Thesis (Ed.D)

Exploring service development to scaffold cross-disciplinary critical maker-learning in a Higher Education Academic Library makerspace: A Case Study through the lens of Cultural-Historical Activity Theory


This thesis is a US-based case study that analyses the evolution of a university academic library makerspace service supporting experiential maker-learning. Tensions and contradictions are analysed around cross-disciplinary needs, and the developing pragmatics of practice to support inclusive, sustainable maker-learning. The research goal was to address the twin concerns of understanding the nature of the learning occurring and to critically appraise the particular learning affordances the library service offers in this context. Data was obtained from students and academics across disciplines and professional staff in the research contexts of maker-learning occurring in lessons, training, and free activity in the makerspace. Critical understanding was achieved through an engagement with key educational concepts relevant to maker-learning (e.g., ZPD: Zone of Proximal Development, Vygotsky, 1978) in a Cultural-Historical Activity Theory (CHAT, Engeström,1987) framework. The key findings include a new understanding of how maker-learning occurs through social interaction, scaffolded support from academics and professional staff, individual cultural interests and embodied curiosity (Radman, 2013) in the material affordances of new and older technologies. For academic library services interested in creating a more inclusive, sustainable, and genuinely cross-faculty makerspace service, the importance of developing a shared ‘common knowledge’ (Edwards, 2017) between academics, professional staff and students is observed. The potential value of critical maker-learning for all disciplines, is argued for as a key educational tool for this and other academic library makerspaces. Lastly, to support this argument, I propose and explain my original cross-disciplinary maker-learning concept of ‘Critical Material Awareness’ as a theoretical model for maker-learning design in HE, developed from Matt Ratto’s (2014) concept of ‘Critical Making’.

DOI (Digital Object Identifier)

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Curry, Robert

Oxford Brookes departments

School of Education
Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences


Year: 2021

© Curry, Robert
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