we focus on a specific program
intervention that took place over the course of three months, in which five teacher candidates in
an initial teacher education program worked with 21 grade six students on a variety of “maker”
activities. The overarching goal of the study was to investigate how teacher candidates might use
digital tools to induct this group of under-performing students into a community of practice and
improve student achievement. More specifically, we examined how the use of maker pedagogies
might potentially transform their teaching, while at the same time, help them reframe their
constructions of “at-risk youth” and prepare them to address social challenges such as bullying.
The 2015 Horizon report indicates that “Makerspaces are places where anyone,
regardless of age or experience, can exercise their ingenuity to construct tangible products. For
this reason, many schools are seeing their potential to engage learners in hands-on learning
activities” (Johnson et al., 2015, p. 38). The educational benefit of makerspaces reflects a clear
need for professional development for pre-service and in-service teachers and a pressing need to
simultaneously incorporate makerspaces into schools to keep pace with society and students’
out-of-school literacy practices. In this research project we explore teacher candidates’
understandings of: 1) makerspace/constructionist pedagogies; 2) the issue of bullying; and, 3)
working with at-risk youth, as they evolved over the course of a three-month partnership. The
partnership included researchers and teacher candidates at a Faculty of Education and teachers
and the teacher-librarian at a local elementary school.
Makerspace Pedagogies
Halverson and Sheridan (2014) define the maker movement as “the growing number of
people who are engaged in the creative production of artifacts in their daily lives and who find
physical and digital forums to share their processes and products with others” (p. 496). The
maker movement is associated primarily with STEM or STEAM education (where there is a
focus on embedding the arts into science, technology, engineering and math); however, maker
pedagogies more generally, promote important principles including inquiry, play, imagination,
innovation and design thinking, critical thinking, problem solving, collaboration, and
personalized learning. A current need in this area is to define best practices and to better
understand how to utilize making for the purpose of learning (Halverson & Sheridan, 2014).
DIY paradigms have recently re-emerged and have gained popularity as a medium for
creative expression (Buechley, Eisenberg, Catchen & Crockett, 2008; Buechley & Perner
Wilson, 2012; Kuznetsov & Paulos, 2010; Tanenbaum, Williams, Desjardins & Tanenbaum,
2013) and self-directed learning (Martinez & Stager, 2013; Qiu, Buechley, Baafi & Dubow,
2013; Kafai et al., 2014). The maker movement for education has broadened the level of
participation in DIY activities across several demographics leading to increased activity in terms
of creation of new makerspaces for practicing hands on learning, encouraging girls to participate
in STEM activities, and generally placing emphasis on the idea that every child can become an
innovator (Halverson & Sheridan, 2014). Situated within a constructionist approach to education
(Papert & Harel, 1991), making bridges the physical processes of constructing with digital
media. Making with digital media is not new in education; teachers have been working with their
students to create digital stories and other digital texts for many years now. However, access to
user-friendly digital tools is making it easier for students to create multimodal, multimedia
content, positioning them as producers rather than just consumers (Hughes & Morrison, 2014;
Groff, 2013). Unlike more traditional instructionist approaches to learning (where the knowledge
to be received by students is already embedded in objects delivered by teachers), constructionist
learning encourages learners to learn from their own active engagement with raw materials.
Central to the makerspace movement are questions concerning impact, implementation,
and influence, including: How do these spaces impact student learning? How might they promote
civic engagement, innovative and design thinking and entrepreneurship? What makes school-
based makerspaces distinct from community makerspaces? How can they promote equity and
sustainability in education?
