When we think about assessment, we might turn our minds toward grading and standardized testing. In reality, when thinking about makerspaces and assessment it is better to think in terms like evaluation, observations, and even measurements.
Assessment will always have to be different for maker and DIY spaces and the type of learning that occurs there. And we need to remember there is a difference between evaluation and assessment. Assessment looks at teaching and instruction and measures effectiveness, typically with an eye toward improvement. Evaluation on the other hand is where we look at instruction and teaching and determine the value. When we create partnerships with our peer educators, the outcomes and projects from maker activities can be assessed through grades and other methods of evaluation (portfolios, project-based learning, etc.).
There is an inquiry-based foothold to the new AASL standards framework that would work well with maker learning locations and could tie in with assessment models for making in libraries. We want our students to create, collaborate, and innovate. Being in the business of research we also want our students to think critically, research, identify problems, and arrive at solutions in their making. Essentially our students are moving through the information literacy process in their maker endeavors.
Ideas for Assessment in Your Makerspace
Makerspaces are an informal learning environment, hence the space and activities are great for informal evaluation. Badges are an excellent way to assess your making, give feedback to students, and apprise peer educators and collaborators. Badges offer a narrative into what students have learned and skills they have gained.
Portfolios, and particularly digital portfolios, offer a location to gather, share, and reflect on work. Portfolios offer an option of assessment; a strong narrative and lens into our students’ learning but also a valid alternative to more standardized methods.
How many classes am I teaching? What maker activities are we doing? What are the student numbers? How have we increased over the past year? These and many other questions can be asked in the library maker setting. As the library leader in your school, communication is key. Letting your community and administrators know what is occurring in your library is of great importance. Share your story, often, and proudly!
In my early career I was a theater teacher. Reflection and self-assessment were always an integral part of my craft as an actor, director, and theater teacher. Having my students look at their work— strengths, weaknesses, what went well, what could be better, what could change—was a tie to my own instructional practice. As a librarian and a professor, I continue to look at my work to see how it could be improved, what best worked for my community, what didn't, and what could change. The same can be done with students in maker learning spaces. Self-assessment can be completed in a myriad of ways. I am fond of the 3, 2, 1 method (Three Things I Learned, Two Things I Would Have Liked to Learn, One Thing I Would Do Differently). There are a variety of ways to adjust this evaluation method. The main objective is getting students to reflect on their maker work and practice.