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Makerspaces Promoting Students’ Design Thinking and Collective Knowledge Creation: Examples from Canada and Finland



Despite the growing popularity of makerspaces in education, we currently have little understanding of the conditions and processes that promote students’ design thinking and knowledge creation in these digitally-enriched learning environments. To address these research gaps in current research knowledge, we draw on two ethnographic case studies on students’ maker activities situated in Canada and Finland. In the Canadian study, the focus is directed to analysing students’ design actions carried out in a five day long “microcycle” of learning by individual students in a Maker Lab. In the Finnish study, attention is directed to investigating forms of students’ collective knowledge creation during an elective course in a makerspace, The Fuse Studio. This paper shows that design thinking is a potentially fruitful way to build students’ global competencies and to approach knowledge creation in a makerspace environment as students engage in interest-driven making, requiring various levels of instructor/peer support, from independent making to guided inquiry.
Please cite: Hughes, J. M., Morrison, L. J., Kajamaa, A. & Kum-
pulainen, K. (2019). Makerspaces promoting students’ design thinking
and collective knowledge creation: Examples from Canada and Fin-
land. In A. Brooks, E. Brooks & C. Sylla (Eds.), Interactivity, Game
Creation, Design, Learning, and Innovation (pp. 343-352). 7th EAI In-
ternational Conference, ArtsIT 2018, and 3rd EAI International Confer-
ence, DLI 2018, ICTCC 2018, Braga, Portugal, October 2426, 2018,
Proceedings. Springer International Publishing: Cham, Switzerland.
Makerspaces promoting students’ design thinking and
collective knowledge creation: Examples from Canada
and Finland
Dr. Janette Hughes[1] Laura Morrison[1] and Anu
Kajamaa[2] Kristiina Kumpulainen[2]
1 University of Ontario Institute of Technology, Faculty of Education, 11 Simcoe Street North,
Oshawa ON L1H7L7, CA,
2 University of Helsinki, Faculty of Educational Sciences, P.O.Box 9, 00014 Helsinki, Finland,
Abstract. Despite the growing popularity of makerspaces in education, we cur-
rently have little understanding of the conditions and processes that promote stu-
dents’ design thinking and knowledge creation in these digitally-enriched learn-
ing environments. To address these research gaps in current research knowledge,
we draw on two ethnographic case studies on students’ maker activities situated
in Canada and Finland. In the Canadian study, the focus is directed to analysing
students’ design actions carried out in a five day long “microcycle” of learning
by individual students in a Maker Lab. In the Finnish study, attention is directed
to investigating forms of students’ collective knowledge creation during an elec-
tive course in a makerspace, The Fuse Studio. This paper shows that design think-
ing is a potentially fruitful way to build students’ global competencies and to
approach knowledge creation in a makerspace environment as students engage
in interest-driven making, requiring various levels of instructor/peer support,
from independent making to guided inquiry.
Keywords: Makerspaces, Design Thinking, Knowledge Creation, Digital Learn-
ing Environment
1. Introduction
Makerspaces are collaborative and creative spaces where people come together to hack,
build, innovate and ultimately, to learn either formally or informally. Maker peda-
gogies are generally associated with STEM or STEAM (where the Arts are integrated
into Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) education; however, making is in-
herently interdisciplinary, hands-on, inquiry-based, and driven by student interests and
passion. Educators in Canada and Finland are now increasingly harnessing mak-
erspaces as learning environments to promote inquiry, imagination, creativity, curios-
ity, and perseverance in STEAM learning and beyond. Most notably, making is con-
sidered to promote the development of important global competencies and transferable
skills, such as creative and critical thinking, problem solving, collaboration, leadership,
and innovation.
