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Funds of knowledge in making: reenvisioning
maker education in teacher preparation
Myunghwan Shin, Jane Jiyoung Lee & Frederick Peinado Nelson
To cite this article: Myunghwan Shin, Jane Jiyoung Lee & Frederick Peinado Nelson (2021):
Funds of knowledge in making: reenvisioning maker education in teacher preparation, Journal of
Research on Technology in Education, DOI: 10.1080/15391523.2021.1908868
To link to this article: https://doi.org/10.1080/15391523.2021.1908868
Published online: 14 Apr 2021.
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Funds of knowledge in making: reenvisioning maker education
in teacher preparation
, Jane Jiyoung Lee
, and Frederick Peinado Nelson
Department of Liberal Studies, California State University, Fresno, CA, USA;
CREATE for STEM Institute,
Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI, USA
Despite the growth of the Maker Movement, few studies have examined
what learning opportunities in teacher education programs facilitate pre-
service teachers’understanding of inclusive making for students from
diverse backgrounds. This study explored how preservice teachers used
their funds of knowledge for making projects in a STEM education course
and how the use of these funds of knowledge influenced their perspec-
tives on maker education. Guided by ethnographic research principles, we
analyzed qualitative data collected from 15 preservice teachers. The find-
ings show that preservice teachers used their diverse funds of knowledge
in ways that: (a) transformed making practices into personally relevant
learning activities, (b) positioned themselves as experts, (c) facilitated
mutual learning, and (d) provided a significant resource for creative ideas
in advancing making projects.
Received 25 June 2020
Revised 22 March 2021
Accepted 23 March 2021
Maker Movement; maker
education; funds of
education; inclusive making
The emergence of the Maker Movement has elicited much attention in recent years. The Maker
Movement generally refers to a new trend in which a growing number of people create products
on their own in daily life, and then share the knowledge and skills used to make these products
through physical and digital forums (Halverson & Sheridan, 2014). The recent advent of digital
fabrication tools (e.g., 3 D printers, microcontrollers, laser cutters) and maker communities (e.g.,
makerspaces, maker fairs, maker magazines) has enabled hobbyists, tinkerers, and inventors alike
to create their products easily, quickly, and affordably (Dougherty, 2013). Over the years, the
Maker Movement has been introduced in more news media, books, and research articles; the
number of people participating in the Maker Movement has also continually increased (Schad &
Jones, 2020; Peppler & Bender, 2013).
Along with the growth of the Maker Movement, educators and researchers have become highly
interested in bringing maker education to K–12 schools to enhance student engagement and
learning in the disciplines of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). The
increasing recognition of the Maker Movement’s potential to transform what and how students
learn in the STEM disciplines has led to the emergence of maker education programs in both for-
mal and informal learning environments (Vossoughi & Bevan, 2014). A growing body of research
has demonstrated that maker education enhances K–12 students’participation and sense of
belonging in STEM disciplines, supports their learning of core STEM ideas and practices, and
facilitates their development of critical thinking and collaboration skills (Bevan, 2017; Kafai et al.,
2014; Vossoughi & Bevan, 2014; Schad & Jones, 2020).
CONTACT Myunghwan Shin email@example.com Department of Liberal Studies, California State University, 5005 N.
Maple Ave. M/S ED701, Fresno, CA 93740, USA.
JOURNAL OF RESEARCH ON TECHNOLOGY IN EDUCATION
Despite the promising results obtained by prior studies on maker education, relatively little is
known about how teacher education programs support preservice teachers in learning to teach
maker education in K–12 classrooms. Only a few studies have investigated how preservice teach-
ers develop their knowledge, skills, and mindsets in teacher preparation programs to facilitate
maker education in their future classrooms. More importantly, little is known about what learn-
ing experience and support may promote prospective teachers’understanding of inclusive maker
education for students from diverse backgrounds, as well as their development of inclusive mak-
ing practices. Although learning through making has gained recent attention due to its potential
in bridging the achievement gap or interest gap in STEM among students, some scholars argue
that uncritical adoption of the current Maker Movement into the education field may re-produce
the historical inequities (Vossoughi et al., 2016; Calabrese Barton & Tan, 2018).
To bridge the literature gap, we explore how a STEM education course entitled Community-
Based Learning in STEM, which is offered by a US teacher education program, supports preser-
vice elementary teachers in learning inclusive maker education. We also aim to identify what
specific learning experiences promote the prospective teachers’development of inclusive making
practices and mindsets. Specifically, this study investigates how preservice elementary teachers
utilize their “funds of knowledge”(Moll et al., 1992, p. 133) in making projects in the course as a
primary way to engage inclusive maker education. In this study, the term “funds of knowledge”
refers to “historically accumulated and culturally developed bodies of knowledge and skills essen-
tial for household or individual functioning and well-being”(Moll et al., 1992, p. 133). We also
seek to understand how preservice elementary teachers’use of their funds of knowledge in mak-
ing, if any, influences their perspectives regarding making or maker education. The guiding
research questions are as follows:
1. How do preservice elementary teachers utilize their funds of knowledge in making?
2. How does preservice elementary teachers’application of funds of knowledge influence their
perspectives on making or maker education?
In this study, we aim to contribute to the growing area of research on maker education in
STEM teacher preparation by exploring the potential of preservice teachers’funds of knowledge
to transform the ways maker education is taught in teacher education programs. We also hope to
expand the dialogue concerning what inclusive maker education may look like in an attempt to
engage all students in making or, broadly, STEM.
In the following sections, we first describe our conceptual framework that guided this study,
followed by the research methods for data collection and analysis. We then present our findings
and discuss their significance.
The maker movement and maker education
The Maker Movement has been expanding in the US and across the world since the launch of
the magazine Make in 2005 and the hosting of the Maker Faire in 2006 near Silicon Valley,
California (Halverson & Sheridan, 2014; Peppler & Bender, 2013; Bevan, 2017). This grassroots
movement of makers, designers, and inventors has inspired a unique culture in which people
engage in making products or artifacts for playful or useful ends, after which they share their
knowledge, skills, and resources with one another through digital or physical spaces (Martin,
2015; Dougherty, 2012; Martinez & Stager, 2013). With the combination of innovative technolo-
gies and the communities of makers, more people now enjoy making, tinkering, and engineering
2 M. SHIN ET AL.
in their everyday lives, thereby challenging the traditional notion of who can be a maker and
what is considered making (Blikstein, 2013; Halverson & Sheridan, 2014).