In our study, the form of civic engagement which underpinned the makerspace activities
was bullying prevention – a topic which emerged as one of importance to the students involved
with our study, and one which has garnered increasing attention from schools and school boards
due to the prevalence of this form of school violence (Nansel, Haynie & Simons-Morton, 2007;
Zins, Elias & Maher, 2007). Surveys consistently indicate that almost one-quarter of all students
experience hurtful interactions with peers on a monthly or daily basis (e.g., Farrington & Tfoti,
2009). Research indicates that multifaceted approaches to reducing bullying in schools are more
likely to succeed than single-component programs. This includes a school-wide component
centered on awareness, monitoring, and assessment of bullying; a classroom component focused
on building social and emotional skills, such as social problem solving and empathy (Ragozzino
& O’Brien, 2009); and an intervention component for students who are frequent targets or
perpetrators of bullying. Our focus for the makerspace was on the classroom component where
we aimed to build not only awareness but also social and emotional skills such as problem
solving, conflict management and empathy amongst the students. Each week we introduced
discussions and activities centres on these themes. Activities promoted a peer-to-peer
empowerment approach via students’ making of specific items intended to raise awareness and
promote positive messaging across the school (e.g., wearable tech, digital posters, infographics).
Studies indicate that when children and youth receive messages from their peers and not
'authority figures' they relate more to the messages (Farrington & Tfoto, 2009). Therefore, peer
programs can have statistically significant effects on attitudes, norms, knowledge, behaviors, and
health and achievement outcomes (Advocates for Youth, 2015). One of the goals of peer-to-peer
promotion of bullying prevention messages was to help foster students’ sense of community and
different ways they could see themselves as belonging in, and leaders of, a positive school
Previous attempts to address bullying have not met with much success at this particular
school. Though signs are posted as visitors enter, noting that the school has a “zero-tolerance
policy” for bullying, there are still incidents and the school has garnered a reputation as a school
in which bullying occurs. The new administration at the school is committed to tackling the
issues and identified an anti-bullying program intervention as a thematic priority in our
partnership. They indicated that they wanted to reverse the negative associations with bullying at
the school. The school itself is recognized as “high needs”, with significant populations of
students who were considered “at-risk”, who came from troubled backgrounds and low SES
households, who struggled with mental health and learning challenges, or who were labeled as
poorly socially adapted. Giving children and youth opportunities to act as agents of change can
be empowering (e.g., Morton & Montgomery, 2013), and can foster perceptions of self-efficacy,
influence and control, and skills and prospects to effect change (Zimmerman, 2000). By
introducing students to a makerspace environment, we hoped to help encourage empowerment,
expression of voice, as well as the development of important social and emotional skills, such as
conflict management and both social and digital problem solving.
Since this research focused on the transformation in teaching practices and student
learning, an ethnographic case study approach was suitable. The researchers were immersed in
the case, leading classroom activities and discussions, and thereby accumulated local knowledge.
Participants and Context
This study involved five pre-service teacher candidates (three female and two male) and
21 grade six students from a nearby school, located in a “priority neighbourhood” (an area
identified by the Region’s Health Department as a low income community that requires focus to
build on health and well-being). The school is centrally located within an area identified as at
“high risk” as determined by the Region’s Social Risk Index, which indicates that the area has
the lowest average household income and lowest proportion of owner-occupied dwellings. In
addition, the community has a very high number of lone parent families and a high reliance on
government support payments. The unemployment rate is also high in proportion with the rest of
the Region. According to the “Report Card on Ontario’s Elementary Schools 2015” (Cowley &
Easton, 2015), our partner school was ranked in the bottom 3% over the past five years. Based on
grade three and grade six provincial tests, the school received an overall rating of 4.8/10 in 2014
– a failing grade, though this increased from 3.7/10 in the previous year and from 0.8/10 in 2011.
One of our primary goals was to provide opportunities for students in low income areas
with hands on experiences with digital technologies and DIY/Maker activities. Though most of
our sessions took place in the school’s library, we also invited the students to our STEAM 3D
Maker Lab at the Faculty of Education as a way to familiarize students with the idea of having a
(future) place in the university. The students with whom we worked were primarily from
families who had never gone on to post-secondary education.
