“Transforming Integrative Makerspace Education for STEM” (TIME for STEM)This project aims to serve the national interest by improving the quality and effectiveness of STEM education for pre-service teachers through a focus on integration of makerspace pedagogy. Makerspace education involves students working with their hands collaboratively to make, learn, explore, and share to advance their learning and success in STEM areas. “Transforming Integrative Makerspace Education for STEM” (TIME for STEM), primarily focuses on undergraduate pre-service teaching students majoring in elementary education (pre-kindergarten through fourth grade). The project builds knowledge about teaching and learning by developing, implementing, and assessing faculty development, interactive instruction, and STEM lesson plan development. This project offers a valuable opportunity to improve STEM thinking skills by formally integrating STEM concepts throughout the pre-service teacher curriculum using an interdisciplinary approach. The project utilizes a makerspace laboratory at Point Park University. Community partners, the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh, the Matt’s Makerspace Organization, and the Allegheny Intermediate Unit, partnered with Point Park University (PPU) faculty in the School of Education and the Department of Natural Science, Engineering and Technology. Utilizing qualitative research methodology, the project investigates the following research question: What do pre-service teachers (education students) and faculty members identify as areas of pedagogical growth in STEM learning and teaching in a makerspace environment? The overarching goal of TIME for STEM is to improve the quality and effectiveness of STEM education for faculty and pre-service teachers. A critical outcome of the study includes the revision of ten interdisciplinary education methods courses to emphasize STEM experiential learning through makerspace pedagogy. The evaluation plan includes extensive formative and summative assessment over three years that focuses on pre-service teachers and education faculty. At this point in the study, preliminary findings of a pre-survey indicate a varied understanding of makerspace education and its integration to STEM across two categories of professional development participates (classroom teachers and university faculty members). Currently those participants are undergoing faculty development sessions in makerspace pedagogy and in STEM content knowledge. A forthcoming post-survey and analysis of reflection statements based on the professional development sessions will further inform the growth of the participants as it relates to makerspace pedagogy and STEM content.TIME for STEM will have a multiplier effect beyond the project’s direct participants. Education students at PPU will improve their own STEM teaching and learning skills, which will benefit their future classrooms. By preparing pre-service teachers in quality and effective STEM teaching and learning, PPU will ensure students demonstrate higher levels of thinking, a growth mindset, and the skills to design, create, reflect, redesign, collaborate, communicate, problem-solve, and think critically. When students develop higher level thinking skills, they improve their mathematics and scientific achievements, which are essential for the 21st century STEM workforce. Lastly, teacher preparation programs at other universities will benefit from learning which methodologies better prepare teaching students with the theory, knowledge, and skills to facilitate makerspace education for STEM teaching and learning.
Virginia H Chambers, Point Park University, Pittsburgh PA; Kamryn S York, Point Park University, Pittsburgh PA