Agency by Design was founded as a collaboration between researchers from Project Zero and teacher practitioners with a goal of contributing to the field of knowledge and affecting deep and broad change across the educational landscape. This dynamic relationship has been particularly impactful, inspiring the participating educators and resulting in proven scalable frameworks. We are committed to this collaborative research model and are looking to current and new partnerships to co-build research-based inquiries.

Since 2012, the Agency by Design research project has focused on the promises, practices, and pedagogies of maker-centered learning. We are now engaged in a second phase of research focusing on the following three research questions:

  • How can learners make visible their ability to look closely, explore complexity, and find opportunity?

  • How can teachers qualitatively measure their students’ performance within the realm of these three core maker capacities?

  • How can we collaborate with students and teachers to design a suite of practical documentation and assessment tools best suited to the development of maker empowerment?

Oakland has been the primary site for action research since the project's beginning. As part of AbD Phase II, a group of Bay Area educators will again participate in the research as AbD Oakland Fellows, collaborating with the project's Harvard-based team to explore ideas and prototype tools. Our fellowship cohort includes educators from a range of K-12 learning environments including public schools, charter schools, independent schools, public libraries, and more. Through this research project, we aim to build long-term capacity among fellows and their schools and organizations. 

Learn more about the background of AbD here. Watch this space for updates on our research process and findings as they emerge!



By Edward P. Clapp, Jessica Ross,

Jennifer Oxman Ryan, & Shari Tishman

Foreword by Ron Berger

Afterword by Wendy Donner


Maker-Centered Learning offers educators and administrators a theoretical framework and a hands-on guide for navigating the burgeoning field of marker-centered teaching and learning. Written by a team of experts from the Agency by Design initiative at Harvard Graduate School of Education's Project Zero, this important resource identifies the core educational practices and ideas that define maker-centered learning, and introduces the essential concepts of maker empowerment and sensitivity to design.

The text explores the key characteristics of the educational environments and instructional designs under which maker-centered learning thrives, and describes unique thinking routines that foster the primary maker capacities of looking closely, exploring complexity, and finding opportunity. In addition, the authors identify the kinds of educational interventions that can support thoughtful reflection around maker-centered learning and the made dimensions of our world. Designed to be flexible, the framework for maker-centered learning presented by the Agency by Design team can be applied in a variety of environments.

If we are to equip the next generation for life and work in the decades ahead, it is vital to support maker-centered learning. Maker-Centered Learning provides insight into what it means to be truly educated, and offers tools and knowledge that can be applied anywhere learning takes place.

Available in Paperback and eBook from, and

The Agency by Design Project is generously supported by the Abundance Foundation.

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