Following Swadener (2010), we agree that the term “at-risk” has been overused and tends
to suggest a deficit model, positioning these youth as “other” in “dominant education and policy
discourses” (p. 8). While we recognize that the students we worked with in our study do, by the
nature of their unfortunate circumstances, “inhabit the ‘margins’ of contemporary society and are
systematically excluded from many of its benefits” (Swadener, 2010, p. 8), we choose to think of
them as “at promise” for success, rather than “at risk” of failure (Swadener, 2010, p. 9). We also
draw upon the work of Nel Noddings (2007) and Tom Cavanagh (2004) to explore how teacher
candidates might work to address two education gaps simultaneously – achievement and
discipline -- through culturally responsive pedagogy and a commitment to a “culture of care”.
Of the 21 grade six students in the class, 10 of them have Individual Education Plans (one
for behaviour, two for a language impairment and seven for learning disabilities). There are also
two integrated students from a treatment class who attended each session. The students had a
range of experience with, and access to, technology and different digital tools both at home and
in school from previous grades. The students’ digital literacy skills also ranged significantly. The
preservice teacher candidates were in the second semester of a four semester initial teacher
education program. Involvement of all participants in this study was voluntary.
Research Design and Process
Through an integrated STEAM-based curriculum, with a thematic focus on bullying and
making, the students explored ways to create awareness in their school about bullying and to
make tangible and digital artefacts to this end. In doing this, our project was divided into two
iterations. The first iteration consisted of eight sessions and focused primarily on understanding
bullying, the various roles involved and the difference between positive and negative power. As
we write this paper, we are currently involved in the second iteration and will only be reporting
on the first. In the first iteration, the preservice teachers collaborated on lesson plans with
members of the research team. They then tailored the lessons based on weekly goals. Every
week, the team worked with the grade 6 students in the school library, for 2.5 hours each session.
The students, led by the pre-service teachers, engaged in a wide range of activities, including
digital poster-making using PicCollage and the Pages App; digital infographic-making using
Piktochart; creating wearable tech pieces (hats, t-shirts, bags) using Arduino LilyPad; button-
making using WordSwag and a button press and photography/videography using the photo/video
apps on the iPad Air. We did this to encourage the students’ development of digital literacies
skills. Most of the above mentioned programs and apps were accessed/used on iPad Airs that we
loaned to the students at the beginning of the project, and which they used both during the
project and at different times in their regular classrooms.
In order to begin the process of building community and cohesiveness in the group, and
to get them thinking about the issues surrounding bullying and how we can agentively respond or
address these issues through making, we began the first iteration identifying items such as: who
are we as a group and what are our goals as a maker club? We also identified and discussed
various bullying-like scenarios that have occurred in either their classroom or school that we
could address through the club. The next few sessions focused on exploring the difference
between positive and negative power; learning how to communicate through different digital and
multimodal tools, such as learning about circuits and how they could be used to create real-world
artefacts that spread a positive power message. In whole-class and small groups, students were
taken through a variety of discussion-based, written-/research-based and kinesthetic activities
that guided them toward an understanding of bullying and the makerspace tools. Sessions aimed
to be student-centred and inquiry-based, and were book-ended by warm-up and debrief activities
to further encourage the development of a classroom community and critical reflection.
Data Sources
Throughout the project, the researchers recorded detailed field notes, collected the
preservice teachers’ planning notes and reflections, still images/video recordings of their
interactions with the students and classroom conversations. The researchers also engaged in
informal discussions with the teacher candidates and teacher-librarian, of which noteworthy
points, themes, ideas or feedback were recorded through text or voice recorder. We also
conducted a set of open-ended interviews asking the preservice teachers to discuss what they
learned about using maker pedagogies to address the theme of bullying with the students, and
what they learned about working with these particular students. Thematic coding (Miles &
Huberman, 1994) and cross-case analysis were used when examining the data sources. During
the data analysis, we were particularly interested in what Bruner (1994) identifies as ‘turning
points,’ looking for areas where the teacher candidates presented increased confidence or “aha
moments” in their work with the participating youth. Results from this study contribute new
knowledge in the areas of pre-service teacher development and digitally-enhanced learning
environments, specifically related to maker pedagogies, for middle school learners.
