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“I played a song with the help of a magic banana”: assessing short-term making events

Jessie Nixon (Department of Education, PBS Wisconsin, Madison, Wisconsin, USA)
Erica Halverson (Department of Curriculum and Instruction, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, Wisconsin, USA)
Andy Stoiber (Department of Curriculum and Instruction, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, Wisconsin, USA)
Andy Garbacz (Department of Educational Psychology, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, Wisconsin, USA)

Information and Learning Sciences

ISSN: 2398-5348

Article publication date: 28 June 2021

Issue publication date: 16 July 2021

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Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this study is to understand how learners describe their experiences with short-term, introductory maker experiences and to test a method for assessing learners’ experiences authentic to short-term learning.

Design/methodology/approach

The authors collected written responses from participants at a two-day event, STEM Center Learning Days. Through an analysis of 707 unique instances of learner responses to participation in drop-in maker activities, they examined how participants describe their short-term learning experiences.

Findings

The authors found that although some activities appear to onlookers to create passive experiences for learners, these seemingly passive moments have a significant impact on learners. In addition, some learners described themselves as working in tandem with tools to make something work and other learners viewed the tools as working autonomously. They found that the assessment method allowed them to gain an understanding of how learners describe their experiences offering important implications for understanding short-term learning events.

Originality/value

The findings provide researchers studying short-term learning in its natural setting a new method to understand how learners make sense of their individual experience. Further, designers of short-term learning experiences may gain insights into their unique activities and indications of where additional guidance and scaffolds will improve small learning moments.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

Funding: This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 1639915. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

Citation

Nixon, J., Halverson, E., Stoiber, A. and Garbacz, A. (2021), "“I played a song with the help of a magic banana”: assessing short-term making events", Information and Learning Sciences, Vol. 122 No. 3/4, pp. 246-269. https://doi.org/10.1108/ILS-08-2020-0184

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2021, Emerald Publishing Limited

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