Relationship between self-efficacy and makerspaces?

calendar_today 2 November 2019

Interested in whether makerspaces can affect levels of self-efficacy, particularly for disadvantaged youth (See: How poverty affects people’s decision-making processes). Summarised this paper by Vongkulluksn et al (2018) for future reference.


  • Show students role models who failed 100 times
  • Provide emotional scaffolding in the beginning phase and help students choose projects


  • Self-efficacy: One’s perceived ability to learn new skills and succeed in a task one sets oneself (Bandura, 2001)
  • Informed by four sources: 1) Mastery experience 2) Vicarious experience 3) Verbal persuasion 4) Physiological/emotional reaction
  • Triadic reciprocality is a model used in social cognitive theory which explains that environmental, personal and behaviours determinants influence a person’s behaviour Design-based instruction/ design-thinking/ learning by design: Increase reasoning skill and transfer by applying knowledge to design an artefact which addresses real-world problems
Design Thinking Process Diagram
Design thinking process, visualised by Stanford’s d-school

Work by Vongkulluksn et al. (2018) studied how participation in design-based makerspaces influenced situational interest, self-efficacy and achievement emotions. Difference between activity-related and outcome-related emotions – i.e. how kids felt during the workshop or afterwards: The paper states that self-efficacy is context/domain-specific and strongly relates to activity-related emotions (whereas out-related emotions link to academic self-concept).
  • They found iterative design processes and context-specific issues (i.e. choosing too complex of a subject) can lead to ‘suboptimal outcomes’ in self-efficacy and interest
  • The paper concludes context-sensitive self-efficacy and emotion-related scaffolds can foster positive makerspace experiences. Application: Use verbal persuasion or small successive goals to maintain self-efficacy levels.
  • Failure/setback is an integral part of the design process. Application: Show role models who ‘failed’ 100 times building something
  • Design-based instruction is effective in increasing student interest in STEM (Doppelt and Schunn (2008); Ke (2014). Positive STEM interest contributes to decisions to pursue STEM careers = influence educational trajectory. A decline in self-efficacy ‘may be detrimental to the development of STEM identity’. A student may then believe they lack skills necessary to ‘be apart of the STEM community’ Vongkulluksn et al. (2018).

Interest development by Hidi and Renninger (2006)

  1. Triggered situational: triggered by relevance, humour and novelty (Sadoski, 2001) – necessary for more lasting individualised interest Renninger et al 2008
  2. Maintained situational: focus, attention and persistence – the more relevant/meaningful the task the more likely interested Renninger and Su 2012
  3. Similarities in findings from a previous post discussing research which encourages children to become agentic makers (make solutions problems they already care about)
  4. Emerging individual
  5. Well-developed individual interest


  • High levels of self-efficacy can be attributed to increased student autonomy and ownership towards learning
  • Project complexity factors into older students poor evaluation of their progress and decreased perception of self-efficacy. Supports findings that students overestimate their abilities often
  • The decline in self-efficacy between beginning and midpoint reflect challenges with overambitious goals for their projects.Application: students need to support student self-efficacy in the beginning phase / effective when coupled with teacher scaffolding in the initial decision-making process – helping students choose projects at the right level
  • Relationship between excitement and maintaining interest – Hidi and Renninger (2006) – sounds obvious
  • The emphasis of scaffolding = confusion can promote deep inquiry but only when students are able to deal with this negative emotion and have scaffolds to help resolve their confusion

Best practice of a makerspace according to Wilczynski (2015)

  1. Training is essential
  2. A clearly defined mission
  3. Promoting collaboration
  4. Access to makerspace works with not against student work schedule
  5. Staff support


There are plenty of ways the findings can be applied to future STEM workshops.
  • Beginning: Support students with the decision-making process of choosing what to build/work on
  • Show students examples of role models who ‘failed’ 100 times building something
  • Mid-process: Utilise small successive goals to maintain self-efficacy levels.