Core Values of Maker Learning
Learning Studios embrace the goals and methodologies of teaching and learning that have become known as Maker Learning. Maker Learning experiences share three core values: agency, authenticity, and audience. By creating projects, assessments, and other learning experiences in the spirit of these values we can help to ensure deeper learning and engagement from students in the Learning Studios.
Learning research has shown time and again that the most effective learning experiences place the student at the center of their own learning. A Learning Studio should promote student agency through choice, autonomy, and hands-on projects. When students are the ones holding the tools, agency is placed (literally) in their hands, as well. Making should empower students to make their learning intimately personal and unique to their own goals and lived experiences.
When students are given choice, autonomy, and hands-on work, the learning experience becomes authentic in a few different ways:
- When students have the agency to pursue ideas that they feel are uniquely their own, their emotional connection to the work is real – that is, affectively authentic.
- A project designed to support agency will also require that students develop new skills and understandings by building on prior knowledge. In this way their work is cognitively authentic.
- When students are empowered to work on meaningful projects using real tools (be they virtual or physical), they do work that is socially authentic. In this way students are able to engage with work of the communities in which they may someday more fully participate.
Student projects should have an audience or user in mind: often a friend, family member, other students, or oneself. For larger and longer projects, finding a new audience outside of the school – local communities or businesses – can greatly enhance project authenticity. The learning theory of Constructionism, which is a foundational theory for maker learning, explicitly promotes student creation of sharable artifacts. In considering the viewer or user of their work, students contextualize not just the place of their creation but their own place in the world.
A note on student engagement:
Agency, authenticity, and audience map neatly to Deci & Ryan’s self-determination theory‘s three pillars of autonomy, competence, and relatedness. The link between Maker Learning values and the key factors for intrinsic motivation support a high level of student engagement in learning when working in a Learning Studio environment.