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date: 24 March 2019

STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics, with Art)

This is an advance summary of a forthcoming article in the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Education. Please check back later for the full article.

“STEAM education,” the addition of “arts” to STEM subjects, is a multi-vocal and problematic concept, reflecting many global and often conflicting drivers shaping education in current times.

While STEM has currency as an essentially economic term identifying those educational areas that have greatest impact on a developed country's GDP, the pedagogical and curricula implications are less obvious. STEAM retains this lack of educational clarity, indeed adds to it, firstly, by being itself a portmanteau term; secondly, by having varied modalities and associated purposes; and thirdly, because the terms “art” and “arts” are also used interchangeably, and often uncritically. Thus, it is unclear if “art” or “arts” refer to, for example, the arts, or specific art forms/practices, or pedagogies used in teaching art subjects or arts and humanities. It is also unclear whether STEAM is intended to imply a reconfiguration of disciplinary relationships, interdisciplinary relationships, or transdisciplinary conceptions of the subject.