As the Maker Movement gained momentum, a group of educators and researchers began
exploring its promise and potential in K–12 schooling and how making in education may trans-
form our understanding of what counts as learning, who learners are, and where learning envi-
ronments are found. A growing body of research on making in education indicates that making
activities (1) increase students’engagement with and learning of STEM core ideas and practices
(Bevan et al., 2015; Peppler, 2013; Martin & Dixon, 2016; Simpson et al., 2020); (2) facilitate stu-
dents’development of critical thinking, problem-solving, and collaboration skills (Peppler et al.,
2016; Martin, 2015; Kafai et al., 2014; Timotheou & Ioannou, 2021); (3) encourage students’sense
of belonging in and identification with STEM (Calabrese Barton & Tan, 2018; Buchholz et al.,
2014; Blikstein, 2013; Hachey et al., 2021); and (4) foster students’autonomy and agency (Nazar
et al., 2019; Tan & Calabrese Barton, 2018; Vossoughi et al., 2013; Escud
e et al., 2020).
Despite the promising results of prior studies, some scholars stress the need for teachers to
critically examine the Maker Movement’s current culture. Vossoughi et al. (2016) argued that
working-class students and students of color have been positioned as “targets of intervention
rather than sources of deep knowledge and skills”(p. 212) in the Maker Movement. In fact, ster-
eotyped images of makers (i.e., white, middle class, males) have been reproduced and reinforced
by the movement. To expand the possibility that the Maker Movement may contribute to educa-
tional equity for the historically underrepresented groups in making, or, more broadly, in STEM,
Vossoughi et al. (2016) proposed the following four principles of inclusive making: “critical analy-
ses of educational injustice, historicized approach to making as cross-cultural activity, explicit
attention to pedagogical philosophies and practices, and ongoing inquiry into the sociopolitical
values and purpose of making”(p. 215).
In their longitudinal study of 41 youths of color from low-income families, Calabrese Barton
and Tan (2018) highlighted how community engagement both influences the development of
youths’STEM-rich making and shapes an inclusive making culture. The researchers argued that:
making with and in [the] community opened opportunities for youth to project the ordinariness of
childhood and the rich culture of their communities onto their making while also highlighting the
historicized injustices they experience in the world and the symbolic and physical violence they sometimes
experienced as a result (Calabrese Barton & Tan, 2018, p. 779).
By providing rich empirical evidence of inclusive, STEM-rich making projects, the scholars
also emphasized that co-making within the community supports the youth’s ability to make com-
munity funds of knowledge useful, thereby challenging making’s injustice and traditional power
hierarchies (Calabrese Barton & Tan, 2018).
Maker education in teacher preparation
While studies concerning maker education in teacher preparation programs are still emerging,
previous research has mainly focused on two areas: (1) exploring the learning opportunities and
infrastructure of maker education offered in teacher education programs (Cohen, 2017; Hsu
et al., 2017; Cohen et al., 2017); and (2) examining how courses, credential, and certificate pro-
grams that focus on maker education affect preservice teachers’perspectives regarding making
activities, principles, and pedagogies (Jones et al., 2017;O’Brien et al., 2016; Rodriguez et al.,
2018). For example, Cohen (2017) investigated the extent to which US teacher education pro-
grams integrate maker education. The study found that among the 123 participating teacher prep-
aration programs, approximately half provided opportunities for their preservice teachers to learn
maker technologies and principles through entire courses or, at the very least, a unit or module
(Cohen, 2017). Of these teacher education programs, 17.1% possessed a makerspace or maker
JOURNAL OF RESEARCH ON TECHNOLOGY IN EDUCATION 3
laboratory, while 42.3% were interested in establishing the maker education infrastructure within
three years (Cohen, 2017).
Rodriguez et al. (2018) reported the outline of the University of Texas at Austin’s UTeach
Maker, a micro-credentialing program that supports preservice teachers in integrating maker edu-
cation into their STEM classrooms. Throughout the program, preservice teachers developed in-
depth knowledge and skills associated with making by participating in hands-on professional
development workshops, collaborating with experienced maker mentors for their making projects,
and holding regular cohort meetings (Rodriguez et al., 2018). The study also revealed three key
factors that contributed to the successful implementation of the micro-credential program,
namely, “maker showcase framework,”(Rodriguez et al., 2018, p. 9), “community support,”(p.
10), and “public review and presentation of work”(p. 13).
In their multi-institutional study, Jones et al. (2017) investigated preservice and in-service
teachers’beliefs regarding the use of maker activities in formal K–12 educational settings. This
study particularly illustrates the benefits of maker education as perceived by preservice teachers,
such as “facilitating hands-on engagement with differentiated instruction, richer learning due to
the applied nature of making, and potential benefits to content learning”(Jones et al., 2017,p.
139). Jones et al. (2017) also identified the barriers to implementing maker education in K–12
classrooms, including preservice teachers’reluctance to integrating making tools, arising from
their perceived lack of technological knowledge or time constraints.
Despite the body of research on maker education, little attention has been paid to the building
of preservice teachers’capacity to teach making in schools for students from diverse backgrounds.
The current Maker Movement has been criticized because it has not significantly increased par-
ticipation from underrepresented groups of people (e.g., people of color, women, people with dis-
abilities) into making activities (Kafai et al., 2014; Seo, 2019; Vossoughi et al., 2016). For instance,
Masters (2018) showed that only 10 percent of attendees at the 2015 Maker Faire in New York
were African American or Hispanic and just 38 percent of participants were female. Moreover,
the stereotyped images of what counts as making and who can be a maker, (re) produced by the
Maker Movement, can further reinforce the existing educational inequalities (Calabrese Barton
et al., 2016). Thus, it is essential to explore what learning experience in teacher education pro-
grams supports preservice teachers in engaging all of their students in the making inclusively.
