The impact of makerspaces on self-efficacy and belonging

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2023-09-10

Authors

Andrews, Madison Elise

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Abstract

In recent years, makerspaces have become increasingly common features of undergraduate engineering programs. These spaces give students and instructors access to rapid prototyping technology and facilitate the incorporation of a wide variety of design projects into the engineering curriculum. Here, I explore how the use of a university makerspace in course projects impacts students’ attitudes towards design, engineering and technology. In partnership with a makerspace at a large, public institution in the southwest, I surveyed undergraduate students in 8 unique courses. Each course incorporated a makerspace-based project, but courses varied by student year, department, subject matter, and project complexity. Each student completed a survey at the beginning and end of the semester, before and after completing a course project in the makerspace. Responses were matched by student IDs and linked to university records, resulting in an analytical sample size of n=213 students who completed both surveys. Eighteen paired t-tests were used to analyze whether and how these factors changed within individual students over the course of one semester, nine on a sample of students who did visit the makerspace and nine on a control group who did not. Analyses revealed that students who visited the makerspace as a part of a course assignment showed significant gains in measures of innovation orientation, design self-efficacy, innovation self-efficacy, technology self-efficacy, belonging to the makerspace and belonging to the engineering community. The control group, who did not visit, showed significant gains in only technology self-efficacy. Subsequently, repeated measures analyses of variance on the sample of students who visited the makerspace revealed significant main effects of student classification, gender, and race, as well as interactional effects of both student classification and race with time.

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