Agency by Design

Educational initiatives that emphasize making, design, engineering, and tinkering have been gaining traction in schools and organizations across the country. While maker-centered learning is not a new concept, recent and emerging trends suggest a new kind of hands-on pedagogy—a responsive and flexible pedagogy that encourages community and collaboration (a do-it-together mentality), distributed teaching and learning, and crossing boundaries.

Agency by Design (AbD) is a multiyear research initiative at Project Zero investigating the promises, practices, and pedagogies of maker-centered learning experiences.

The Framework
activities and practicesMaterials Exploration

Materials Exploration

This practice promotes noticing, play, and exploration. When learners have time to tinker with materials they can gain an understanding of the affordances, possibilities, and constraints inherent in a variety of making materials.

activities and practicesPeople, Systems, Power, Participation

People, Systems, Power, Participation

A protocol for looking critically at content and developing a sensitivity to the role(s) of power and participation in the design of objects and systems.

publicationsIdentifying What Matters

Identifying What Matters

In this essay, leaders of the Agency by Design Pittsburgh network Peter Wardrip, Jeffrey Evancho, and Annie McNamarra describe their process of pursuing documentation and assessment strategies for maker-centered learning that are based on the values educators bring to their work in schools and other settings. Using the metaphor of big rocks and little rocks as introduced by Steven Covey, the authors describe the process of identifying one’s values and documenting and assessing student learning from the perspective of one’s values. They then articulate the lessons they have learned and their suggestions for moving forward. The core findings that emerge from this work are: (a) identifying one’s values is challenging, (b) documentation requires practice, (c) one’s values are linked to one’s content, and (d) visibility supports measurement.

thinking routinesPARTES, PERSPECTIVAS, E EU


A rotina ajuda os estudantes a explorar a complexidade ao encorajá-los a olhar atentamente para os detalhes de algo, considerando uma variedade de pontos de vista, de usuários e de partes interessadas e refletindo sobre as próprias conexões e seu envolvimento com o objeto ou o sistema em questão.

Field NoteMaker Empowerment Revisited

Maker Empowerment Revisited

Agency by Design Principal Investigator Shari Tishman takes a dispositional approach to redefining “maker empowerment.”

thinking routines“換位思考” 的思考模式

“換位思考” 的思考模式


thinking routinesImagine if... Adapted for Early Childhood Education

Imagine if... Adapted for Early Childhood Education

This routine encourages divergent thinking by prompting students to think of new possibilities for an object or system. It can also encourage convergent thinking by giving students a basis from which to narrow down their ideas so they can redesign or hack an object or a system. Ultimately, this thinking routine is about finding opportunity and pursuing new ideas.

thinking routinesThink, Feel, Care

Think, Feel, Care

This routine encourages learners to consider the different and diverse perspectives held by the various people who interact within a particular system.