What Motivates Maker Educators?

Maker and DIY Movement

What Motivates Maker Educators?

By Tony Wan     Sep 30, 2016

What Motivates Maker Educators?

Who are the people spearheading maker education? And what motivates them? These are just a few of the questions behind a new study (PDF) from SRI International on the Maker Education Initiative.

According to the report, many maker educators believe “making can help students develop real-world skills” such as creativity, problem-solving acumen, critical thinking and perseverance, along with “dispositions associated with positive work and life outcomes.” They also find that making can be both a social and self-directed activity that “builds empowerment and participants’ sense of agency.”

Here’s an interactive map that pinpoints where each survey respondent hails from.

Based on interviews with nearly three dozen community leaders, along with a survey of 492 people in Maker Ed’s online educator network, researchers found that nearly half of the respondents worked in a K-12 setting. Additionally, they “were predominantly white and the majority were women,” according to the report.

More than half of the survey respondents say they work with students in grades K-8.

Researchers also asked respondents to share how many students in their maker clubs or classes hail from underrepresented groups in STEM fields.

Maker activities may seem like fun and games, but they require ample support and preparation. The tools and resources required don’t come cheap: 92 percent of educators said information about grants were somewhat or very important. Another challenge for teachers is the need for more professional development and help in connecting maker activities to curriculum and academic standards. Others raised scheduling conflicts within the school day as a problem.

Most respondents emphasized the importance of face-to-face interactions with students and fellow makers—an understandable preference given that maker activities are often hands-on, collaborative experiences. “The beauty of online is it’s easier to do, but I think you can’t underestimate the value of you sitting in a room with somebody and talking,” said one interviewee in the report.

The report concludes by highlighting several assets integral to supporting a successful maker community, including:

  • User-friendly lessons and project plans that are easily discoverable
  • Resources aligned to academic standards such as Common Core or the Next Generation Science Standards
  • Access to information and research that can be communicated with stakeholders (such as administrators and parents)
  • Intentionally created opportunities to welcome and engage maker educators of color and those working in under-resourced neighborhoods

The report is chock-full of other insights and resources frequently used by maker educators, including a list of physical communities (such as meetups) where they congregate.

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