Herro, D., Quigley, C.F., Plank, H., Owens, A. (2020). Understanding Students' Peer Interactions During Making Activities Designed to Promote Computational Thinking. Journal of Education Research. Accepted.
The rise of m is largely thefor making to Although the ‘makerspace’ as a physical space in schools has gained popularity in recent years, Halverson and Sheridan (2014) aptly suggest that there is a “broad range of spaces and places” (p. 498) where making can occur including libraries, museums, non-profits, university, community and classroom settings. They point to digital and physical tools that are used to promote learning-by-doing, which include 3-D printers, robots, wearable electronics, Legos, Play-doh, cloth and a host of other items and materials.
Researchers and educators point to several reasons that makerspaces and making activities should be included in K-12 settings. Making is considered and appealing to groups of learners when compared toraditionaleducation offerings,ingoWork done in makerspaces is thought to foster students’ autonomy as well as collaborative and soft skills (Sheridan et al., 2014). Oliver (2016) argues that making is community-oriented and collaborative by nature and he suggests that teachers model meaningful peer interactions and exchanges between students to assist them in developing their ability to construct knowledge. Making activities have also been closely connected to honing computational thinking (CT) skills (decomposing problems, debugging, abstraction, iterating etc.) through opportunities to program robots, create apps or games, design or engineer solutions and revise a vast array of prototypes (Martin, 2015; Richard & Giri, 2019). Computational thinking has been a driving force in K-12 education in the last decade as it is considered an important skill for everyone because of the applied benefits in a variety of domains and professions (Wing 2006). As such, the intersection of CT and making is a current topic of interest by researchers wishing to better understand youth practices in order to direct effective pedagogy (Wagh, Gravel and Raymond, 2017). Less widely studied are students’ peer interactions during making activities that might lead to productive CT and collaboration practices. Our research is aimed at addressing that need, thus our research questions are: 1) How proficient are students at interacting with peers and communicating when collaboratively solving problems during making activities that promote computational thinking? 2) What are students’ perspectives regarding their peer interactions when collaboratively solving problems during making activities that promote computational thinking?