Funds of knowledge
We drew upon the theory of funds of knowledge (Gonz
alez et al., 2006; Hogg, 2011; Llopart &
Esteban-Guitart, 2018; Moll et al., 1992) to explore inclusive making practices in the STEM edu-
cation course. Funds of knowledge (hereafter, FoK) have been originally referred to as
“historically accumulated and culturally developed bodies of knowledge and skills essential for
household or individual functioning and wellbeing”(Moll et al., 1992, p. 134). This asset-based
pedagogical theory offers a conceptual framework for informing effective, inclusive practices for
diverse students (Llopart & Esteban-Guitart, 2018). By valuing the roles of their FoK in learning
academic disciplines, this theory enables us to challenge the deficit perspective regarding students
from racial/ethnic minority groups and low-income families (Hogg, 2011).
Previous studies showed that incorporating FoK to curriculum or instruction improved under-
served student engagement and learning in academic disciplines by building connections between
the culture of schools and the culture of student life-worlds (Hogg, 2011; Llopart & Esteban-
Guitart, 2018; Rodriguez, 2013). Specifically, the studies unveiled that embracing students’FoK
motivated students from underserved communities to learn core ideas and practices in academic
disciplines by creating more accepting and inclusive learning environments (Calabrese Barton &
Tan, 2009; Gonz
alez et al., 2001; Wilson-Lopez et al., 2016).
4 M. SHIN ET AL.
For example, Calabrese Barton and Tan (2009) investigated what FoK students from low-
income families in a U.S. urban area brought into sixth-grade science classes and how they lever-
aged their FoK to engage in science. The study discovered that students used four different types
of FoK (family, community, peer, and popular culture) to learn about food and nutrition in sci-
ence classes. More importantly, the study found that incorporating students’diverse FoK into the
school classroom generated a more inclusive science learning environment called “a hybrid space”
(Calabrese Barton & Tan, 2009, p. 52). Hybrid space transformed a science classroom into a
familiar living space (e.g., a kitchen, grocery store, or farm), giving students greater comfort, con-
fidence, and power. Simultaneously, hybrid space granted students more authority since their
diverse knowledge from home, culture, and community was recognized and valued in learning
core scientific ideas. Consequently, the inclusive learning environment contributed to enhanced
student participation and scientific achievement.
Although research on FoK in maker education is rare, Blikstein (2008) showed that bringing
students’FoK to making activities created an inclusive technological learning environment where
students from an economically underserved community were empowered and felt equally valued.
The case study illustrated that, through the making process, students from low-income families in
ao Paulo, Brazil, used their cultural or local practices to solve problems creatively. By repurpos-
ing objects or recycling everyday materials for their making projects (e.g., replacing a destroyed
motor in a LEGO robot kit with a motor salvaged from a broken tape recorder)—a cultural prac-
tice commonly observed in the community—the students recognized that their ways of thinking,
doing, and making were valued in the learning space. Blikstein (2008) also pointed that allowing
students to use tools and materials that are affordable and readily available in their homes,
schools, and communities during making activities boosted student participation in making.
Although the scope of FoK remains contentious, we followed an expanded definition of FoK
that includes a variety of knowledge sources developed outside of formal educational settings
(e.g., community, family, peers, and popular culture) for household or individual functioning and
wellbeing (Calabrese Barton & Tan, 2009; Hogg, 2011; Moje et al., 2004; Upadhyay, 2009). We
believe this broader definition of FoK better captures the dynamic nature of preservice teachers’
use of FoK in making projects while also interpreting the value of FoK in creating inclusive mak-
ing environments. In this study, the theory of FoK specifically laid the foundation for the course
design and its making project as a way to encourage preservice teachers to experience inclusive
making practices firsthand. By creating a space in which preservice teachers’diverse FoK were
valued and utilized throughout the making project, we sought to explore a new pedagogical con-
cept or tool for inclusive maker education. Furthermore, the conceptual framework of FoK
offered us an analytical lens to understand how, when, and where preservice elementary teachers
recognized and leveraged their funds of knowledge for making projects and why their use of FoK
created a new culture of making.
We employed an ethnographic research method (Corbin & Strauss, 2008; Creswell & Poth, 2018;
Glesne, 2016) to investigate preservice elementary teachers’(hereafter, “PTs”) use of their FoK in
making projects and its impact on their perspectives regarding maker education. In the following
sections, we first describe the study context and participants, followed by our methods for data
collection and analysis. We used pseudonyms for locations and participants described below.
This study was conducted in the Community-Based Learning in STEM course (hereafter,
“CSTEM”) offered through the Liberal Studies program at Golden State University on the west
JOURNAL OF RESEARCH ON TECHNOLOGY IN EDUCATION 5
coast of the US. Nestled in central California, the comprehensive public university serves one of
the richest agricultural valleys and most culturally diverse regions in the country. The US
Department of Education has designated the university as both a Hispanic-Serving Institution
and an Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander-Serving Institution. Moreover,
66.4% of the students are considered first-generation college students, while 61.5% are eligible for
Federal Pell grants, which are typically exclusively awarded to undergraduate students who face
financial difficulties (Office of Institutional Effectiveness, 2019).
Liberal Studies is the typical undergraduate major of students who plan to enter the post-bac-
calaureate elementary teaching credential program. In California, a prospective elementary teacher
is required to obtain a bachelor’s degree before joining the elementary teaching credential pro-
gram. The Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Studies program is designed to provide subject matter
preparation in the humanities, mathematics, natural sciences, social sciences, human develop-
ment, physical education, and visual and performing arts. The stated mission of the program is
to provide relevant and rigorous subject matter preparation for elementary teaching that is com-
mitted to equity and social justice.
