Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Learning Sciences

Committee Member

Danielle C. Herro

Committee Member

Jacquelynn Malloy

Committee Member

Luke Rapa

Committee Member

Golnaz Arastoopour-Irgens


Informal Learning Spaces (ILSs) are increasing in popularity in many educational and community settings (Berman, 2020). One such ILS is a makerspace, where people participate in general activities of creating, building, designing, and tinkering (Oxman Ryan, Clapp, Ross, & Tishman, 2016). Makerspaces have been touted as spaces that provide students with opportunities to build fundamental knowledge, hone communication and social networking skills, offer intergenerational learning opportunities, fabricate artifacts for personal interests, and take an active and situated role when learning design skills (see: Barniskis, 2016; Blikstein, 2013; Cohen et al., 2017; Curry, 2016; Kajamaa & Kumpulainen, 2019; Lakind et al., 2019; Li & Todd, 2019; Quigley et al., 2017; Schad & Jones, 2020; Tomko et al., 2017). There is a lack of scholarship investigating student influences for participating in makerspaces on university campuses. There is also a need for increased research on the types of artifacts made in these spaces (Mersand, 2020; Peppler et al. 2016). Further research is needed to provide an empirical understanding of (a) why students are engaging in campus makerspaces, (b) what types of artifacts they are producing, and (c) how students are drawing connections between “making” and their in-school and out-of-school interests related to their current and/or future aspirations. To fill this gap in the literature and add to previous investigations of ILSs, I explored student perspectives and experiences of these spaces through a descriptive case study approach using a Connected Learning framework as a lens for analysis and interpretation of findings (Ito et al., 2013). This research captures rich insights from two multi-disciplinary, student-led makerspaces on a Southeastern university campus. This work demonstrates the many benefits and learning outcomes of offering a university makerspace to students, as told by their perspectives. These perspectives were also triangulated with questionnaire responses, semi-structured interviews, participant-interviews, observations, and artifact analyses. By understanding student perspectives of their makerspace practices, educators and makerspace facilitators can help students identify ways of engaging with their personal interests in meaningful ways that hold strong implications for learning and success in their academic work and future careers.



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