Abstract

Reframing failure, individual problem solving, and access to technology are signatures of the “maker movement,” which directly inspired university makerspaces across the globe. In particular, university makerspaces have become a significant resource to students taking courses that require the creation of tangible prototypes. While research investigating a student’s experience prototyping in a makerspace is growing rapidly, not much has been done to investigate the student prototyping experience in exclusively virtual settings. The goal of this study is to identify trends in the virtual prototyping experience with intentions of informing university instructors, makerspace facilitators, and students of where to anticipate struggles and frustration with the virtual prototyping experience. This study uses journey maps (a qualitative design method) to investigate the virtual prototyping experience for 12 undergraduate students, of diverse academic disciplines, at an R1 university in the United States. Results from this study suggest that the functional prototyping experience (which emphasizes independent contributions towards a tangible product) generates more emotional volatility than the experiential prototyping experience (which emphasizes collaborative efforts toward a final prototype). Other notable results include statistically significant differences between Female and Male self-reported emotional levels at the beginning of the experiential prototype journey.

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