Novice Behavior in a Makerspace: Pragmatic Pathways to Shaping CS Identity




Davis, Don Gibbs

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The behavioral investigation presented here provides initial behavioral insight into novice interactions occurring within a makerspace. Specifically, this dissertation represents an attempt to identify interactions that support nascent maker and computer science identity and skill behaviors. The data and discussions are provided in order to illuminate relations among physicality, identity, and novice behaviors within a makerspace. The discussion builds primarily on the conceptual bases of behaviorism, relational frame theory, behavioral phenomenology, and radical embodied cognition.

Through the use of a behavioral framework, the findings presented here shed new light on constructivist approaches to learning. Social context matters. The social environment provides the necessary structure for learning to happen at a makerspace. Tools alone cannot provide a makerspace or make learning happen. But, tools are important. Tools provide a hook, a purpose, a context for people to gather and construct knowledge and artifacts. Interactional histories matter. Students' lives outside of the makerspace influence what happens in the makerspace. Students' susceptibility to reinforcement from maker-initiatives will be determined by how they relate to makerspaces, makers, and CS. If makerspace components are to be used effectively to broaden CS participation, it will be necessary to purposefully design learning trajectories for identity behaviors as well as conceptual skills.

The novelty of this study and its findings is the identification, disaggregation, and articulation of the novice maker experience using a behavioral lens. The behavioral approach applied here can pragmatically inform instructional design and investigations of how making can support learning trajectories. Ultimately, this dissertation highlights pathways for future behavioral research and better behaviorally informed design of makerspace-inspired instruction that grows computer science identities and skills.


The author has granted permission for their work to be available to the general public.


behaviorism, computer science education, constructionism, embodied cognition, makerspace, relational frame theory



Interdisciplinary Learning and Teaching