Theorizing the nexus of STEAM practice

Recent advances in arts education policy, as outlined in the latest National Core Arts Standards, advocate for bringing digital media into the arts education classroom. The promise of such Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics (STEAM)–based approaches is that, by coupling Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) and the arts, new understandings and artifacts emerge that transcend either discipline. Evidence of this can be seen through fundamental shifts in both fields; in the arts, artists are expanding the creative potential for design through computational flexibility, which affords artists the ability to exceed the limitations of their tools. The infusion of the arts into STEM has shown to be equally transformative, with the emergence of tools and communities that not only engender new content understandings but also invite participation from populations historically underrepresented in STEM fields. Drawing on over a decade of research at the intersection of the arts, creativity, and new technologies from the Creativity Labs at Indiana University, this article theorizes the learning that takes place at effective couplings of STEAM to assist today's educators in realizing the potential for transformative experiences for learners of all levels. This article provides a synthesis of this past work across two compelling cases of STEAM-based tools, materials, and activities (i.e., the media-rich programming environment Scratch as well as the work the LilyPad Arduino used to create electronic textiles), incorporating findings from more than 50 peer-reviewed papers and books, and conceptually outlines an approach to “gathering STEAM” in arts education classrooms today. Implications are explored for policy makers in teacher education to think about preservice curriculum and field experiences; policy makers in arts education to think about tools needed in classrooms today; as well as how art education can play a critical role in STEM disciplines and offer solutions to address STEM pipeline challenges. Such efforts extend current and prior discussions in the arts education landscape about the use of new technologies, and draw our attention to how new technologies can be leveraged for artistic expression.

Publication Date:
Aug 25 2017
Date Submitted:
Jun 28 2019
Arts Education Policy Review
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 Record created 2019-06-28, last modified 2019-07-11

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