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How do designers and engineers practice design while Making? A narrative inquiry of designers who Make

Avneet Hira (Comparative Media Studies/Writing, Massachusetts Institute of Technology Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States Of America)
Morgan Hynes (School of Engineering Education, Purdue University West Lafayette, Indiana, United States Of America)

Information and Learning Sciences

ISSN: 2398-5348

Article publication date: 29 October 2021

Issue publication date: 17 November 2021




The purpose of this paper is to understand how designers and engineers practice design while Making. Motivated by their roots in constructionist learning principles, Makerspaces are increasingly used as sites to learn design, especially in undergraduate engineering education programs. However, there has been little work on how trained designers Make and how design emerges in their Maker practices.


In this paper, a conceptual framework is constructed to identify design practices within Making informed by theories of human-centered design and designerly ways of knowing. The framework is used to analyze narratives of ten experienced designers and Makers to understand how they enact design while they Make.


The rich and compelling narratives of the participants support the proposed conceptual framework, providing qualitative evidence for how designers practice and know design while Making. This study also reports on a strong theme of realizing purpose and personal meaning while Making across the participants’ narratives that sheds light on the unique and educationally meaningful value of Making, as in Making being a venue for agentive constructivist learning.

Research limitations/implications

As an educationally meaningful practice, Making can be explored from several lenses, and this research solely uses a design lens.

Practical implications

The motivations of the study are twofold. First, to understand how designers practice human-centered design and use design knowledge while Making. Second, to support the epistemological legitimacy of Maker knowledge by establishing connections with design knowledge.


This paper contributes to the limited body of scholarly work to conceptualize experienced designers’ Maker practices. Work in this area can inform learning outcomes and performance expectations in educational settings.



The authors would like to thank the participants of this study for their time and for sharing their Maker stories with them.


Hira, A. and Hynes, M. (2021), "How do designers and engineers practice design while Making? A narrative inquiry of designers who Make", Information and Learning Sciences, Vol. 122 No. 11/12, pp. 749-773.



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