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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Teachers in the Making: An investigation of pre-service teacher experience in a maker faire setting, and the role of design thinking

  • Author(s): O'Brien, Sean
  • Advisor(s): Duque, Jason
  • Harlow, Danielle
  • et al.


This qualitative research project applies a case study approach to investigating the nature of experience and interactions of four pre-service teachers who took part in facilitating an activity for a School Maker Faire. Additionally, the research looks for evidence of design thinking as a pedagogical practice, manifested by pre-service teachers in this environment. Data was collected in the form of stimulated recall interviews and semi-structured interviews. Analysis of the data was guided by the following three questions:

• What is the experience of pre-service teachers in a Maker Faire environment?

• How do pre-service teachers interact with children in a Maker Faire?

• How do pre-service teachers display their pedagogical understanding of design thinking, in a Maker Faire environment?

Findings reveal the following four phenomena as being important influences on interaction and experience: pre-Maker Faire preparation, types of questions asked, the role of assessment, and the role of parents.

Additionally, evidence suggests relationships between these influences and a pre-service teacher’s level of adopting design thinking, however further research would be necessary in order to substantiate these findings to a degree of applicability for practitioners. This research study contributes to the growing literature on maker education and design thinking, as it applies to teacher education.

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