We are often asked to connect our Makerspace’s purpose to learning outcomes. Some are curious to understand how building with LEGO, creating a circuit board or designing a 3D model is connected with the goals of the university as a place that values academic rigor. Our Makerspace users are having fun, stretching their curiosity but at the heart of it all, they are learning. The article Learning by Making: A framework to revisit practices in a constructionist learning environment lays out an argument for the learning that occurs within makerspaces.
Learning through making has been justified pedagogically for years. Dewey (1960) argued that learning should be contextualised, connecting content to a physical environment through student-directed investigation in an environment that stimulates curiosity. These experiential learning spaces promote interaction between “an individual and objects and others” (Dewey, 1960, p. 86), where roles can be exchanged depending on the objectives, activities and tools in an iterative process of investigation and making (Bevan et al., 2015). These dialectic interactions between materials, participants and context facilitate learning. In the words of Freire (2014), this process of discovery is promoted by the ebb and flow between action and world, world and action with posterior reflection. Learning emerges within a context of liberty through experience and social interaction, according to Vigotsky (1979) and Lave and Wenger (1991). It is cultivated by the relationship between ideas, materials and an environment that has been carefully designed to prompt the discovery of “Objects-to-think-with”, where objects become cognitive artefacts that facilitate the construction of new knowledge (Papert, 1980).
For more information about connecting learning with student learning, check out our examples under the Faculty page and connect with us to embed our resources, equipment and our expertise into your research and classroom environment.