On July 13th, Dr. Maggie Melo and Rachel Rodney presented “Saying the Quiet Part Out Loud: EDI Considerations in a VR Makerspace,” at the MIRA (Makerspaces for Innovation and Research in Academics) Conference. This presentation showcased preliminary findings based on Dr. Melo’s recent study “Equity in the Making: Investigating Spatial Arrangements of Makerspaces and Their Impact on Diverse User Populations” investigating how students from underrepresented communities felt about a traditional makerspace through participatory action research hosted in a VR environment.
The Equity in the Making Lab designed a virtual reality (VR) makerspace to investigate how the arrangement of a makerspace communicates ideas around the environment’s purpose, values, and audience. Specifically, the Lab conducted a participatory action research (PAR) program using think-aloud reporting to identify how students from historically marginalized communities experience a makerspace for the first time. This session will provide an overview of research findings that detail the first impressions and gut reactions from participants.
In our research, participants had the opportunity to explore a traditional makerspace in VR, providing us a prime opportunity to interact and gain insight from participants. Using the VR headset’s gaze tracking technology, we were able to identify what participants looked at, how long, and how frequent. This is useful in understanding what stood out to participants on different levels, such as what they noticed first, and what aspects of the space they showed more interest in.
View this presentation recording here.