Adding an "A" in STEM Education

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Overview and Purpose

Adding the A in STEM Education is a mini-course geared to promote the importance of including art within the STEM education community. By addressing the move from STEM to STEAM when education policymakers felt STEM education missed elements that were important for innovation - design thinking and creativity. Participants will learn the difference between STEM and STEAM education and how just by adding the "A" rejuvenates STEM saturated students.

By reviewing case studies, journals, and scholarly articles, participants will analyze the impact of fusing art with core disciplines such as math and science. Amid untangling the misapprehension of art being an essential tool, this mini-course provides STEAM educational devices educators can use within the classroom. Participants will procure a STEAM lesson plan that can be added to their toolbox by improving on or creating a new art integrated content specific lesson plan.

Participants will observe how art stimulates mindful engagement within the classroom to deepen understanding of any faulty preconceived ideas students may have surrounding science, math, and engineering concepts. As students are exposed to the coalition of STEAM, they can enhance their skills in collaboration, questioning, problem-solving, and critical thinking as they tackle real-world issues and create solutions on their own.

Needs Assessment

Instructional Problem

As researchers continue to explore whether education can benefit when Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) disciplines are linked, many professionals of each discipline will still address each discipline individually. With the addition of Arts within STEM education (STEAM), many educators are not aware of how influential art can be when infused into academic disciplines. The State Education Agency Directors of Arts Education (SEADAE) defines STEAM as "an intentional, collaborative pedagogy for teachers that empowers learners to engage in real-world experiences through the authentic alignment of standards, processes, and practices in science, technology, engineering, the arts, and mathematics" (Huser, 2020). Daughtery (2013) expresses that art "improves students' performance in traditional academic subjects such as reading and mathematics" and that "in science, art can be seen as a different way of seeing the world, or a heuristic [enabling someone to discover or learn something for themselves] that leads to a different understanding of the world".

The need for expanding the STEM toolbox to include Arts and become STEAM education can benefit students to become innovative and creative within the science, engineering and math career fields. There has been a need for arts learning as it embraces solving the complex and ever-evolving needs in the workforce. Huser et. al stated, "The artistic processes of creating; presenting, performing, and/or producing; responding; and connecting are not only fundamental to arts education, they are fundamental to student success across all domains" (2020). STEAM education would provide modules that offer the opportunity to fashion students into innovative leaders that are essential to today's economy. A study by McGrath and Brown (2005) sought to illustrate that visual arts can improve cognition in STEM education. "Visual learning is an important method for exploiting students’ visual senses to enhance learning and engage the higher cognitive parts of the brain. By thinking and communicating visually, students in their study improved how they performed during experimental research tests" (Daughtery, 2013).


What is to be Learned

Learners wills be able to understand the importance and effectiveness of including Arts in STEM education. This mini course will demonstrate to learners how effective instruction in STEAM depends on the responsibility of the educator to ensure the intersection among all STEM content areas, their standards are identified and appropriately incorporated in the design of curricula, lesson plans, and student work output.

Performance Objectives

UNIT 1: The Impact of Art in Education

The participants will be able to differentiate between STEM and STEAM education and understand the impact of art integration in core disciplines by detecting significant influences on student success as evident in scholarly journals and case studies

UNIT 2:Techniques used to integrate Art in Education

Participants will determine teaching techniques of art integration applicable to their instructional context

UNIT 3: Implementation

Participants will demonstrate the application of strategies learned through evaluating lesson plans and generating an art integrated content specific lesson plan

Course Units

This mini-course includes the following units. Click the title of a unit to go to its page.



A creative mind never sleeps