Despite the growing popularity of makerspaces in education (Honey and
Kanter, 2013; Kumpulainen, 2017), we have currently little understanding of the con-
ditions and processes that promote students’ design thinking and knowledge creation
in these novel digitally-enriched learning environments. Furthermore, what accounts
as a makerspace in formal education deserves further attention. In this paper, we ad-
dress these gaps in research knowledge by introducing and combining, in a novel
way, two theoretical lenses, namely design thinking and knowledge creation in the
study of makerspaces in Canada and Finland. The makerspaces in the two research
sites are largely similar. Yet, the pedagogical approaches of the making and design
activities in these two research sites are slightly different: The Canadian Maker Lab
emphasizes design thinking, a fluid and non-linear methodology that typically in-
volves tackling complex problems in local and global communities. Using design
thinking, learners are considered to be able to exercise their agency to define real
world problems that they are passionate about by first empathizing and trying to un-
derstand the human needs involved. They brainstorm to generate multiple solutions
and begin to prototype and test their solutions. The Finnish site underscores students’
interest-driven engagement in STEAM design challenges that are introduced to them
in a digital infrastructure for learning, The FUSE Studio. The STEAM challenges of
the FUSE Studio (named Keychain Customiser, Electric Apparel, Coaster Boss and
Solar Roller etc.) that students can choose from have been structured to introduce stu-
dents with new ideas and to support them through more complex iterations of those
ideas. The challenges ‘level up’ in difficulty like video games and are accompanied
by various tools, such as computers, 3D printers and other materials (e.g., foam rub-
ber, a marble, tape and scissors, which we refer to as “artifacts”), as well as instruc-
tions on how to process the challenges (Stevens & Jona, 2017).
In sum, our paper addresses the following research questions:
How does a theoretical design challenge support students in the design pro-
cess of their own personal passion project? What specific global skills and
competencies are developed in the theoretical challenge and in the personal
passion project?
How do students engage in collective knowledge creation through STEAM
design challenges?
2. Theoretical Framework
The theoretical framing of our work is informed by design thinking (Doppelt, 2009;
Kafai & Peppler, 2011; Gobble, 2014) and knowledge creation approaches (Paavola,
Lipponen & Hakkarainen, 2004; Kajamaa, Kumpulainen & Rajala, forthcoming). We
consider these two approaches useful as they represent the core elements entailed in
makerspaces and making.
2.1 Design Thinking
Social demands for certain skill sets are changing and with the implementation of
maker pedagogies, students are given the opportunity to develop those foundational
skills that are necessary for success. Design disciplines are those which provide open-
ended ways that students can approach problem solving through authentic, real world
applications (Kafai & Peppler, 2011). Makerspaces are rooted in design disciplines,
so they align with the concept of problem solving through open-ended approaches to
create unique learning opportunities for students. It is in these opportunities that the
skillsets necessary for success are developed.
Over the years, as our society has evolved from one of consumer to one of
creators in many aspects, the concept of design thinking has emerged as a critical as-
pect of our everyday lives (Gobble, 2014). Many people align design thinking with
the aesthetics of something, however in reality it encompasses much more than just
how something looks (Gobble, 2014). Different models that are used in design think-
ing utilize different tools and frameworks as vehicles to create a more human centred
approach to problem solving (Gobble, 2014; Brown, 2009; Cahn et al., 2016). Creat-
ing authentic applications of real world situations elicits design thinking, which pro-
motes collaboration and communication, as well as empathy and citizenship, which
are commonly used in real-world problem solving.
2.2 Knowledge Creation
In makerspaces, based on the principles of design thinking students are encouraged to
make their knowledge explicit in their innovation processes by constructing novel so-
lutions to the challenges and problems in question. Knowledge creation takes place in
the social activity of students and teachers and it is a crucial process for students’
learning and knowledge advancement (Engeström, 1999; Engeström, Engeström &
Suntio, 2003; Paavola et al., 2004; Kajamaa, Kumpulainen & Rajala, forthcoming).
Knowledge creation is mediated by various tools embedded in the activity. These
tools can entail both conceptual (signs, language) and material artefacts (Vygotsky,
1978). Similarly, the results of knowledge creation processes are often tangible ob-
jects (e.g. creation of an artefact or a completion of a challenge presented on a com-
puter screen), but they may also result in “conceptual artifacts" (Wartofsky, 1979;
Engeström, 1999; Paavola et al., 2004; Kajamaa, Kumpulainen & Rajala, forthcom-
Our previous study shows that in a makerspace context, knowledge creation
may take place in different, and often intertwined forms (vertical knowledge main-
taining). It can also manifest as students making their own initiatives to creatively
break away from the given situation and instructions (horizontal knowledge break-
ing). In some cases, it may evolve into an innovative process where the student
groups and sometimes also students together with their teachers collectively challenge
and question one another and the existing knowledge to co-create future-oriented
learning activity (knowledge expansion) (Kajamaa, Kumpulainen & Rajala, forthcom-
3. Methodology
To answer our research questions, we used two approaches. To analyze the data from
the Canadian context, we used a design-based research (DBR) approach that focused
on the design thinking processes of individual students (Barab & Squire, 2004). To
analyze the data from the Finnish context we applied a new framework developed by
Kajamaa, Kumpulainen and Rajala (forthcoming) for the study of different forms of
knowledge creation in technologically enhanced makerspaces.