As a culminating capstone experience, a goal for the CSTEM course is to provide PTs with
opportunities for synthesizing their learning from prior subject matter coursework. PTs enter the
class typically in their senior year with coursework completed in four natural science subject
areas: life science, physical science, earth science, and environmental science. The course also
aims to enhance PTs’understanding of STEM education for all students, particularly those from
underrepresented groups in the STEM fields (e.g., racial/ethnic minority groups, women, English
language learners). The CSTEM course does not function as a science methods course. PTs
experience a specific science teaching methods course in the postbaccalaureate credential pro-
gram, where lesson planning, Next Generation Science Standards, and other topics are addressed.
To achieve these goals, the PTs participated in a STEM-focused making project entitled “Making
for My Community”during the course as one of their core learning activities.
Making for My community
In the Making for My Community project, PTs engaged in a semester-long, STEM-rich making
project in which they identified critical community problems and developed feasible solutions to
those problems to make their local community socially, environmentally, and economically sus-
tainable. For example, one group of PTs designed a prototype of a safety belt to protect servers of
local restaurants from street robbery. The special belt’s built-in alarm goes off and LED lights
illuminate when the wearer is in a dangerous situation. Another group of PTs built a model of a
greenhouse for growing local fruits and vegetables for college students who often have limited
access to healthy eating choices. By utilizing their STEM knowledge and FoK, as well as by visual-
izing their proposed solutions to their identified problems in the form of making, the PTs sought
to make a difference in their communities as agents of change.
Throughout the project, the PTs participated in four key design phases: (1) identifying
problems, (2) developing solutions, (3) improving solutions, and (4) showcasing and reflecting
(Figure 1). During the first phase, the PTs created a list of community problems they had noticed
and experienced over the years as community insiders by leveraging their FoK developed within
the community. The PTs formed project teams based on each member’s interests and needs.
They then surveyed or interviewed community members using tablet technology and online sur-
vey/interview tools (e.g., Qualtrics) to gain multiple perspectives regarding their chosen problem.
After collecting data from the field, each team selected one problem they hoped to solve with
their project. Then, they converted the problem into a driving question that helped them organize
and direct their project activities (e.g., “How can we increase personal safety in the Golden
City?”,“How can we offer Golden State students access to healthier food?”).
6 M. SHIN ET AL.
In the second phase, the teams had brainstorming sessions to determine the answers to their
driving questions. Afterward, they sketched their initial ideas on paper or using a 3-D computer
modeling program (e.g., Google SketchUp). The PTs also participated in learning opportunities
about making tools and resources (e.g., 3-D printing, Arduino, solar energy technology) through
hands-on, in-class making workshops offered by the course instructor or guest making specialists.
To develop possible solutions to their problems, the PTs designed scientific investigations and
collected data for analysis (e.g., to examine which fruits or vegetables grow abundantly in the
city’s soil by reviewing the relevant literature and interviewing local farmers). Based on the results
of their investigations, the PTs created artifacts, prototypes, and physical models to visualize their
answers to their driving questions (e.g., a model of a greenhouse, a prototype of a safety belt, a 3-
D model of redesigned parking lots).
During the third phase, the PTs received feedback on their developing ideas from their class-
mates. Each group briefly presented its making project in class and had a Q&A session with the
other groups. In addition, the PTs had the chance to meet local scientists, engineers, and IT
experts during the class and discussed possible design decisions to advance their projects.
Moreover, the groups brought their prototypes of making projects to their homes, public parks,
or churches to get feedback from members of the community. Through these ways, the PTs
modified and optimized their making projects.
In the last phase, the groups presented their projects to a diverse audience of university fac-
ulty, staff, family, neighbors, and friends who attended the showcase. During the event, the PTs
introduced the purpose of their making projects and showed final artifacts, including their digital
portfolios, short promotional videos about the projects, and making artifacts. Finally, after the
showcase, the PTs wrote reflection notes about what they had learned from the project and what
could have been done better.
This study’s participants comprised 15 PTs enrolled in the CSTEM course during the 2018–2019
academic year. Seven were from the fall 2018 semester and eight were from the spring 2019
Figure 1. Making for My Community project.
JOURNAL OF RESEARCH ON TECHNOLOGY IN EDUCATION 7
semester. One of this manuscript’s authors taught the CSTEM course as a primary instructor for
two semesters, thereby sustaining the course’s key learning activities and structure. Table 1 illus-
trates a brief profile of the 15 PTs: eight Hispanics, four Whites, two Asians, and one African
American. Thirteen were females and two were males, while five were juniors and ten were
seniors—all of whom were majoring in Liberal Studies.
We employed the purposeful sampling strategy (Creswell & Poth, 2018; Miles & Huberman,
1994; Patton, 2002) to recruit and select the pool of participants for this study. Three key criteria
were considered when making the final selection. First, we recruited PTs who both expressed
their interest in participating in the study at the beginning of the semester and returned their
consent forms. Second, we selected at least one PT from each project team in mid-semester,
which typically consisted of three or four PTs, to determine any patterns of use in their FoK
across different project types. Third, we chose PTs who participated in interviews and shared all
their artifacts at the end of semester. Since we were interested in how PT participation in the
Making for My Community project might facilitate their use of FoK (and vice versa), it was
essential that we selected participants able to provide ample details of their project development
during each key phase. Of the 68 eligible participants, there were 15 who met the key criteria and
were selected for this study.
We gathered qualitative data via multiple methods, including participant observations, interviews,
and artifact collection, to investigate the PTs’participation in making and their perspectives
regarding maker education. Participant observations were conducted once a week between
September 2018 and May 2019 in the CSTEM classrooms (135 hours). The observations focused
on (a) what learning opportunities and support were provided to the participants during making;
(b) when, where, and how participants utilized their FoK; and (c) how and with whom they colla-
borated on making in the CSTEM classrooms. Each observation was videotaped and accompanied
by field notes.
Semi-structured individual interviews were conducted with the participants twice during the
study period (30 hours). The authors designed and discussed the interview protocol in bi-weekly
research meetings. The interviews mainly focused on the following: (a) in what ways the partici-
pants recognized and leveraged ideas, practices, and resources for making projects; and (b) how
and why, if any, the participants’understanding of maker education had changed. Depending on
the participants’availability, we held face-to-face or online interviews using Zoom or Skype. Each
Table 1. Participant Profiles.
