Agency by Design

Educational initiatives that emphasize making, design, engineering, and tinkering have been gaining traction in schools and organizations across the country. While maker-centered learning is not a new concept, recent and emerging trends suggest a new kind of hands-on pedagogy—a responsive and flexible pedagogy that encourages community and collaboration (a do-it-together mentality), distributed teaching and learning, and crossing boundaries.

Agency by Design (AbD) is a multiyear research initiative at Project Zero investigating the promises, practices, and pedagogies of maker-centered learning experiences.

The Framework
Resources
Field NoteExploring Complexity in Qualitative Research: Designing a System for Collaborative Analysis

Exploring Complexity in Qualitative Research: Designing a System for Collaborative Analysis

Agency by Design research assistant Sarah May explores the complex nature of working with qualitative data based on her experiences collaboratively coding and analyzing AbD’s interview transcripts.

activities and practicesDesign Hunt

Design Hunt

This practice first encourages learners to observe the world around them and look for design, “in the wild,” taking a broad inventory of the designs they notice. Then it asks them to focus in on one object or system to consider the designer’s perspective or to propose redesign ideas.

thinking routinesParts, Purposes, Complexities - Adapted for Early Childhood Education

Parts, Purposes, Complexities - Adapted for Early Childhood Education

This routine encourages learners to slow down and make careful, detailed observations as they look beyond the obvious features of an object or system and think about how it works. This thinking routine can help foster curiosity as children notice details, ask questions, make connections, and identify topics for future inquiry.

publicationsIdentifying What Matters

Identifying What Matters

In this essay, leaders of the Agency by Design Pittsburgh network Peter Wardrip, Jeffrey Evancho, and Annie McNamarra describe their process of pursuing documentation and assessment strategies for maker-centered learning that are based on the values educators bring to their work in schools and other settings. Using the metaphor of big rocks and little rocks as introduced by Steven Covey, the authors describe the process of identifying one’s values and documenting and assessing student learning from the perspective of one’s values. They then articulate the lessons they have learned and their suggestions for moving forward. The core findings that emerge from this work are: (a) identifying one’s values is challenging, (b) documentation requires practice, (c) one’s values are linked to one’s content, and (d) visibility supports measurement.

publicationsParticipatory Creativity: Introducing Access and Equity to the Creative Classroom

Participatory Creativity: Introducing Access and Equity to the Creative Classroom

Participatory Creativity: Introducing Access and Equity to the Creative Classroom presents a systems-based approach to examining creativity in education that aims to make participating in invention and innovation accessible to all students. Moving beyond the gifted-versus-ungifted debate present in many of today’s classrooms, the book’s inclusive framework situates creativity as a participatory and socially distributed process. The core principle of the book is that individuals are not creative, ideas are creative, and that there are multiple ways for a variety of individuals to participate in the development of creative ideas. This dynamic reframing of invention and innovation provides strategies for teachers, curriculum designers, policymakers, researchers, and others who seek to develop a more equitable approach towards establishing creative learning experiences in various educational settings.

activities and practicesMaterials Exploration

Materials Exploration

This practice promotes noticing, play, and exploration. When learners have time to tinker with materials they can gain an understanding of the affordances, possibilities, and constraints inherent in a variety of making materials.

Field NoteMaking Circuits Work: A Learning Journey

Making Circuits Work: A Learning Journey

Agency by Design researcher Jessica Ross explores circuitry by engaging in a hands-on journey to build a flashing LED light from scratch.

thinking routinesPENSE, SINTA, SE IMPORTE

PENSE, SINTA, SE IMPORTE

Essa rotina encoraja os estudantes a considerarem as diversas perspectivas de quem interage em um sistema particular. O objetivo dessa rotina é ajudar os estudantes a entender no que as diversas pessoas que participam de um sistema pensam, o que sentem e com o que se importam de uma forma particular em função de sua posição no sistema.