3.1 Setting
In Canada and Finland, the research took place in STEAM-focused makerspaces
[links will be added]. In Canada, the makerspace was situated in the Faculty of Edu-
cation at [university name] and in Finland the makerspace was both online and in a
city-run comprehensive school with 535 students and 28 teachers at the primary level.
In 2016, as a response to the new curriculum requirements, the school introduced the
FUSE Studio ( - a design and making environment - as one of its
elective courses. The Canadian Maker Lab was established to conduct research into
production pedagogies in general, and maker pedagogies in particular.
3.2 Participants
At the Canadian site, the researchers worked with a group of fifteen students ranging
in age between 7 and 14 years old. Eight of the students were male and seven were fe-
male - 11 of whom had no identified exceptionalities and four of whom had excep-
tionalities that included giftedness, anxiety, ADHD, ASD and other learning chal-
lenges. 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
participated in a March Break Camp to spend five full days using the design thinking
process to work on a personal project in the Maker Lab.
In the Finnish site, the research focused on 94 students aged between 9 and
12 years old. Due to the elective nature of the FUSE course, the groups consisted of
students from several classes. Group 1 consisted of 32 students (22 boys and 10 girls),
Group 2 consisted of 30 students (19 boys and 11 girls) and Group 3 consisted of 32
students (19 boys and 13 girls). Each group was supported by two to four teachers and
teaching assistants.
3.3 Research Design
In Canada, the design process was used in two ways during the March Break Camp --
first, it was used in a daily theoretical exercise with the students (responding to the
challenges of training a new puppy) and second, it was used to frame the participants’
week-long design project. At the Ontario site we adhered to the following cyclical
five-stage design framework adapted from the Engineering is Elementary website
(Museum of Science, Boston):
Fig. 1. The Design Framework used at the Ontario site.
The framework included: 1. Ask (what is a personal project or problem that needs to
be solved); 2. Imagine (what already exists that could solve this problem or could be
hacked or re-mixed to better respond to the problem); 3. Plan (what resources are
needed, what steps will be involved in realizing the end product); 4. Create (a proto-
type of the product for testing with others); 5. Improve (what worked, what could
have been improved). Each day of the camp was devoted to a different (and sequen-
tial) stage of this design process
In Finland, we investigated students maker activities in a novel “mak-
erspace”, the FUSE Studio a digital learning environment focused on enhancing
student- and interest-driven science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics
(STEAM) learning. In the FUSE Studio, students were free to select which ‘chal-
lenges’ to pursue, who with (or alone) and when to move on. The core idea was to
promote young learners’ STEAM learning and to cultivate STEAM ideas and prac-
tices among those who are not already affiliated with them, and by so doing broaden-
ing the access to participation in STEAM learning (Stevens & Jona, 2017). Figure 2
shows a student interface (view) of the FUSE challenges on a computer screen.
Fig. 2. ‘My Challenges’ student interface
3.4 Data Collection and Analysis
In Canada, the study began with a pre-project survey as a base marker of the students’
beliefs about making. We asked students whether they considered themselves “makers”
and what kind of making they engaged in at school. We also asked the students whether
they were given opportunities to do “passion-based” (interest driven) making. Through-
out the project, the researchers recorded detailed field notes, collected the students’
planning notes and reflections, photographs, still images/video recordings of their de-
sign thinking processes, whole group conversations, and individual exit interviews. The
researchers also engaged in informal discussions with the students, of which notewor-
thy comments, themes, ideas or feedback were recorded through text or voice recorder.
This type of open-ended data was collected with the objective of developing common
themes (Creswell, 2004).
In analyzing the Canadian data, we drew on content analysis (Berg, 2007)
and as we combed through the various data sources in our first reading, we looked for
emergent codes. On the second reading, we looked for patterns and grouped similar
codes into categories. On the third reading, we narrowed our focus to examine how
design thinking led to the development of a series of global competencies, and in this
paper, we specifically focus on problem solving.
In Finland, the primary data was comprised of 111 hours of transcribed
video recordings and field notes of students (N = 94) aged between 9 and 12 years old
and their teachers carrying out making and design activities in the FUSE Studio. The
video recordings were collected intermittently over a period of one academic year.