Name Race/Ethnicity Gender Year Semester
Natalie Hispanic Female 3 Fall 2018
Joanna Hispanic Female 3 Fall 2018
Sophia Asian Female 4 Fall 2018
Emma Hispanic Female 4 Fall 2018
Kora White Female 3 Fall 2018
James White Male 3 Fall 2018
Ava Hispanic Female 4 Fall 2018
Isabella Asian Female 4 Spring 2019
Grace Hispanic Female 4 Spring 2019
Brooklyn African American Female 4 Spring 2019
Ruby White Female 4 Spring 2019
Brielle Hispanic Female 3 Spring 2019
Kylie Hispanic Female 4 Spring 2019
Octavia White Female 4 Spring 2019
Benjamin Hispanic Male 4 Spring 2019
8 M. SHIN ET AL.
interview lasted for approximately 45 minutes to 1 hour and all were audio-recorded and tran-
scribed for subsequent data analysis.
We also collected all artifacts that the PTs and instructors generated, particularly for the
Making for My Community project, to explore how their FoK were visualized or transformed in
the form of STEM-focused making. These artifacts included (a) the PTs’digital portfolios, which
illustrated their making-related progress; (b) STEM artifacts (e.g., prototypes of inventions, 3-D
computer models, mobile apps) that represented viable solutions to community problems; (c)
promotional videos that briefly introduced why and how the PTs wanted to solve community
problems; and (d) CSTEM class documents, including course syllabi, Google Slides, and work-
sheets. Each artifact was scanned and then saved in electronic format.
We analyzed the data guided by the data analysis spiral method (Creswell & Poth, 2018), which
involves five key analytic steps: (a) managing and organizing the data, (b) reading and memoing
emergent ideas, (c) describing and classifying codes into themes, (d) developing and assessing
interpretations, and (e) representing and visualizing the data (Creswell & Poth, 2018). We first
used the ATLAS.ti computer program (Version 8.4.2) to manage and organize the qualitative
data. All data, including field notes, interview transcripts, and student artifacts, were converted
into digital files and imported to ATLAS.ti for the analysis. To ensure that all materials were eas-
ily accessible in the large database, we also created a file-naming system (e.g., Natalie-
Interview#1-Fall 2018). While reading through several times to acquire a sense of the data as a
whole, we wrote descriptive and interpretive memos to capture the participants’emergent ideas
and to help identify the initial codes.
When coding the data, we drew particularly upon the constant comparative method (Corbin
& Strauss, 2008) to compare data pieces systemically for similarities and differences. In the open
coding process, we delineated concepts to represent segments of the data as identifying the initial
codes. In the axial coding, we explored the relations between codes by considering the central
phenomena, causal or contextual conditions, actions or interactions, and consequences. In the
selective coding process, we discovered four key themes regarding the roles of FoK in STEM-rich
making and these roles’influence on preservice teachers’perspectives regarding maker education
by combining and structuring the codes. By comparing and linking the findings from prior litera-
ture on maker education, we interpreted the four themes to capture the lessons learned (Lincoln
& Guba, 1985). To clearly represent our findings, we created a table (Table 2) that summarized
the PTs’making projects and developed narratives of the PTs’stories regarding their use of FoK,
which are described in the following section.
To improve trustworthiness for the data collection and analysis, we primarily implemented
three techniques that were particularly informed by Creswell and Poth (2018) validation strat-
egies: triangulation, member checking, and thick description. We initially made use of multiple
and different data sources from participant observations, interviews, and artifact collection to
corroborate evidence that validated our findings. To solicit the participants’views of the find-
ings’credibility, we also member checked by taking back research memos that described pre-
liminary analyses and initial themes to a group of participants. For instance, one of the initial
themes (positioning PTs as critical maker educators) was changed during the member check-
ing, since some of the participants indicated the theme did not properly represent their experi-
ence. Additionally, we provided detailed descriptions of preservice teachers’engagement with
making projects and application of their FoK to help readers make decisions regarding
JOURNAL OF RESEARCH ON TECHNOLOGY IN EDUCATION 9
Table 2. Preservice elementary teachers’Making Projects and funds of knowledge.
Project Name Participant Identified Problems Proposed Solutions
Examples of Funds of Knowledge Used for
Power House Natalie Lack of access to healthy food in the
A solar-powered greenhouse with locally
grown vegetables and fruits
Dearth of healthy food; building a greenhouse;
knowledge about local vegetables and fruits
Belt-A-Tron 5000 Kora Increased number of street robberies
targeting people working in food
restaurants at night
A belt with buzzers and lights protecting
people from street robbery
Experience as a server for a food restaurant
(wearing a belt as part of her uniform);
taking apart home appliances
Water Squared Ruby Water shortage due to persistent drought A portable container for water recycling Amount of water used for local farms; persistent
drought at Golden Valley; plumbing
Cool Pack Isabella Local farmers exposed and vulnerable to
A hydration backpack with cooling fabric, a
thermometer, and a water bladder
Harsh summer weather conditions in Golden
Valley; working condition in local
Sophia A dearth of public space where community
people come together
A solar-powered projector displaying images
of artworks created by local artists
Community art events; local library’s tech
lending service; a network of
Paws Donation Box Grace Increased stray animals on the streets and
lack of resources to aid animals in
A donation box for stray animals in shelters Required food and hygiene products for pets;
The Watchdog Emma Concerned with safety on the college
campus at night
A portable safety device with an alarm and
Criminal activities and dangerous areas on the
Paw Pals Joanna Feeling unsafe walking from their night class
to their cars
A mobile app that helps students find
Limited street lights on the parking lots; delayed
emergency notification; college students’
Click, Find, & Park James Increased time for parking cars causes
tardiness in class
A mobile app that helps students find
parking lots quickly
Student parking pass; capacity and availability of
each parking lot on the campus
The Waste Reducers Brooklyn Increased amount of waste in the
A redesigned recycling bin with a compactor Increased amount of trash and waste on the
side of the roads and parks in the city;
Parking Reimagined Ava Inefficient, stressful, and unsafe parking at
A model of building for parking Distance between parking lots and buildings for
class; safety concerns in parking lots; building
structure for parking downtown
Flower Pot App Brielle High teen pregnancy rate in low-
socioeconomic areas of the Golden Valley
A mobile app to educate local teens about
fertility and sexual health
Pregnant teenage girls in the neighborhood;
lack of access to quality information about
pregnancy for teenagers
Eco Trio Kylie Litter from cars and lack of recycling waste
A car trash bag with compartments for
glass, paper, and plastic
Mending of clothes (adding Velcro for liner,
adding zipper to the bag, and sewing)
U-Security Octavia Surging car break-ins A car security device with a motion sensor
and an alarm
Assembling and disassembling home appliances;
