LUMAT special issue discusses STEAM in education

The special issue “Promoting STEAM in education” has now been published in the LUMAT journal. STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art/aesthetics/architecture/all and mathematics) has been an increasingly popular approach in education. However, what it entails theoretically and practically, is still unclear. 

To address the challenges of the 21st century skills, there is a need to educate citizens capable of seeing and exploring the interconnections within STEM subjects and between STEM and other areas. It is also important to educate teachers who can support students in becoming STEAM-literate citizens. We need to educate students who understand basic science and mathematics, and in addition to that, who are curious and knowledgeable about how things work (engineering), and how modern technology is affecting our life. In addition, it will be required from tomorrow’s leaders to be able to make connections between fields, such as between  STEM and arts (STEAM), STEM and social sciences, STEM and policies.

The STEAM-special issue includes an editorial and three articles that challenge us to rethink STEAM education, reveal the potential of STEAM, and offer ideas for future research. 

Articles offer insights on the practical applications of STEAM education

The editorial (Jaana Herranen, Erik Cyrus Fooladi, and Marina Milner-Bolotin) introduces some key notions, discourses, and challenges of STEAM education, as a relatively novel concept and briefly discusses the history of STEAM and its evolution over the last decades. It also problematizes STEAM and its roots through asking a question: What is “A” in STEAM representing?

The first article (Seamus Delaney and Daniel White), “Full STEAM ahead, but who has the   map? – A PRISMA systematic review on the incorporation of interdisciplinary learning  into  schools”, reviews existing literature on interdisciplinary STEAM learning and teaching in high schools. The reviewed articles showed that improved learning outcomes, such  as  better  results in academic tests, could be achieved in project- and  problem-learning environments.   In  addition,  the authors  find  that  STEAM-based  approaches  in  interdisciplinary  teaching could potentially increase  student  collaboration and interaction with professionals. 

The  second  article  “Promoting  STEAM  learning  in  the  early  years:  ‘Pequeños Científicos’  Program”  (Valeria  Cabello,  Maria  Loreto  Martinez,  Solange  Armijo  Solis, and Lesly Maldonado) describes and examines a non-formal education program among   3–10-year old children. The  article  discusses the strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities of the program based on the perceptions  of  the  students,  teachers,  and  educators. A  number  of  strengths  of  the  program  were  identified: the  students  were  engaged  in  learning processes; holistic perspectives  and  integration  between  STEM  and  ‘A’  were achieved  and  clear  signs were found of increased motivation and interest among the participants. One of the major  challenges  identified  in this  program  was  the handling  of  young  learners’ emotions, frustration and behavior by an all-scientists/artist staff with limited or no pedagogical background in handling such issues.

The third article “Promoting student interest in science: The impact of a science theatre project” (Lydia  Schulze  Heuling) reports  on  a science  theatre  project in  a  heterogeneous teaching context in a disadvantaged area, and its effects on students’ interest in STEM and their artistic expression. The quantitative analysis presented in the  study  indicated an increased student interest  in  the  topic  of  galvanization,   and physics  and  chemistry  in  general. In  addition,  the  approach  resulted  in  increased student appreciation of artistic practices and positive classroom spirit, knowledge of cultural  practices, and student self-confidence.