3D printing drives student engagement, finds new trends report

3D printing aids student engagement and the development of critical thinking, problem-solving and design thinking skills

A new report from MakerBot, Trends in 3D Printing and STEAM Education, illustrates how 3D printing is being used as a learning tool to drive engagement with students and help them develop critical thinking, problem-solving and design thinking skills.

Key findings from the report reveal that:

  • 63% of respondents use such printing to prepare their students for the workforce better, but they want a full ecosystem of resources to achieve their educational goals, not just a 3D printer
  • 65% of respondents cited that online training programs would help them to implement the technology better
  • 63% and 56% of respondents also cited lesson plans and educational webinars as useful 3D printing resources, respectively

Nadav Goshen, CEO of MakerBot, noted, “We are at a pivotal moment in education. We have seen the use of 3D printing in education increase steadily over the past years due, in part, to the availability of more products and services geared toward teachers and students.

“Affordable and easy-to-use 3D printers, training and certification programs, integrated lesson plans, and online 3D printing resources have made the technology attractive to many educational institutions. In addition, working with 3D printers can help students develop practical and usable skills that can be used outside of the classroom.”

Additional findings include:

  • Authentic learning experiences are becoming a popular new teaching method.
    Design-based learning (57%), integrated learning (51%), and collaborative learning (49%) were identified as the top teaching methods among respondents. Only 42% of respondents stated that they still use traditional learning settings with students.
  • Teaching STEAM subjects requires resources that schools may not have.
    Budget constraints (56%), insufficient equipment (45%), and lack of technical training (39%) were cited as the top challenges to teaching STEAM subjects.
  • 3D printing is widely used to develop practical skills that can be used beyond the classroom.
    Respondents cited developing problem-solving skills (63%), skill sets for future careers (63%), and creative thinking skills (63%) as their top reasons for 3D printing adoption.
  • Educators want a full 3D printing ecosystem.
    82% of respondents cited 3D printing resources (ie, lesson plans, training programs, and so on) as important factors when choosing a 3D printer.
  • Costs, reliability, and ease-of-use play important roles in decision-making.
    95% of respondents rated reliability as an important benefit, while 90% said ease-of-use was important and 89% said costs were important.

“The report revealed the shift from traditional learning environments to more interactive and engaging approaches. By teaching visualisation, design and creation via 3D printing, 3D printing opens up opportunities for students and brings ideas to life,” added Goshen.

About the study

MakerBot surveyed over 1,000 education professionals in its global network from 21-26 August 2020. Respondents were based in North America (60%), Asia (15%), Europe (14%), South America (8%), Oceania (2%), and Africa (2%). They teach a range of disciplines, including 3D printing, art and design, mathematics, engineering, language studies, history and more.

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