place where most car break-ins occurred in
The Flashpack Benjamin Concerned with safety on the college
campus at night
A solar-powered backpack with LED lights
and an alarm
Limited number of street lights around the
campus; different types of lights
10 M. SHIN ET AL.
In this section, we present four key themes that emerged from the data to answer our research
questions. The first and second themes represent the ways through which PTs utilized their FoK
in the making projects (research question #1). The third and fourth themes involve the influence
of PTs’application of FoK on their perspectives on making (research question #2). In reporting
the themes, we draw examples from the 15 PTs’cases, summarized in Table 2.
Personally relevant making
We found that the PTs used their diverse FoK in ways that turned making practices into more
personally connected, relevant, and meaningful learning activities. To be specific, the application
of FoK in making allowed PTs to engage in specific real-world problems that were deeply con-
nected to their interests, aspirations, or life experiences. Furthermore, the PTs’diverse ideas,
tools, or resources constructed outside of the university classrooms played critical roles in advanc-
ing the making projects, creating a deeper connection to the making activities.
Natalie, one of the participating PTs, built a model of a greenhouse powered by solar cells to
challenge the lack of access to healthy foods experienced across the local campus (Figure 2). To
identify a community problem for her making project, Natalie utilized her diverse FoK developed
over the years on Golden State campus and in her rural hometown:
I think because Maple is a much smaller city, we were exposed to a lot of greenery and a lot of agricultural
environment. We saw many healthy options provided for us. By contrast, Golden State, because it is in the
center of the Golden City, has a lot of commercial fast food restaurants. Thus, it’s harder for people to
acquire healthier options. Right here on Shaw [Avenue], there are so many McDonald’s, Jack in the Box,
Buffalo Wild Wings, etc. As a college student living the college life, with full-time courses from 8 am to
4 pm or late-night courses, one doesn’t have the energy to go out and look for these healthier options, so
the easiest thing is to go to the commercial restaurants.
Natalie recognized that college students in the Golden State have limited access to healthy
food around the campus. Comparing the food environment of Maple, a rural area where she
lived, and that of Golden State, Natalie noticed that the college students were relatively more
exposed to fast foods. She also understood why it was difficult for college students to spend time
searching for healthier eating, based on her experience as a college student. Utilizing her FoK in
Figure 2. Natalie’s model of greenhouse.
JOURNAL OF RESEARCH ON TECHNOLOGY IN EDUCATION 11
making, Natalie intended to solve the problem that mattered to her and to her college friends.
Furthermore, Natalie actively used her FoK (constructed while helping her father, who was a
farmer) to develop possible solutions to the problem:
That’s why we believe that with our greenhouse project, which is something that we could display out here
at Golden State, we are giving the students a place to go when they want to transition their eating habits to
something healthier. It’s easier for them to access, as they don’t have to leave the campus. It’s walking
distance from wherever they are. I have worked in agriculture. I have worked in the field multiples times
throughout my high school years, so I have an idea about what fruits or vegetables may be needed
throughout the growing process, what vegetables may be in season, and what’s best to grow during a
Natalie’s experience of working in a farm and her experiences as a college student set a specific
direction for her making project (greenhouse). In addition, her FoK enabled her to determine
which plants and fruits to grow in the greenhouse and what temperature and amount of water
the greenhouse should maintain for crops to continue to grow. Natalie’s knowledge and experi-
ence led to the decision to install solar cells on the greenhouse for its continuous operation. In
summary, the PTs actively used their various FoK during the making process, transforming the
making into more personally relevant learning.
I’m an expert!
Our data show that the PTs brought their FoK to their making projects to position themselves as
experts. Leveraging their in-depth understanding of the specific history and context of their com-
munities, the PTs designed their making projects in ways that better responded to the unique
needs of people in their local areas. In developing their making projects, the PTs also often uti-
lized their FoK to make particular design choices, attempting to validate their expertise in specific
areas. Rather than being consumers of knowledge, the PTs sought to become sources or pro-
ducers of knowledge (Calabrese Barton et al., 2016).
Kora, a junior in the Liberal Studies major, created a special belt for workers in the local food
restaurants for her making projects (Figure 3). The “safety belt”with a noise maker and LED
lights was designed to notify auditorily and visually that someone is in need of assistance from a
“bad”situation late at night:
Figure 3. Kora’s safety belt.
12 M. SHIN ET AL.
Our problem was how to make our community and those who work in the food industry or work late
nights feel safer when returning home or while they are on the job in general. I come from a job where I
get off at 1:00 am and I have to walk to my car. Being a server, I carry with me a lot of money, so street
robbers and homeless people around the area see me as an easy prey. They’ll come after workers like me
and try to steal our purses because they know that we earned good money that night.
Drawing on her FoK developed as a food server for several years, Kora had a deep under-
standing of local restaurant workers’vulnerability to late night street robberies. Possessing
detailed information regarding the people who are often targeted for robberies in the city and
where/when are the most dangerous places/time, Kora was vying for expert status in the CSTEM
classroom. When asked why she intentionally designed “a belt”instead of other gadgets or devi-
ces, Kora also showed how she utilized her FoK to position herself as an expert:
Most of the jobs I’ve had in the food industry required us to wear belts. It’s part of our uniform. With
Applebee’s, in particular, I had to wear a black belt with my uniform for an all-black aesthetic. It’s kind of
a formal wear. If you go to McDonald’s, they have their own line of belts. It has red, green, and black
stripes on it. With Carl’s Junior, it’s the same thing. We felt that a belt is a common accessory that
everyone wears to a certain type of serving job or some type of nighttime job. It wouldn’t be something
that someone would forget. I am an expert!