Our focus here is the impact this partnership had on the teacher candidates and below, we
share their perceptions of the success of the Full STEAM Ahead intervention. Not surprisingly,
the primary challenge identified by the teacher candidates was building a trusting relationship
with the students. Although many of the students in the class were on Individualized Educational
Plans (IEPs) for various reasons, planning and facilitating inquiry-based lessons according to
individual student needs was not a major concern for them. The teacher candidates struggled to
achieve a balance between maintaining high academic expectations and providing “too much”
help to students, who gave up quickly in the beginning. Over the course of the intervention, the
students became less reluctant to exploring new ideas and opportunities, and began to take more
ownership over their learning. The most pressing issues for the teacher candidates were not
related to curriculum content or technology use, but rather how they might support the students,
help them gain confidence and provide them with an experience that might create a more
positive disposition toward learning. To do this, they had to confront their preconceptions about
“at-risk” youth. Re-thinking adolescence in general, and the notion of “at-risk youth” in
particular, involved a reframing of adolescence/ts as a social construct (Lesko, 2012;
Sarigianides, Lewis & Petrone, 2015).
Teacher Candidates’ Perceptions of Using Makerspace Pedagogies with this Group
The teacher candidates saw both benefits and challenges in using maker pedagogies with
the students. They all noted the power of inquiry-based learning, allowing students to explore a
variety of technologies and giving them autonomy in choosing the tools they feel might be the
best fit for what they wanted to make. Connected to this, the teacher candidates felt that this
approach promoted creativity, because students were able to design their own tangible products
based on the raw and digital materials available to them. Interestingly, the students struggled at
first in the e-textiles segment of the project to design a wearable that promoted an anti-bullying
message. It was not until we presented them with the array of materials available that they began
to develop some concrete ideas and plans. Lindsay (all names are pseudonyms) observed that
presenting the students with the raw materials (canvas tote bags, t-shirts, hats, gloves,
bookmarks, wristbands) made the activity more “relevant to their age and interests” and acted as
a catalyst to “get them hands-on creating and making things”. All of the teacher candidates
agreed that having students produce a tangible product engaged them in the activity of sewing
circuits because “they [were] able to see their accomplishments” (Richard).
The teacher candidates also noted that the makerspace activities promoted collaboration
and problem solving, two skills that were particularly important for this group of students. Bruce
observed, “I can see that students are exploring, they're discussing, they're questioning each
other, they're coming up with solutions, they're using all of those observation and exploration
skills that are super important in today's education”. Lindsay noted that participating in this
project helped her think about how to “combine curriculum expectations with makerspace
activities” in order to make her lessons “much more engaging and enjoyable”.
Although they focused on the benefits of makerspace pedagogies, the teacher candidates
did mention some of the challenges they witnessed during the project. The biggest challenge they
identified dealt with managing the materials and technologies. Programs or apps we wanted to
use on the iPads worked when tested at the University; however, when we tried to use the same
apps at the school, the school district filters were often an impediment, either blocking us
completely or requiring us to do demonstrations with a projector and school laptop. The teacher
candidates learned very quickly that everything has to be tested at the school in advance; they
also learned how to problem solve and find work-arounds. An added challenge was monitoring
the progress of each student. Maker pedagogies promote individualized learning and students are
encouraged to work at their own pace; however, logistically this was more difficult than it might
be with regular meetings as we were only at the school once a week. At the beginning of each
session, we introduced new activities and allowed students who had not completed the previous
week’s project some time to do so. As such, students were sometimes working on different tasks.