The video data and field notes were transcribed and analyzed using interac-
tion analysis methods (Jordan & Henderson, 1995). Our analytic approach can be de-
fined as abductive, involving repeated iterations between theory and data. Our analy-
sis was based on Kajamaa, Kumpulainen and Rajala (forthcoming) framework of the
different forms of students’ knowledge creation. We inductively analyzed the discur-
sive acts from the students’ and teachers’ talk, depicting forms of knowledge creation.
4 Findings
4.1 Individual students design thinking in the Maker Lab
Framing the Passion Projects Through Focused Problem-Solving. To help partici-
pants develop the problem-solving skills they would need during the creation of their
passion projects over the course of the week, they were guided through focused and
intentional problem-solving activities each day of camp. The challenges were themat-
ically centered around the training of a new puppy and required participants to think
creatively and to persevere in finding solutions to their puppy training problems. As
the students worked through their first ‘puppy challenge’, they were stretched to con-
ceive of realistic and humane ways to train their new puppy. Beginning ideas included
low-tech and easy to implement, yet impractical, solutions such as building a box in
which the puppy would live and relieve him/herself, thus removing the issue of fo-
cused training altogether. Other solutions included the use of more elaborate, futuris-
tic technology. One participant designed a jet-pack for the puppy that would sense
when s/he needed to relieve him/herself and would fly the puppy to a designated area
of the backyard. While this idea was certainly more creative and innovative, it was
again less practical and raised ethical issues, such as animal cruelty. As the group
shared their working solutions (drawing on collaboration and communication skills),
discussion arose surrounding the well-being of the dog in at least a few of the scenar-
ios. One boy raised the question, “which [of these] could put a lot of strain on the
dog?” He pointed to the jet-pack example and explained that this would put “a lot of
strain on his organs”. So, this was identified at the beginning of the week as an area
for development and improvement. While most of the ideas theoretically provided a
solution to the problem posed, they each required feedback, reflection and revision to
generate viable solutions. Each day, a new challenge connected to training the puppy
was introduced and encouraged the campers to continue to use the design process in
order to refine their solutions. As a result, the students’ problem-solving skills were
developed by drawing on some of the other global competencies such as collaboration
(i.e. asking peers for assistance in their making process and input in their designs and
final products), perseverance (i.e. continuing to troubleshoot and problem-solve when
faced with technological and/or design challenges), empathy/citizenship (ie. in the de-
velopment of an artefact in response to real-world or imagined problems) and creativ-
ity (i.e. in their innovative/unique solutions).
Problem-Solving in the Design Process. As they worked through the stages of their
designs, each camper was forced to pause at crucial moments to consider the feasibil-
ity of their designs and how they might need to reconsider and refine their choices of
direction or materials (similar to the theoretical puppy training challenge). One pair
that was working together on Harry Potter wands as their passion projects (the main
design projects separate from the theoretical puppy-training design challenges posed
each day) decided they wanted to create wands that light up at the tip when they cast
their spell. They planned out their week and articulated the steps they would take to
achieve their end goal (verbally and in their design planning notebooks). Continuing
on in their design process, they used sewing and Lilypad - a codable E-textile tool - to
create a prototype of their wands. To complete their prototypes, they were required to
learn about circuitry and a traditional skill that many find frustrating - sewing. To
complete this task, both students went through a number of problem solving tasks,
from learning how to thread a needle to how to wire the circuit to ensure that it
worked the way they wanted. This process was not easy for the pair and they encoun-
tered many challenges along the way; however, with support from one another, lead-
ers and other campers, they persevered and succeeded in this portion of their project.
Following their prototype creation, the pair were required to modify their de-
sign multiple times, adapting their prototypes each time. The problem-solving aspect
of the design process became very evident at this point in the project as the duo used
TinkerCAD to create the 3D model file of each of their wands. It was quite simple
creating the wand shape; however, when they realized that they had to make the in-
side hollow, they ran into the problem of how to make sure there was enough space
inside the wand to fit all of the wiring. The most challenging aspect of the project for
them was creating the circuits and although they became frustrated and were close to
quitting, through collaboration, patience and hard work, they were able to add the illu-
mination element to their wands.
4.2 Students’ collective knowledge creation in the FUSE Studio
Our analysis of the students’ knowledge creation processes in the FUSE Studio re-
vealed the dynamic interplay of three forms of knowledge creation: Namely, vertical
knowledge maintaining, horizontal knowledge breaking and knowledge expansion.
Below, we illuminate one example of the dynamic interplay of these three forms of
knowledge creation.