When discussing possible solutions to the safety issue of local servers, Kora quickly proposed
her idea of the safety belt to her project team and course instructor, thus drawing upon her FoK.
Kora noticed that most workers in the food industry wore some type of belts with their uniforms
and even as they returned to their cars after work. To promote her idea among her colleagues
and her instructor, Kora actively used her FoK on what servers always carried with them. In
short, the PTs empower themselves by bringing up their diverse FoK to the making projects,
blurring the boundaries of who can be experts or makers in the CSTEM classroom.
Making for mutual learning
The PTs acknowledged that utilizing their FoK facilitated mutual learning among classroom
members in making. Breaking the traditional power imbalance in which the instructor (an expert)
taught knowledge or skills required for making to PTs (beginners) in the form of one-direction
learning, the PTs recognized that learning for making took place in both directions, that is,
between the instructor and the PTs.
Ruby, a senior in Liberal Studies, shared her perspective on making with her FoK:
It is not only the student who learns from the teacher, but the teacher also learns from the student. This is
mutual relationship. I think that using funds of knowledge affects the students because it makes them feel
like they know what they are talking about. Personally, I know how I can contribute and how I can
collaborate with the teacher and other students to make this project, achieve progress, and make it better
just by increasing the amount of participation that’s contributed into it. It also helps students become more
vocal about what they think about the project. It allows them to share their ideas or give their opinions. I
want to bring those ideas to my own classroom.
Ruby pointed out that using FoK transformed the classroom into a new learning (or making)
space where each PT’s voice was heard. In the learning space, the PTs’life stories and experiences
were significantly valued and empowered for making. Collaborations between the instructor and
the PTs dramatically increased to enhance the making projects. Furthermore, Ruby highlighted
that the use of FoK elevated the degree of the PTs’participation in the making practices. Indeed,
Ruby viewed learning for making as a more inclusive practice by creating a “mutual relationship”
between the instructor and the PTs.
Likewise, the PTs noticed that using FoK fostered the creation of a positive classroom environ-
ment that is respectful and inclusive for all. Isabella, a junior student, stated how using her FoK
promoted respect in the classroom and created a positive classroom climate:
JOURNAL OF RESEARCH ON TECHNOLOGY IN EDUCATION 13
I would say that one of the challenging moments was becoming a member of a team at the beginning of
this semester. Honestly, I feel like it’s hard working with people you’ve never met before. However, I shared
my story and my life with my team. They shared theirs, too. They listened to my ideas and they allowed me
to work on the project using my knowledge. I learned a lot about collaboration and teamwork from my
project. I was able to understand how to work with others and include them as they are. Now, I feel that
I’m more aware of inclusion and that I can avoid exclusion in my future classroom.
By recognizing that all project team members have different FoK that contributed to advancing
their making projects, Isabella came to respect diverse ideas and viewpoints from her team mem-
bers. It also encouraged her to seek more comprehensive ideas that embraced the team members’
diverse voices as much as possible.
Funds of knowledge as resources for creativity
We found that PTs viewed their FoK as major resources for creative ideas in STEM-rich making.
In synergy with their STEM core ideas and practices, PTs’FoK unleashed new possibilities for
their making projects by providing novel insights on the design problems and creative solutions
to the issues. PTs considered their FoK as critical tools in designing their making projects to be
more “unique”,“different”, and “better.”
Sophia’s project was to transform many unused public spaces in her city into vibrant places.
During the brainstorming session, Sophia shared her experience of attending a local art festival:
I do once in a while go to Art Hop downtown. There’s an Art Hop downtown every first Thursday of the
month. Thus, I would go down there and just look at the artwork displayed. They have wines there,
crackers, a really nice setting, and music. It does bring the community together. At the Art Hop, I talk to
people I don’t know, and they talk about arts. I learn along the way.
Sophia knew that arts have the power to attract people to public spaces and help them come
together. This FoK led her to design a solar-powered portable projector (and its water-proof case)
that displayed photos of arts created by local artists in unused public spaces (Figure 4). This pro-
jector was powered by solar cells and had rechargeable batteries so that it could run outdoors. In
addition, its case was made of water-proof materials so that the project could work even on rainy
days. The USB flash drive was directly connected to the mini projector for it to be able to project
the artistic photos.
Figure 4. Sophia’s solar-powered portable projector.
14 M. SHIN ET AL.
Sophia recalled how her FoK significantly shaped her project and made it “different”
I think that without all of the information I gathered outside of class and my personal knowledge, it
wouldn’t have been what it was. Using the resources or ideas out there or in my community, I made my
project different and creative. I think it made my project better. I would love to do a project like this in
Sophia’s FoK about the local art festival and its impact on public spaces imbued new insights
on the design problem (“unused public spaces”) and provided a creative solution (“the portable
projector displaying photos of local arts”). By merging her FoK with STEM knowledge/skills (e.g.,
solar energy technology, energy transfer, and water-proof materials), Sophia developed a creative
making project. In short, the PTs saw their FoK as a fruitful resource to expand the boundaries
of their making projects.
We examined how the PTs utilized their FoK in making projects and how the application of FoK
shaped their making practices and perspectives on making. The findings indicate that the PTs
used their diverse FoK to transform making into a potentially life-changing activity that is deeply
linked to their interests and needs. Furthermore, the PTs actively leveraged their FoK for making
to position themselves as experts in the university classrooms. Another important finding was
that the PTs recognized that the application of the FoK to the making projects facilitated mutual
learning among classroom members. Each PT’s diverse FoK was regarded as a significant know-
ledge resource for creative ideas in advancing the making projects.
