“STEAM education,” with its addition of “arts” to STEM subjects, is a complex and contested concept. On the one hand, STEAM builds upon the economic drivers that characterize STEM: an alignment of disciplinary areas that allegedly have the greatest impact on a developed country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). On the other hand, the addition of the arts may point to the recovery of educational aims and purposes that exceed economic growth: for example, by embracing social inclusion, community participation, or sustainability agendas. Central to understanding the different educational opportunities offered by STEAM is the interrogation of the role—and status—of the arts in relation to STEM subjects. The term “art” or “arts” may refer, for example, to the arts as realms/domains of knowledge, such as the humanities and social science disciplines, or to different ways of knowing and experiencing the world enabled by specific art forms, practices, or even pedagogies. In the face of such variety and possibilities, STEAM is a portmanteau term, hosting approaches that originate from different reconfigurations or iterative reconfiguring of disciplinary relationships. A critical discussion of the term “STEAM” will thus require an analysis of published literature alongside a review and discussion of ongoing practices in multiple field(s), which are shaped by and respond to a variety of policy directions and cultural traditions. The outcome is a multilayered and textured account of the limitations and possibilities for and relational understandings of STEAM education.
Laura Colucci-Gray, Pamela Burnard, Donald Gray, and Carolyn Cooke
Abigail Konopasky and Kimberly Sheridan
The Maker Movement is a broad international movement celebrating making with a wide range of tools and media, including an evolving array of new tools and processes for digital fabrication such as 3D printers and laser cutters. This article discusses who makers are in education, what that making entails, and where that making happens. akers are people of all ages who find digital and physical forums to share their products and processes. Educators and researchers in the Maker Movement in education are working to expand who makers are, providing critiques of traditional conceptions of maker identities and seeking to broaden participation in terms of race, gender, socioeconomic status, and ability status. Making entails a diversity of media, tools, processes and practices. Likewise, the Maker Movement in education purposefully transcends academic disciplines, drawing both on traditional academic subjects like engineering and math along with everyday life skills like sewing, carpentry and metalwork. Making happens across a variety of spaces where there is an educational focus, both informal (museums, community centers, libraries, and online) and formal (from K–12 to higher education, to teacher education). In these spaces, the specific goals and practices of the supporting organizations are woven together with those of the Maker Movement to support a range of learners and outcomes, including family inquiry, equity, access to technology, virtual community and support, social interaction, creativity, engineering education, and teacher candidate confidence. Maker education is often framed as a reaction to more “traditional” educational approaches and frequently involves the incorporation of making into STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) and STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and math) approaches.
Just as the factory assembly line replaced the farmer’s plow as the symbol of economic productivity at the beginning of the 19th century, so the computer and its software have replaced the assembly line at the beginning of the 21st century. In the United States, and in countries around the world, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) education has moved front and center in national discussions of both productivity and social justice. This article will include (a) a review of how the world of work has changed, with a special focus on the history and impact of digital technology since ca. 1970; (b) lessons from research about K-12 education—elementary, middle school, and secondary education—and about higher education; and (c) research about how to increase access to education, and facilitate achievement, for those who traditionally have been under-represented in STEM education. Rigorous research has demonstrated how psychological and sociological factors (e.g., self-concepts, instructor expectations, and social support) often make the difference between student success and failure. To fully contextualize consideration of STEM education, many advocate broadening STEM to STEAM by including the arts, or the arts and humanities, in building educational programs. In today’s world a young person who wishes to secure a better life for himself or herself would be well advised to study STEM. Furthermore, a nation that wishes to advance economically, while reducing the gap between the have’s and the have-not’s, should strengthen its STEM education infrastructure.
Stephen M. Ritchie
STEM education in schools has become the subject of energetic promotion by universities and policymakers. The mythical narrative of STEM in crisis has driven policy to promote STEM education throughout the world in order to meet the challenges of future workforce demands alongside an obsession with high-stakes testing for national and international comparisons as a proxy for education quality. Unidisciplinary emphases in the curriculum have failed to deliver on the goal to attract more students to pursue STEM courses and careers or to develop sophisticated STEM literacies. A radical shift in the curriculum toward integrated STEM education through multidisciplinary/ interdisciplinary/ transdisciplinary projects is required to meet future challenges. Project-based activities that engage students in solving real-world problems requiring multiple perspectives and skills that are authentically assessed by autonomous professional teachers are needed. Governments and non-government sponsors should support curriculum development with teachers, and their continuing professional development in this process. Integrating STEM with creative expression from the arts shows promise at engaging students and developing their STEM literacies. Research into the efficacy of such projects is necessary to inform authorities and teachers of possibilities for future developments. Foci for further research also are identified.