The vignette shown below highlights the exchange between two students and
their teacher during the FUSE challenge titled, “Keychain customizer”. During this
exchange, the boys about to save their work on the computer programme are
approached by the teacher to check in. Although the boys express that they want to
design their artefact in such a way that it could hang the right way up, the teacher ex-
plains to the boys that it would be better to hang it upside down. The teacher also tells
them how thick or thin to make the ring. The students then question the teacher by at-
taching the ring to the top of the letters, nevertheless. Despite this effort, the teacher
overrides the students’ perceptions on what a ‘nice’ keychain would look like and
how it should be hung (pseudonyms are given to the students in the excerpts):
Teacher: I think that this ring is too weakly attached to the letter I. It’s too much on
the edge.
Eetu (student): But Onni (student) said it was ok.
Onni: But isn’t this ok?
Teacher: I would like it to be a lot more firmly attached. I would, in fact, attach it (the
ring) to the letters (referring to their initials) and probably from the bottom maybe.
Eetu: But then this name would be upside down.
Teacher: Then it would hang from the bottom, but the keychain is not always hanging
from somewhere.
The student attaches the ring to the top of the letters nevertheless.
Teacher: And I would also use the “tube” tool to make it thinner.
Eetu: It’s already as small as it can be.
Teacher: No it’s not. Carefully adjust it so that it can be used as a keychain (student
uses the tool). Now that’s better than the previous one (student keeps adjusting) Not
that narrow, that’s as it doesn’t exist at all. It’s not firm enough so that it will hold.
In this example, the students were enthusiastically focused on their joint activity of
designing keychains and made active use of the artefacts available in the FUSE Stu-
dio. The students’ attempted to use their agency and knowledge in their making activ-
ity: the activity was initiated by a FUSE challenge, but the students started to follow
their own ideas and ways of working. We interpreted this as horizontal knowledge
breaking, as it provided evidence of the students’ breaking away and expanding their
activity from traditional schooling towards design and creativity. The student-driven
activity was then interrupted by the well-framed instructions given to them by the
teacher. The teacher disregarded the student’s initiative. This tension could have po-
tentially triggered opportunities for knowledge expansion, if the teachers and the stu-
dents had started to negotiate and make attempts to create collective solutions to
guide their future actions.
5. Discussion and Conclusions
In this study, we investigated students’ design thinking and forms of knowledge crea-
tion in two educational makerspaces in Finland and in Canada. In terms of design
thinking, the Canadian case revealed that the makerspace is a space where students
can develop global competencies such as problem-solving, collaboration, empathy
and communication. Both of the studied makerspaces provided useful material condi-
tions supporting students’ design thinking and knowledge creation. They provided the
students with a rich variety of digital tools and more traditional (craft) materials that
the students actively, and often creatively, utilized within these contexts.
In the Canadian Maker Lab, design thinking was introduced through the en-
gineering design process framework (adapted from the Engineering is Elementary
website). In the findings section we presented an example of the theoretical puppy
training challenge the participants engaged with at the beginning of each design day.
The competencies developed through this challenge supported the students in their
own, personal design projects. The theoretical challenge also assisted them in consid-
ering the real-world application and/or practicality of some of the components of their
designs. In the findings, we also discussed some of the skills the students developed
and the challenges the students encountered in their personal projects which ranged
from learning and debugging the technology (i.e. constructing circuits) to engaging in
iterative attempts to add to and improve their final products (i.e. the Harry Potter
The FUSE Studio in the Finnish context included a unique design and mak-
ing infrastructure and a social context, which enhanced different forms of the stu-
dents’ collective knowledge creation. Overall, in our data, the students’ strict follow-
ing of the structures and instructions given by the FUSE computer program and the
facilitating teachers (i.e. knowledge maintaining) dominated the design and making
activity. Yet, relatively often, the students exercised horizontal knowledge breaking
and used their own initiatives to break away from the situation creatively. Sometimes
this created tensions as the students questioned the customary ways of making and de-
signing. The challenging and questioning of the existing knowledge led in some rare
cases to knowledge expansion where groups of students, sometimes also with their
teachers, encountered the tensions, negotiated, and thereafter co-configured novel, fu-
ture-oriented learning activities. In the Finnish context, the flexible intertwining of the
multiple forms of knowledge creation is a current pedagogical challenge for educators
and conscious efforts are needed to improve the processes and conditions giving rise
to qualitative different forms of knowledge creation in the students’ maker activities.