Considering the previous studies, these findings are significant in expanding our understand-
ing of maker education in teacher preparation programs. The results of this study confirmed that
PTs’active use of FoK contributed to the emergence of inclusive making. By utilizing FoK in the
making, the PTs projected their different backgrounds, experiences, and stories constructed in
their homes or communities over the years into the making projects. The PTs’diverse needs and
backgrounds were explicitly considered in the making, and their varied ways of making were val-
ued in the making space. Accordingly, the PTs felt more empowered in the course of making to
bring into the process their own ideas, rather than relying on suggestions from the instructor.
This finding broadly supports the evidence from previous studies showing that students are posi-
tioned with more authority in learning environments when their FoK are valued as equal to the
disciplinary STEM knowledge examined (Calabrese Barton & Tan, 2018; Wilson-Lopez et al.,
alez et al., 2001). The results further demonstrate that embracing learners’FoK can
promote STEM learning for learners from various backgrounds in the new STEM learning envir-
onment (i.e., the making space or makerspace).
In addition, many PTs in this study used everyday tools or materials that were affordable and
readily available in their homes, university campuses, and communities for their making projects.
As Blikstein (2008) reported, students from low-income families actively participated in making
activities when teachers valued their use of everyday tools or materials. As the PTs in this study
planned to teach students from underserved communities, promoting the use of everyday tools or
materials may contribute to generating more inclusive making environments. This result drove us
to reexamine the current trend of using only high-tech and high-cost making tools, such as
digital fabrication equipment, in teacher preparation programs.
Moreover, the results assert the promise of a new model of maker education in teacher prepar-
ation programs. In this study, prospective teachers directly experienced inclusive making by
embracing their FoK to making projects. As a result, the PTs transformed both the ways they
engaged in making practices and their mindset toward maker education. The maker education
programs for PTs illustrated in previous studies have mostly focused on introducing the technical
JOURNAL OF RESEARCH ON TECHNOLOGY IN EDUCATION 15
knowledge and skills (e.g., how to use a 3 D printer) required for making (e.g., Rodriguez et al.,
2018; Jones et al., 2017). Relative to this focus, discussions on pedagogy for making—which can
reflect the interests and needs of diverse students—have been limited. We do not agree that the
making activity itself brings active participation and learning from all students. As Vossoughi
et al. (2016) pointed out, what is important is the way the teachers engage the students in making
activities, which may restrict or expand the possibility of maker education. We suggest that
STEM teacher educators should explicitly provide preservice teachers with conceptual frameworks
and instructional tools for pedagogy of making, particularly for students from underrepresented
groups or linguistically and culturally diverse communities. This article offers a stepping stone for
developing the discourse by exploring the active use of FoK as a pedagogy for inclusive making.
A limitation of this study is that we were unable to identify all of the PTs’FoK used in the
making projects. This is because we mainly observed the PTs’making processes in the university
classroom and relied on the data from retrospective interviews. This means that a comprehensive
understanding of the value of FoK and its role in the making projects may not have been pos-
sible. This problem may be addressed partially by collecting data from the PTs’ongoing reflective
journals (Francis, 1995) in future studies. Additionally, the participants of this study are not con-
sidered to represent all PTs who engaged in the making projects. Considering that we selected
the participants through a purposeful sampling strategy, it cannot be said that the appearance of
preservice teachers’participation in making is consistent with that reported in this study.
Based on the results of this study, we suggest the following for future research. First, it is
required to explore how the application of FoK creates more inclusive making spaces, in synergy
with other inclusive pedagogies (e.g., universal design for learning (Rose & Meyer, 2002); cultur-
ally sustaining pedagogy (Paris, 2012); and youth participatory action research (Cammarota &
Fine, 2008). By finding the best combination among the various teaching strategies relevant to a
particular context, teachers may be able to engage more students in meaningful STEM learning
by making. Second, further work is needed to examine how STEM education faculty in teacher
education programs define the purpose of making and what theories or concepts they employ to
design making activities for preservice teachers. It is critical to fully capture how teacher educa-
tors view the potential and roles of making in STEM learning to discuss the future direction of
maker education in teacher preparation programs. Last, it remains to be seen whether a PT’s
experience of inclusive making is realized in actual teaching practices in K-12 classrooms. At the
same time, it is essential to identify the problems and challenges that PTs face when guiding stu-
dents on making activities.
There is a growing expectation for the Maker Movement to bring new changes to STEM educa-
tion in K-12 classrooms. Accordingly, a number of teacher education programs have offered new
courses, micro-credentials, and professional development programs, in which teachers develop
their understanding of maker education and build knowledge or skills for making activities.
However, relatively little attention has been paid to the ways in which teachers should learn to
teach making for all students inclusively. We believe that making for all will only be realized
when students’diverse backgrounds, lived experiences, and life stories are seen as invaluable
assets for making, not as deficits. It is only when more teachers design making activities to
respond to various needs or wants of their students that maker education will truly transform
STEM learning in classrooms. In this study, we explored the use of FoK as a powerful pedagogy
for making for all. We hope this article contributes to reenvisioning maker education in teacher
16 M. SHIN ET AL.
Notes on contributors
Myunghwan Shin is an Assistant Professor of STEM Education in the Department of Liberal Studies at California
State University, Fresno. Dr. Shin’s research focuses on understanding what learning experience or support facili-
tates preservice teachers’development of competence in teaching STEM to students from diverse backgrounds.
Recently, Dr. Shin’s research involves maker education, design-thinking, and collaborative teacher inquiry.
Jane Jiyoung Lee is a post-doctoral researcher of the CREATE for STEM Institute at Michigan State University.
Her research area focuses on designing NGSS-aligned science curriculum and assessment. Dr. Lee received her
Ph.D in science education specializing biology education.
Frederick Peinado Nelson is an Associate Professor of Science Education and Chair of the Department of Liberal
Studies at California State University, Fresno. His research interests are in the areas of reflective practice in teacher
education, inquiry-oriented science teaching, and implementation of NGSS in teacher education. He received his
Ph.D. in science education from the University of Florida.
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