Learning in the Making

The Learning in the Making projects were among the first empirical studies of the Maker Movement in education. Alongside co-Principal Investigator Kimberly Sheridan (George Mason University), Erica and her team has taken an ethnographic and design-based approach in order to understand how and what people learn from their participation in makerspaces, and also to explore how features of these environments can be leveraged to create designed learning experiences. The team conducted ethnographic case studies of makerspaces that are rich learning sites to understand the learning arrangements and processes that emerge in these spaces and investigate how technologies are learned and used. Through collaboration with one of these sites, the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh’s MAKESHOP, the team designed a series of learning experiences that will build on MAKESHOP’s existing activities. 

The team also worked on the development, testing, and dissemination of an online critique and portfolio tool for young people participating in makerspaces across the United States. This project resulted from ethnographic work that demonstrated how informal critique of work over time plays a vital role in learning through making.  In each of the makerspaces we studied, when facilitators and/or peers engaged in reflective critique of work, the making process was more sustained and included important design practices such as wider exploration of possibilities, revision and iteration. As a result we: 1) built an online critique and portfolio system for maker projects; 2) trained mentors to use the critique and portfolio system at their makerspace sites and; 3) studied how the system impacts young makers’ learning, development, and self-efficacy.

Erica is the co-Editor of the two volume Makeology series, a collection of empirical essays exploring making, makerspaces, and makers. Order the books here!


Halverson, E. R. & Peppler, K. (2018). The Maker Movement and learning. In F. Fischer, C. Hmelo-Silver, S. Goldman, & P. Reimann (Eds.), The International Handbook of the Learning Sciences, Chapter 34.