Our analysis provides novel findings also in connecting design thinking to
the theoretical notion of knowledge creation. Our research shows that the main differ-
ence between these approaches relates to the initial level of agency of the students in
determining what kinds of making they will engage in. However, these approaches
also importantly add to one another as teachers grapple to understand what kinds of
pedagogical supports to provide students during the design/making process. In both
cases, the participants were given varying levels of guided inquiry support from oth-
ers, both instructors and peers.
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... The maker movement emphasizes the pedagogical value of problem finding and problem solving, and the power of social learning through sharing and collaborative work . The work and projects undertaken in makerspaces are often characterized by collective knowledge creation (Hughes et al., 2019) and collective creativity (Sannino and Ellis, 2014). Furthermore, making encourages intellectual risk taking through iteration, drafts and failed attempts leading students to value learning as a process (Vossoughi and Bevan, 2014). ...
... In that way they acted as change-agents and forward-looking activists (Stetsenko, 2018). Collaboration and substantial knowledge building (Hughes et al., 2019) could be seen to release a collective creativity (Sannino andEllis, 2014: Stetsenko, 2018) that produced various resources and achievements. ...
Full-text available
This paper presents findings from a collective case study focusing on the efforts of a grassroots team of seven pioneering women: teachers, IT consultants, and tech enthusiasts. The team was formed to introduce, encourage, and establish makerspaces in the Icelandic compulsory school system by educating and supporting teachers and young students (6–15 years) as makers and advocates of maker culture. All seven team members have developed or supported different models of makerspaces in their area of work and offered guidance to other educators. Our research examines learning on a personal, relational, and institutional level, reviewing values and practices of participants and what characterizes their social interactions, agency and empowerment in relation to making. It introduces new models of pedagogy, often supported by school leadership and social media action facilitating the development of making and maker culture. It attempts to map how makerspaces can be integrated into school practice in alignment with curricular objectives to support diverse engagements, digital literacies and creative design skills. Our findings further reveal how an all-women team has taken agency and through collaborative actions, collective creativity and self-empowerment managed to overcome challenges and provide leadership in this emergent field in Icelandic school practice.
... The results of this research showed a significant improvement in their academic performance, motivation and collaboration skills. Hughes et al. (2019) in another research focused again on a similar group of students with the same characteristics and proved that those students can develop problem-solving, collaboration, empathy and communication skills through Making. Moreover, Barton et al. (2017) found that Latino and Afro-American students can be easily engaged in a makerspace environment. ...
Purpose: The purpose of this study is to review the use of makerspaces for educational purposes by building a map that describes recent research in the field under investigation. Design/methodology/approach: The approach adopted in this research includes a systematic review of the literature, based on publications (from 2017 to 2019) through Google Scholar. The development of a coding scheme performed through the Card Sorting technique. Findings: Findings demonstrate that the use of makerspaces in educational contexts can support 21st-century skills; however, further research is sought on the application of makerspaces in formal education. Originality/value: This paper will be useful for researchers interested in constructionism educational methods in conjunction with technology. It can also help in identifying gaps in the literature of educational makerspaces by giving a clear picture of the under-investigated areas.
... (3) a focus on STEM ideas and practices with a move towards STEAM, including artistic and design considerations in the criteria by which challenges are posed and judged; and (4) a core focus on cultivating interest in STEM ideas and practices among those who are not already affiliated with them, thereby aiming to broaden access to participation in STEM learning (Stevens & Jona, 2017). The FUSE Studio model differs from more open-ended makerspaces in which students are not typically offered choices of specific design challenges; rather, the work rests on the principles of design thinking, which dictate that the design is led by the identified needs of the context and/or community in question (Hughes, Morrison, Kajamaa, & Kumpulainen, 2019). Therefore, the results gained from our research need to be situated within the specific affordances and constraints of the FUSE Studio. ...
... Hughes et al., (2019) reaffirm this in their study "Makerspaces Promoting Students' DesignThinking and Collective Knowledge Creation: Examples from Canada and Finland" where they found out that when used in makerspaces, design thinking can help build students' ...
