A Maker Studio Model for High School Classrooms: The Nature and Role of Critique in an Electronic Textiles Design Project

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Journal/Book Title/Conference

Teachers College Record






EBSCO Publishing

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Background/Context: Though the maker movement has proliferated in out-of-school settings, there remains a design challenge of how to effectively integrate maker activities into K–12 classrooms. In other contexts, though, creative design and production have historically been successfully integrated in classrooms through studio models common to the arts, architecture, and engineering. Purpose/Objective: In this paper, we leverage the features and practices of studio models from arts, architecture, and engineering education to integrate maker activities in a high school classroom. Within this Maker Studio model, students focus on designing a computational artifact and engage in practices more predominantly found in studio arts, architecture, and engineering classes such as feedback, critique, and reflection. Research Design: We conducted a case study of how a class of 23 high school students participating in a STEM elective class in teams partnered with art students to develop an interactive installation. Our analyses focus on how the structure of the feedback, critique, and reflections in the Maker Studio informed and shaped students’ design processes. Conclusions: We discuss affordances and implications of recognizing studio practices (particularly critique) as design features of maker activities, especially in high school classroom contexts, and present the Maker Studio as a viable model for integration of maker activities in classroom environments. We also characterize key features of the Maker Studio model, including the following: appreciation and support for maker processes in addition to or even above final products, integration of various structures for giving and receiving critique throughout the design process, support for interdisciplinary and collaborative project work, and engagement with diverse perspectives and expertise during critiques.