EXPLORING THE BIDIRECTIONAL INFLUENCE OF FAMILY AND MATERIAL INTERACTIONS ON YOUTH’S SITUATIONAL INTEREST

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ABSTRACT

 

My study addresses a gap in the research about interest in the learning sciences by investigating how family and material interactions in hands-on making activities influence and are influenced by youth’s situational interest development during engineering making workshops in community libraries and museum spaces. Previous studies have shown the influence of parental involvement and the use of materials on interest development. Still, the impact of youth’s interactions with their families and materials has not been fully explored. I draw from a sociocultural understanding of interest development to conceptualize situational interests as short-term interests that interact with the environment, previous experiences, and complex interest pathways. In this qualitative study, I investigate the following question: how do interactions with family members and material resources bidirectionally influence youth’s situational interest within intergenerational engineering making workshops? As part of a larger design-based research project, this thesis focused on engineering workshops held in three libraries and two museums. Families used littleBits prototyping tools in these one-hour workshops to invent artifacts that solved engineering problems. I used interaction analysis to analyze video data capturing the making process of 17 families within seven engineering workshops. Findings showed: a) youth’s situational interest development was supported by the balance of family interactions, adult involvement, and parental facilitation, and b) materials, tools, and resources in the workshop impacted both family interactions and youth’s situational interest development through the process of hands-on and joint making. This thesis shows aspects of making workshops for family learning that can be designed to support youth’s interests in engineering and inventing. Additionally, it adds to the literature around situational interest in informal settings, providing evidence for the bi-directional and interwoven influences on youth’s situational interest development. situational interest, family learning, making, interaction analysis, engineering workshops

            EXPLORING THE BIDIRECTIONAL INFLUENCE OF FAMILY AND MATERIAL INTERACTIONS ON YOUTH’S SITUATIONAL INTEREST

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