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Makerspaces are creation spaces, equipped with digital fabrication tools and equipment for use by makers. Access to these expensive tools and networks has made makerspaces popular globally. Internationally, universities have acknowledged the significance of makerspaces in academic spaces and introduced them to the university community. The University of Nairobi hosts the UoN makerspace, located at the College of Agriculture and Veterinary Sciences, Upper Kabete campus. The makerspace is meant to give students access to fabrication tools to enhance learning through a hands-on approach and inspire multidisciplinary collaboration. Despite the rapid growth of makerspaces as open spaces for creativity, innovation, and experiential learning, the role makers play in makerspaces remains unknown. While the need for makerspaces in academia has been well studied, there is limited knowledge of the makers who use the makerspaces. To remedy this gap, the researcher conducted an exploratory study on the makers and their experience in makerspaces. The researcher provides a detailed context and knowledge on Makerspaces, makers, methods, tools, and spaces using a case study of the UoN Makerspace, triangulated with secondary data from other academic makerspaces. The literature review explores the Maker Movement; its history, benefits, and opportunities. The influence of Makerspaces in areas of higher learning is also explored in depth. This qualitative study used exploratory research and participatory design through a process of co-design. Data were collected through observation, key informant interviews, a focused group discussion with UoN Makerspace makers and co-design through an HCD Design Sprint to redesign the "Retr3D Printer". The contribution of this research is both empirical and theoretical. Empirically, the researcher provided an in-depth review of academic makerspaces, maps the makers and engagement process in makerspaces, looked at the making process in makerspaces using Human Centred Design (HCD) then proposes an appropriate model for centring makers in academic makerspaces. The maker was found to be the most important “component” of any makerspace, with the students being the majority makers in the UoN makerspace and other higher education makerspaces in general. It was established that although makers are core to the makerspace, very little attention is given to them. Although collaboration and creativity are key in makerspaces, the UoN Makerspace was engineering-focused with very little collaboration with other members of other disciplines. The research noted a gap in awareness; members from other faculties were not aware of the UoN Makerspace let alone how they could use the facility. The making process was also a challenge to new makers accessing the facility for the first time. The typical making process was too technical (engineering design process), making it hard for non-technical users to use it. There were also concerns about the alternative design thinking processes being time-consuming. The researcher proposed an "HCD Design Sprint" that was quicker and incorporated multidisciplinary teams and used it to create a 3D printer in 4 days. Theoretically, this research paves the way for an in-depth understanding of makers and their experience in Makerspaces.
... Hence, the results of our study need to be situated in this context. Earlier research has pointed out how makerspaces can differ in their organization, content, activities, pedagogical design, and goals, availability, and the distribution of materials and resources (Peppler et al., 2016;Hughes et al., 2019;Blum-Ross et al., 2020). For this reason, makerspaces should not be automatically understood as uniform spaces that are comparable to one another. ...
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This study investigates and maps students' maker literacies as they relate to digital competence. The study builds on sociocultural theorizing and on the scholarship of digital literacy that defines maker literacies as social practices that entail making and remaking artifacts and texts using various materials and technologies. Through a detailed multimodal analysis of video data from an ethnographic case study of students' (N:11) interaction in an elementary school's makerspace in Finland, our study presents and applies a framework of analysis for maker literacies and discusses how the school's makerspace enhanced the students' digital competence across operational, cultural, and critical dimensions. The study shows how the makerspace context afforded the students ample opportunities to engage in the operational dimension of maker literacies. However, there was less engagement in cultural and critical literacies. The implications of these findings for students' digital competence in makerspaces are discussed.
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.
This chapter explores how to effectively integrate passion-based learning and design thinking into the elementary classroom. The chapter interweaves theory and scholarly literature with an example from a recent empirical study by the chapter’s authors.
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Interests in Maker Education have been increasing among K-12 educators. In this study, we focused on one of the contexts of Maker Education, digital fabrication activities, at a makerspace in Finland. We aimed to explore: 1) the potentials and the factors to develop twenty-first century skills and computational thinking practices through digital fabrication activities, and 2) challenges of utilizing digital fabrication in K-12 Maker Education. We examined perspectives of teachers and facilitators who have roles to support pupils in Maker Education. We presented three cases of school visits (3-5 days), where the pupils (7th-9th grades) created tangible artefacts with digital fabrication facilities at the makerspace. We collected data through participants’ observation, informal interviews and focus group interviews with teachers and facilitators. For data analysis, we employed theory-driven and data-driven approaches. The results showed that digital fabrication activities can provide learning opportunities for twenty-first century skills and computational thinking practices. The teachers and the facilitators discussed the six factors of digital fabrication activities which influenced pupils’ learning. However, the result also indicated the possibility that the teachers and the facilitators might not be familiar with the concepts of computational thinking. Also, different perspectives between the teachers and the facilitators towards the structure of the current activities surfaced. By identifying potentials and challenges of the current practices, the study has implications to advance Maker Education to be better integrated into K-12 school contexts.
