While there are many benefits of making and makerspaces, one of the greatest challenges of implementing making in K–12 schools is the question of how to assess collaborative, cross-disciplinary, and iterative making practices and outcomes. We believe that it is crucial for educators to design and implement making activities with assessment in mind, to be able to understand what students learn, provide meaningful support for individual students, and connect making activities with learning in other disciplines. Since making requires constant interaction between learner and teacher, the teacher’s ability to assess and facilitate student learning in the process, without being overly prescriptive, is critical.

This research project aims to address the lack of assessment strategies in making contexts. We are using an embedded assessment approach in which teachers collect rigorous forms of evidence of student learning, without constraining or interrupting complex and iterative making processes. To do this, we will iteratively develop embedded assessment toolkits with maker educators and teachers, and establish a transformative process where participating teachers can successfully adopt embedded assessments within middle school STEM curriculum. We will then investigate the potential of embedded assessment in terms of both teachers’ practices and students’ learning. In this design-based research project, we plan to address three main research questions:

  1. What might embedded assessment in maker activities look like?
  2. How do teachers codesign embedded assessments for maker-centered learning, and practice the skills necessary for implementing them?
  3. How does embedded assessment in making support the student learning experience?

The project is an exciting collaboration between the MIT Teaching Systems Lab and Maker Ed, and funded by NSF. We will be working with maker coaches and educators in schools in Charlottesville, VA and San Mateo, CA. Our process, products, and research findings will be shared here throughout our journey through assessment in making!

YJ Kim
Peter Kirschmann
Louisa Rosenheck
Jessica Parker
Stephanie Chang
Jakki Spicer