What is the Pedagogy Behind a Maker Space? What Are the Benefits of This Pedagogy to Students?

“I enjoy it.  I think that would be fun.  I would probably make the most stupid design and print it on the 3D printer.”  This is what my 16 year old son said about Makerspaces.  This seems to be the general attitude and perception towards maker spaces.  They seem like a lot of fun, but most people don’t really know what to do with them.  I admit that I would enjoy messing around in a Makerspace.

Of course, a well designed Makerspace has a purpose that it is working towards.  In the article “7 things you should know about Makerspaces” the author talks about a huge 50,000 square foot facility in Millwalkee with state of the art electronic equipment, computer stations, 3D printers and powerful design software whose purpose is to come up with ways to improve the community.  As long as you are willing to work towards this purpose, it is free.

The first part of the focus for this week’s learning is “What is the pedagogy behind a Makerspace?”   I think there are two parts to this answer.  First, Makerspaces remind me of a Montessori school where student find their way through their own education.  In a Makersapce, you are in charge of what you want to be doing (within broad frameworks)  and how you are going to go about doing it. This allows students to question, experiment and and go a fast or slow as their ability and imagination will take them.

The second strong pedagogy that Makerspaces use is hand-on learning.  You are actually making things, experimenting and trying new things.  We all know that well designed hands-on learning can be very effective.

The second focus for this weeks learning is “What are the benefits for students?  Most schools can’t afford all the equipment that most Makerspaces have so they start small.  In one example from Eric Sheninger’s article “A Principal’s Reflections: Impact of a Makerspace,” he gives an example of a librarian who had a small room filled with computers and computer parts.  Student would take them apart and put them back together.  One group decided to build their own computer and created a website to share the experience.

On of the most powerful befits of Makerspaces for students is the ability to be creative, take control of their own learning and provides them a powerful experience.  While we might not be able to provide 3D printers and computer stations with expensive software on them, but we can start small and see where it will lead.


Waclawski, D. (2015) Informal Interview on 6-8-16 at 10:26 pm.

EDUCAUSE. (2013). 7 things you should know about: makerspaces. Retrieved on 6-8-2016 at 10:11 pm.  Found at https://net.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/eli7095.pdf

Sheninger, E.  A principal’s reflections: impact of a makerspace.  Retrieved on 6-8-2016 at 10:11 pm.  Found at http://esheninger.blogspot.com/2014/12/impact-of-makerspace.html.


By waclawskid

7 comments on “What is the Pedagogy Behind a Maker Space? What Are the Benefits of This Pedagogy to Students?

  1. Douglas,

    Hearing from your 16 year old son cleared up a lot of my thinking. I realize I’m reading a lot about freedom in learning and self-directed learning. Yet, I think we need to get students started first. I need inspiration and ideas to branch off from. As an example, I used crochet quite a bit before I tried my own design. I used a book that showed a variety of stitches, found one I really like, then chose variegated yarn; but this beautiful afghan was preceded by several very basic looking scarves I had seen previously. It can be overwhelming to just walk into a makerspace and be told to find a space and make something. I view learning as an apprenticeship. The student learns by mirroring the teacher and then the teacher lets go—jumping in only as needed.


    • I agree that students need direction at first. Once they get going and know what to do most students will naturally want to learn. The big questions is how to get them hooked.

  2. After reading your post I am starting to think I may be doing my posts wrong. I agree with your comment about Makerspaces being modeled after the Montessori School where students are more in charge of their education. One a side note, I always wondered what happens in those situation when students choose not to learn. It has been my experience with a few middle school students having a lack of motivation for much of anything. An educational Makerspace should have some interests those students would want to pursue or perhaps those students would rather go for an approach through Genius Hour. I am not sure if the issue stems from how a topic is approached or lack of interests.

    Great post!

  3. I like your example of the library where the students took computers apart and put them back together, then shared their process. Those types of materials are everywhere, if we’re willing to part with them. I’ve thought about doing a similar thing with cd players and boom boxes that don’t work quite right anymore. Rather than gathering dust in the attic, why not let the students tinker around with them.

  4. You nailed what was in the back of my mind the moment I heard of maker space. We all know the benefits of maker space if there is proper vision, supervision and follow-through, it can just be a goof-off space or hang-out spot. If seriously trying to build a maker space, these factors should be taken into consideration.

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