STEAM: The methodology that combines Sciences and Arts in collaborative projects


Society has undergone an important transformation process over the last few decades. A model of industrial society (which dates back to the 18th century) has been left behind and has given way to a model of information society , made possible by the technological advances that have occurred in the last 20 or 30 years.

Currently, a knowledge society model is gradually beginning to be installed in which the added value of professionals and citizens is no longer how much information we have access to, but rather what we are capable of doing with it.

Paradoxically, this profound social transformation has not always had an immediate impact on the school model, which for years has maintained a teaching system based on memorizing and reproducing information .

However, for some years now, educational centers have been in a process of transformation to better reflect the society in which they are immersed. A paradigm shift that prepares its students to face, with the necessary resources and tools, a future yet to be defined and that will require a high capacity for adaptation and flexibility .

Training in Science and Art STEAM

One of the most notable pedagogical approaches in this field is the STEAM methodology (acronym from the acronym in English for Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics), which aims to promote technical-scientific and artistic training in all stages educational. Of course, with a different approach, integrating and transversal .

It is an eminently practical methodology, which combines different disciplines. At first, the focus was placed solely on those of a scientific nature, such as Science, Technology, Mathematics and Engineering; however, the field of the Arts (humanistic approach) was later added, seeking an interdisciplinary synergy that would enhance creativity.

Projects, decisions and vocation

STEAM proposes a type of learning based on projects, eminently practical, in which cooperative work is fundamental and that fosters autonomy and the ability to make decisions in students.

It is important to apply a gender perspective, promoting scientific and technological vocations among girls, so that they have scientific references that broaden their perspective when choosing their studies or defining their professional career.

It also favors the development of critical thinking, the natural adoption of the scientific method and is, above all, a reflection of the interdisciplinary nature of any professional field present in society.

Makerspaces are physical work environments where you learn and work with an essentially constructivist approach . They promote group learning, through the shared use of materials, raw materials, technological devices, computer applications, etc. In this sense, they represent an ideal space to apply STEAM technology in the classroom and in the curriculum.

STEAM in the curriculum

The normative framework of the current school recognizes the development of STEM competence as key. Adopting a STEAM methodology implies conceiving classroom work as a complex, diverse and interdisciplinary reality. It means granting the student a high level of protagonism when planning their work, while enhancing their autonomy. Ultimately, it is about carrying out a real and effective transfer of the weight and leadership of classroom work, subtracting from the teacher part of the dominant role typical of more traditional pedagogical approaches.

It implies a change of role for teachers, abandoning their traditional role as the sole source of knowledge to become a catalyst for the construction of their students’ learning. In this sense, it is highly demanding from a professional point of view, but it is a necessary requirement to be able to focus on classroom work in a dynamic and effective way.

Integrate it into the curriculum

However, as with other innovative pedagogical approaches, the use of this methodology cannot become an end in itself. You cannot make the mistake of working on innovation without a properly drawn roadmap. It is necessary to understand the reason for its use and, above all, to properly integrate it into the curriculum. To do this, it must be reflected in a detailed, structured and well- founded classroom schedule .

The challenge will be based on a challenge that arises from the context of the students and that links them emotionally with a specific learning need. This need, through a process of guided research, provides them with the keys to offer a solution. The transfers they make to other situations and contexts will enable the development of deep, self-regulated learning that facilitates lifelong learning processes.

Author Bios: Naiara Bilbao Quintana is Professor of the Department of Didactics and School Organization, Ainara Romero Andonegui is Associate Professor of the Department of Didactics and School Organization, Eneko Tejada Garitano is Associate professor of the Department of Didactics and School Organization and Urtza Garay Ruiz is Professor at the Faculty of Education of Bilbao (UPV/EHU). Researcher of the Weblearner Research Group on Educational Technology all at the University of the Basque Country / Euskal Herriko Unibertsitatea