Nowadays, coding with computers has become a form of creative expression that enables the production of useful and socially significant artefacts. As automation and 3D printers replace workers in manufacturing and construction, the ability to code and design is becoming crucial for citizenship and future employment. Coding and design are still seen by many as challenging activities for expertly trained individuals. However, advances in technology have led to the development of increasingly affordable and accessible design and fabrication tools that have reached a wide range of users, including children and youth.
This dissertation seeks to examine applications of computational design and 3D printing in coding learning activities for youth under the lens of constructionism. It presents three years of empirical research on computational design and 3D printing workshops in formal and informal learning environments. During the conducted workshops, the participants used the basic logic structures and coding practices to design and fabricate personally meaningful artefacts. The workshops were evaluated using a mixed-methods approach and refined through iterative circles of design and research. The findings suggest that the workshops' approach was favourably received by both youth and teachers and significantly increased learning gains, enjoyment and motivation for coding activities. Challenges and barriers for using the combination of computational design and 3D printing in the classroom are identified, and teaching and learning strategies as possible solutions are discussed.
The thesis contributes to research on coding education and human-computer interaction by providing 1) recommendations and design principles to adequately address content and pedagogical issues of integrating 3D printing technologies and coding into STEAM learning activities and 2) an in-depth understanding of the potential role of 3D printing technology in constructionist coding education and youth's life-worlds.
Betreuerin: Prof. Ira Diethelm