Choice and interest in designed learning environments: the case of FUSE Studios

Daniela K. DiGiacomo, Katie Van Horne, William R. Penuel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Purpose: Empirical investigation into the e-learning innovation, FUSE Studios, is both timely and relevant because FUSE is rapidly expanding domestically and abroad and there is continued interest in the interdisciplinary fields of information and learning sciences in the constructs of choice and interest as they relate to the provision and design of learning experiences. In particular, this paper aims to contribute to scholarly and design-based conversations on how e-learning innovations – especially those situated within the digital youth and constructionism strands of research – can be designed in ways that support robust opportunities for learning for young people (Reynolds et al., 2019). Design/methodology/approach: Drawing upon a large corpus of mixed-methods data including computer-generated activity log data, youth survey data and studio facilitator interview data, this paper examines patterns of use and interest-related experience among young people in a range of FUSE Studios settings across the USA. Findings: The results suggest that student choice within FUSE’s curricular and Studio model tends to support a broad exploration of interests across a wide range of youth, rather than a deep dive into particular Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics (STEAM) content areas. Practical implications: Alongside the broad exploration that was found to characterize the patterns of student choice in FUSE Studios, a striking number of students from those surveyed reported that FUSE supported their interest development: they liked the FUSE challenges, were always able to find something of interest to do in the FUSE Studios and saw the FUSE challenges are supportive of their current and future interests. (See similar findings in Stevens et al., 2016). We understand these student self-reported experiences as evidence that the FUSE Studios model did well to encourage meaningful, interest-driven learning experiences for youth. Originality/value: Committed to making research usable for practice, this paper offers implications for future e-learning designs that seek to make choice and interest central to the organization of activity and environment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)137-154
Number of pages18
JournalInformation and Learning Science
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - May 4 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020, Emerald Publishing Limited.


  • Choice
  • Designed learning
  • Interest
  • Mixed-methods
  • STEAM environments
  • Youth experience

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Library and Information Sciences


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