- Year 2018
- NSF Noyce Award # 1557155
- First Name Michael
- Last Name Marder
- Discipline Other: STEM Maker
Dr. Shelly R. Rodriguez
, The University of Texas
Making describes an internally motivated iterative design process that embodies notions of playful building and tinkering. Making is collaborative, allows for self-expression, and encourages individuals to explore materials and technologies to solve problems. Recently, interest in applying making to K-12 science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education has increased (Bevan, 2017; Blikstein, 2013). Growing numbers of STEM educators are finding novel paths for bringing the creative, hands-on, iterative, and personally meaningful practices of making out of the hobbyist space and into classrooms to ensure access for all students. As making emerges in school settings, there is a need to help teachers develop confidence with the maker tools and project based pedagogy needed to support this empowering way of learning. Thus, making and the associated Maker Movement provide an opportunity to re-envision science teacher preparation and science education more broadly.
The National Science Foundation (NSF) has committed to funding projects related to the maker movement as a way to increase student retention and broaden participation in STEM education (National Science Foundation, 2017). Supported by an NSF Noyce grant (award ID 1557155), the UTeach STEM teacher preparation program aims to work with the vibrant Austin maker community to engage students in meaningful, authentic, and relevant projects and activities as we critically examine how making can improve education.
UTeach Noyce recipients have the opportunity to participate in UTeach Maker, a micro-credentialing program that helps UTeach students bring innovative, project-based maker practices into their STEM classrooms and makerspace environments. Key activities include providing each participant with a personal maker mentor, providing long term, ongoing maker professional development, providing funding for maker project and lesson materials, and having participants create and exhibit a Maker Showcase as a portfolio of their work.
UTeach Maker complements the established UTeach teacher preparation courses and field experiences. The extracurricular program has a minimum commitment of one year. During this time each preservice teacher works with a mentor to develop a Maker Showcase (website) consisting of four domains: maker philosophy, maker project, maker community, and maker education. The Showcase domains serve as the program framework and the website provides a personal repository of experience for each maker. Participants are provided with support in the form of monthly cohort meetings, workshops, formative assessments, and rubrics with milestones. A national leader in Maker Education serves as a final reviewer. Each participant also presents their Showcase to a their peers and the public. This process helps students articulate their experience. Through the process they develop key skills and a strong portfolio that will enhance their resumes and help launch their careers as maker educators.
UTeach Maker started in Fall 2016 with five students. Since that time, the program has served 33 students and produced 14 program graduates. There is currently a waiting list to join. Over time, the program has identified success factors including the development of the Showcase framework, community support, and the public review and presentation of work (Rodriguez, Harron, & DeGraff, 2017). While the program was designed for preservice teachers, it has recently opened to inservice teachers. Program outcomes include: increasing interest in making throughout the UTeach program, increasing the number of preservice teachers earning the maker micro-credential, re-engaging with UTeach graduates, creating materials for lesson planning and establishing a UTeach Maker Lesson Bank, and promoting making through national presentations and publications. Moving forward, we are analyzing collected data for publication and we hope to expand to other UTeach sites around the country.
The broader impacts of this project include spreading an enthusiasm for making and providing a model for teacher preparation programs interested in fostering maker education. Our program has strengthened the local maker ecosystem by providing maker internships, participating in maker events, and helping to organize the first ever Maker Faire Educator Summit in Austin.
To date, the UTeach Maker program has produced multiple published articles and conference presentations. We are currently working on additional publications. A video of our program was featured in the STEM for All Video Showcase and received approximately 1800 views. UTeach Maker has also established a Maker Lesson Bank focused on secondary STEM lessons. These lessons have been authored and enacted by the teachers in this program and serve as a repository and resource for maker educators nationwide.