Keeping students on task was another challenge mentioned by the teacher candidates.
Richard observed, “At times it was hard to keep the students motivated to do their work” and
noted that when we did the e-textiles work, some of the students were frustrated by their “fine
motor hindrances” (threading a needle, tying a knot in thread), which caused them to abandon
their projects. He observed that some of the other teacher candidates were doing these tasks for
the students to help them, but he suggested that it is “important for the teacher to plan projects
with their interests in mind and to have alternatives for them” because he felt that “the student
should have full control of making it themselves”. In a focus group session, the teacher
candidates agreed that it would have been beneficial to scaffold the e-textiles session by having
the students sew buttons onto a piece of fabric first. There was some debate about whether this is
necessary if the principles of maker pedagogies include “just in time” teaching and learning by
doing; however, in the end, they confirmed that they would build in more scaffolding when they
worked with their own future students.
For this group of 21 students, most of whom do not own personal mobile devices, the
iPads sometimes became distractions rather than learning tools. All of the teacher candidates
observed that the students were taking selfies and playing with the photo booth feature and
asking Siri questions. One teacher candidate noted that at the beginning he saw this as a
“nuisance” but later realized that the questions they were asking Siri were often related to the
task. For example, students who wanted to search for information but had difficulty with spelling
could orally ask Siri to search for something they needed. Near the end of the project, students
created posters with messages related to conflict resolution, problem-solving and anti-bullying
using Pages, Vanilla Pen and/or WordSwag apps. We showed them how to airdrop the final
posters to a central laptop for printing. Within minutes the students were airdropping photos of
themselves to everyone else in the class causing chaos for the teacher candidates who were
trying to collect the posters. These are indeed some of the challenges of using iPads in the
classroom; however, they also served as valuable learning experiences for the teacher candidates.
They discovered very early on to capitalize on the students’ interests in selfies, for example, by
building the use of selfies into the lesson design. They asked students to take a selfie to represent
how they felt about their learning at the end of a session and they suggested that students include
selfies in their posters, buttons and other creations.
What Teacher Candidates Learned About Bullying and Bullying Prevention
When reflecting on issues of bullying and bullying prevention, teacher candidates seemed
to focus primarily on challenges they observed and experienced. The importance of students
understanding what constitutes bullying, was raised. Lindsay felt that “before bullying can be
discussed, students need to understand exactly what it means to be a bully and to be bullied”.
Appreciating differences between bullying behaviour and other kinds of negative behaviours was
important and took time for both teacher candidates and students. Lindsay pointed out that
“issues surrounding bullying need to be addressed and discussed on a regular basis” and that
“students often consider bullying to be physical, rather than mental or verbal.” Similarly, Bruce
noted the importance of enforcing appropriate messages around bullying, though he
acknowledged that students “know a lot, they’re well-informed”. Bruce observed that bullying
was part of “the reality of the students that we’re working with” and that “it’s not beyond their
area of thinking” though they seemed focused on “the bigger stuff” such as “aggression…
violence… guns in schools”. One of the challenges noted by Bruce was in raising awareness that
bullying also includes smaller, everyday events that are persistently acted out. In reflection, he
commented: “I don’t think that they’re really truly grasping that the monotonous little pushing
and nitpicking” is “where it starts and then it evolves”. However, he was optimistic that over
time, the connections would thicken as students were “right on that edge… of you know, really
understanding how this… how this constant bickering really impacts them”.
The nature of bullying as a repeated offense was not necessarily well understood by
students or teacher candidates, and teacher candidates in particular struggled to disentangle what
might be considered bullying behaviour from the students from other kinds of acting out. For
example, Richard observed a disconnect between lesson emphases on bullying prevention and
students’ in-class behaviours. While he observed that “some good answers did come out” during
discussion, he “did not notice a big change in how they [the students] treat each other and even
the TCs”. Richard commented on students’ inattentiveness and ways of working that contrasted
with his own expectations for student learning. He lamented that “there were times where they
[the students] did not listen or include the TCs in their discussions and would ‘shun’ us out.”
