Postulating that the act of making stimulates learning, a widespread effort prompted the integration of makerspaces on college campuses. From community colleges to research-based higher education institutions, large investments were and still are being made to advance the making spirit and encourage non-traditional learning in academic settings. While optimistic that students are taking advantage of the makerspace resources and are in fact learning from their experiences, there needs to be a more direct effort to understand the learning, if any, that is occurring in the makerspace. The makerspace is labeled as an open, learning environment where students are able to design, create, innovate, and collaborate [1, 2]. In response, we investigate the claims of this statement through the research question: how is learning experienced by female students in an academic makerspace? Female students in STEM, especially those engaged in makerspaces, have unique and uncharacteristic experiences that can lend way to various learning and pedagogical implications. The purpose of this paper is to highlight our methodological process for incorporating in-depth phenomenologically based interviewing and for utilizing open and axial coding methods to establish grounded theory. We interview five female students through purposeful maximum variation sampling and snowball sampling. Through a rigorous and iterative data analysis process of the ten-percent of the overall, we created a preliminary coding scheme that articulates how learning is occurring, what design skills are being learned, and what life skills are being learned. These preliminary findings show that not only are these female students learning by doing and learning how to problem solve in design, but they are also overcoming fears, developing patience, and communicating ideas in these design-oriented makerspaces.

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