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This study investigates the sociomaterial movements of student engagement in a school's makerspace. Here, we understand sociomaterial movements as emergent and relational, comprising complex dynamics of agency across students, teachers and materials in situated, culturally framed activities. Our study draws on data comprising 85 hours of video recordings of 9–12‐year‐old students' (N = 94) engagement in a technology‐rich makerspace in a Finnish elementary school. The video data were transcribed and analyzed qualitatively using a multimodal interaction analysis. The sociomaterial movements were found to be displayed across a tension‐laden continuum between (1) procedural activity—analysis and reflection; (2) individual activity—collaboration; (3) “doing school”—empowerment; and d) alienation—identification. Together, the study offers a potential approach for investigating and understanding the often overlooked workings of sociomateriality that constitutes students' emergent engagement and learning opportunities in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEAM) learning contexts.
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Despite the growing importance and popularity of new digitally enhanced making and design environments, students' knowledge creation is still a fairly unexplored issue within these contexts. To address this research gap, we have drawn on empirical case study data from a public school that is implementing a novel making and design environment called the FUSE Studio. Our data comprise 111 hours of video records of 9-12-year-old students' (N = 94) making and design activities collected during one semester. Drawing from sociocultural and cultural-historical theorizing with a specific focus on the concepts of funds of knowledge and knowledge creation, we ask: 1) How are students' funds of knowledge manifested in the FUSE Studio? 2) How do students' funds of knowledge mediate their knowledge creation activity? "Funds of knowledge" refers to a student's multiple cultural resources that stem from their life worlds in and out of school. Our findings indicate that students' knowledge creation includes vertical knowledge maintenance, horizontal knowledge breaking, and knowledge expansion. The latter involves a tension-laden socio-materially mediated process that opens up opportunities for the creation of innovative solutions and expansion of a student's existing funds of knowledge. © 2018 Masaryk University, Faculty of Arts. All Rights Reserved.
Purpose The purpose of this paper is to address the theoretical gap between design thinking (DT) and management. DT is a strategic concept in the current business world whereas the discussion of it is still insufficient. Ambidexterity could be a promising concept to explain the benefits of DT in the realm of management and strategy. Design/methodology/approach This paper conducts a thorough literature review and theoretical analysis, and offers propositions that engage the outcome of DT and the ambidextrous learning and innovation. Findings The author suggests the connection between DT and ambidexterity. By thoroughly discussing the effect of the traits of DT on ambidexterity, the author proposes that DT can facilitate ambidextrous learning, and ambidextrous learning could mediate the relationships between DT and ambidextrous innovation. Research limitations/implications This paper offers a preliminary ground for the operationalization of it. Besides, ambidexterity could provide a lens to discuss DT with other strategic concept. Furthermore, the discussion extends understanding of the pursuit of individual ambidexterity. Practical implications This paper provides a clearer reason for managers to adopt DT. Furthermore, it might facilitate the management education in management schools to incorporate DT as a section topic, and subsequently propagate education of DT in management schools. Originality/value The paper offers a theoretical platform for the study of DT in the field of management and strategy, which was rare before. The integration of DT and ambidexterity offers a decision support to the managers. Furthermore, it serves as a new approach to obtain ambidexterity in organization, which addresses the call of the research on the micro-foundations of management.
The complex challenge of evaluating the impact of interprofessional education (IPE) on patient and community health outcomes is well documented. Recently, at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study in the United States, leaders in health professions education met to help generate a direction for future IPE evaluation research. Participants followed the stages of design thinking, a process for human-centred problem solving, to reach consensus on recommendations. The group concluded that future studies should focus on measuring an intermediate step between learning activities and patient outcomes. Specifically, knowing how IPE-prepared students and preceptors influence the organisational culture of a clinical site as well as how the culture of clinical sites influences learners' attitudes about collaborative practice will demonstrate the value of educational interventions. With a mixed methods approach and an appreciation for context, researchers will be able to identify the factors that foster effective collaborative practice and, by extension, promote patient-centred care.
The clear and practical writing of Educational Research: Planning, Conducting, and Evaluating Quantitative and Qualitative Researchhas made this book a favorite. In precise step-by-step language the book helps you learn how to conduct, read, and evaluate research studies. Key changes include: expanded coverage of ethics and new research articles.