Richard seemed to have implicit expectations for how the students and teacher candidates should
interact in a community of learners, some of which seemed to contradict his expectations for
makerspace pedagogies. Whereas Richard felt that students “should have full control of
making”, he also clearly felt a desire to be part of the learning and not be “shunned out”. For
Richard, a potential conflict seems to exist between his desire to promote independence and
student ownership and his desire to feel included in his role as an instructor.
Teacher candidates’ reflections highlighted some of the complexities of addressing issues
of bullying and bullying prevention in our study in particular, but also in general. The
recognition that students are “well-informed” about bullying via their lived experiences as well
as the availability of information through media sources speaks to the challenge of consistent
messaging. On a general level, students see and hear about bullying from sources both within
and outside of their school experiences, and these experiences can contribute to tacit
understandings and expectations about bullying that may not align with intended learning goals.
In our particular case, the challenge of reinforcing particular messages on a regular basis was
further complicated by the fact that we were only with the students once a week. The content of
lessons, the ways of interacting between instructors and students, and the makerspace pedagogies
that were enacted in our visits were at times starkly different from what students were
experiencing throughout their school week. Students were thus constantly adjusting between
expectations and normative standards, not all of which were explicitly communicated to them.
What Teacher Candidates Learned About Working with At-Risk Youth
That which really stood out for teacher candidates when reflecting on their experiences
with at-risk youth was the importance of relationship-building via listening. Lindsay observed
that “students require support in many different areas”, a sentiment which was echoed by
Richard who commented that “there will always be students that come into your classroom with
some sort of baggage.” For both teacher candidates, it was important to cultivate a “safe
environment’ (Richard) where students “felt as ease” and “felt they could discuss their home life
with us” (Lindsay). An essential part of cultivating such an environment was a willingness to
listen, which teacher candidates noted might not always be available: “often students just need
someone who can listen to them” (Lindsay) and “sometimes they just need that one person that
will listen to them” (Richard). Actively listening to students’ concerns afforded Lindsay
opportunities to encourage “students to reflect on the situations as a group so it turned into a
learning experience for them”. Richard noted the personal reward associated with developing
connections with students through listening: “knowing that I made that much of an impact in
such a small time… keeps me going and loving to work with at-risk youth.”
For many of the teacher candidates, this was a first experience working with at-risk youth
and it broadened their awareness of “working with different kinds of students, different types of
learners” (Bruce). It was eye-opening for Richard that at-risk youth were “so close to home”,
and he noted that “when we think about poorer families or families that are not well off, we do
not think of [our neighbourhood]”. Appreciating the variety of learners in a class, and how
“every single one of these individuals is different” (Bruce) impacted how some of the teacher
candidates tried to forge relationships with the students, though for the most part they saw the
students as “no different than any of [their] practicum students” (Bruce). A tension arose
between Bruce’s recognition of the students as “a high-needs group” with different needs and a
desire to apply “a universal kind of approach”. While Bruce acknowledged that “of course you
have to adjust” and that “there is (sic) underlying things, and there’s history or whatever” he
nevertheless felt that “it’s very similar in the overall management of how I would manage them”.
As mentioned previously, teacher candidates were not overly concerned with meeting students
IEPs and it is possible that this contributed to the perspective that “how and what you want the
students to get out of it [the learning] should be the same” (Bruce). Underlying these tensions
was a belief of Bruce’s that it was important for all students to experience the “important skills
of today’s education” which are available through a makerspace environment and which are
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Maker pedagogies offer numerous potential benefits for student learning; however, we currently lack an understanding of the ways in which educators integrate these pedagogies into regular practice. This qualitative study examines the professional learning and trajectory of two educators involved in makerspace initiatives at their respective schools in lower-income communities. Through thematic analysis of interviews, photos, videos, and field notes, we identified several overlapping characteristics supporting teachers’ transition into maker educators, including identification with maker values, proficiency with interdisciplinary program planning, and access to a multidimensional maker culture. Recognizing these intersecting characteristics can enable schools to provide essential support systems for prospective maker educators.
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Bullying is becoming an ever more pressing issue for schools, daycare centers, politicians and the public. Everyone agrees that bullying is a serious problem and initiatives are urgently called for to stamp it out. This Campbell Systematic Review studied the effects of anti‐bullying programs in schools. The conclusion is that programs generally work and bullying is reduced on average by around 20%. A total of 89 reports were of sufficient quality to be included in the systematic review. The 89 reports describe 53 different studies. However, nine studies did not provide enough data to allow the calculation of an effect size and were, therefore, not included in the final meta‐analysis. The overall analysis is therefore based on a total of 44 studies. The 44 different studies were carried out between 1983 and mid‐2009 and came from 16 different countries. The included studies were either randomized controlled trials, quasi‐randomized trials, age‐cohort studies or other controlled studies. Furthermore, the systematic review clearly states that future evaluations should measure the children's situation before and after an anti‐bullying program. This should apply to the experimental group as well as the control group to get the most accurate results possible. Executive Summary/Abstract BACKGROUND School bullying has serious short‐term and long‐term effects on children's physical and mental health. Various anti‐bullying programs have been implemented world wide and, more rarely, evaluated. Previous narrative reviews, summarizing the work done on bullying prevention, as well as previous meta‐analyses of anti‐bullying programs, are limited. The definition of school bullying includes several key elements: physical, verbal, or psychological attack or intimidation that is intended to cause fear, distress, or harm to the victim; an imbalance of power (psychological or physical), with a more powerful child (or children) oppressing less powerful ones; and repeated incidents between the same children over a prolonged period. School bullying can occur in school or on the way to or from school. It is not bullying when two persons of the same strength (physical, psychological, or verbal) victimize each other. OBJECTIVES This report presents a systematic review and meta‐analysis of the effectiveness of programs designed to reduce school bullying perpetration and victimization (i.e. being bullied). The authors indicate the pitfalls of previous reviews and explain in detail how the present systematic review and meta‐analysis addresses the gaps in the existing literature on bullying prevention. SEARCH STRATEGY In the present report, we go beyond previous reviews by: doing much more extensive searches for evaluations such as hand‐searching all volumes of 35 journals from 1983 up to the end of May 2009; searching for international evaluations in 18 electronic databases and in languages other than English; and focusing only on programs that are specifically designed to reduce bullying and not aggressive behavior (i.e. the outcome variables specifically measure bullying). Leading researchers in the area of school bullying were also contacted via e‐mail. SELECTION CRITERIA Studies were included in this review if they evaluated the effects of an anti‐bullying program by comparing an experimental group who received the intervention with a control group who did not. The word ‘experimental’ here refers to students who received the program and does not necessarily imply randomization. Four types of research design were included: a) randomized experiments, b) experimental‐control comparisons with before and after measures of bullying, c) other experimental‐control comparisons and d) quasi‐experimental age‐cohort designs, where students of age X after the intervention were compared with students of the same age X in the same school before the intervention. Both published and unpublished (e.g. PhD theses) reports were included. Reports concerning an evaluation of a program had to clearly indicate that bullying or victimization were included as outcome measures. Bullying and victimization could be measured using self‐report questionnaires, peer ratings, teacher ratings, or observational data. RESULTS We found a total of 622 reports that were concerned with bullying prevention. The number of reports on anti‐bullying programs and on the necessity of tackling bullying has increased considerably over time. Only 89 of these reports (describing 53 different program evaluations) could be included in our review. Of the 53 different program evaluations, only 44 provided data that permitted the calculation of an effect size for bullying or victimization. Our meta‐analysis of these 44 evaluations showed that, overall, school‐based anti‐bullying programs are effective in reducing bullying and victimization (being bullied). On average, bullying decreased by 20% – 23% and victimization decreased by 17% – 20%. The effects were generally highest in the age‐cohort designs and lowest in the randomized experiments. It was not clear, however, that the randomized experiments were methodologically superior in all cases, because sometimes a very small number of schools (between three and seven) were randomly assigned to conditions, and because of other methodological problems such as differential attrition. Various program elements and intervention components were associated with a decrease in both bullying and victimization. Work with peers was associated with an increase in victimization. We received feedback from researchers about our coding of 40 out of 44 programs. Analyses of publication bias show that the observed effect sizes (for both bullying and victimization) were based on an unbiased set of studies. AUTHORS’ CONCLUSIONS Results obtained so far in evaluations of anti‐bullying programs are encouraging. The time is ripe to mount a new long‐term research strategy on the effectiveness of these programs, based on our findings. The main policy implication of our review is that new anti‐bullying programs should be designed and tested based on the key program elements and evaluation components that we have found to be most effective. We recommend that a system of accrediting anti‐bullying programs should be developed, supervised by an international body such as the International Observatory on Violence in Schools.
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In this essay, Erica Halverson and Kimberly Sheridan provide the context for research on the maker movement as they consider the emerging role of making in education. The authors describe the theoretical roots of the movement and draw connections to related research on formal and informal education. They present points of tension between making and formal education practices as they come into contact with one another, exploring whether the newness attributed to the maker movement is really all that new and reflecting on its potential pedagogical impacts on teaching and learning.
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In this article, Jennifer Groff explores the role of the arts in education through the lens of current research in cognitive neuroscience and the impact of technology in today's digital world. She explains that although arts education has largely used multiple intelligences theory to substantiate its presence in classrooms and schools, this relationship has ultimately hindered the field of arts education's understanding of the relationship between the arts, human development, and learning. Emerging research on the brain's cognitive processing systems has led Groff to put forth a new theory of mind, whole-mindedness. Here she presents the evidence and construct for this frame of mind, how it sits in relation to multiple intelligences theory, and how it might redefine the justification for arts education in schools, particularly in our digitally and visually rich world.
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This article examines the practice of electronics building in the context of other crafts. We compare the experience of making electronics with the experiences of carving, sewing, and painting. Our investigation is grounded in a survey of 40 practicing craftspeople who are working in each of these disciplines. We then use this survey as a foundation for a discussion of hybrid craft—integrations of electronics with carving, sewing, and painting. We present examples of hybrid craft and discuss the ways in which blended practices can enrich and diversify technology.
Conference Paper
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The field of computational textiles has shown promise as a domain for diversifying computer science culture by drawing a population with broad and non-traditional interests and backgrounds into creating technology. In this paper, we present a curriculum that teaches computer science and computer programming through a series of activities that involve building and programming computational textiles. We also describe two new technological tools, Modkit and the LilyPad ProtoSnap board, that support implementation of the curriculum. In 2011-12, we conducted three workshops to evaluate the impact of our curriculum and tools on students' technological self-efficacy. We conclude that our curriculum both draws a diverse population, and increases students' comfort with, enjoyment of, and interest in working with electronics and programming.
In this qualitative case study, we share findings on the link between a critical digital literacies pedagogy and the use of young adult novels, literature circles and various digital tools to develop students’ traditional and digital literacy skills. More specifically, our study investigated (1) the relationship between digital media and adolescents’ understanding of various issues, while immersed in using digital media; (2) how a critical digital literacies approach can shape what students learn and how they view themselves and their roles in their community; (3) how a critical digital literacies approach through participatory dialogue encourages students to challenge their assumptions about democracy, while at the same time promoting meaningful literacy engagements, and (4) how the public performances of students’ digital texts reshape the relationship between educational stakeholders and the wider community.