Throughout literature there are two definitions of STEAM: Arts subjects working alongside a STEM curriculum (Piro, 2010), or Arts subjects integrated with STEM learning (Boy, 2013; Gray & Colucci-Gray, 2014; Radziwill, Benton, & Moellers, 2015; Taylor, 2016). Eisner (2003, 2004) contends that the Arts model best educational practice, awakening our senses and helping to construct our human consciousness. Integrated arts appproaches are recommended (Russell-Bowie, 2015) yet the Arts are often marginalised (Ewing, 2010). Despite these widely acknowledged benefits, lack of clarity persists concerning the place of STEAM in the curriculum (Bequette & Bequette, 2012; Daugherty, 2013; Sochacka, Guyotte & Walther, 2016, Taylor, 2016; Watson & Watson, 2013). Additionally, cuts to preservice training and professional learning mean alternative strategies for building teachers’ capacity in these areas should be explored (Barton, Baguley & MacDonald, 2013).
Significance and aims of the research
‘Silos’ of learning can create misunderstandings, mistrust, and knowledge fragmentation (Ewing, 2010). An Arts Immersion approach (interdisciplinary use of arts languages) creatively responds to an overcrowded curriculum and fosters equity, engagement and deeper learning.
To explore and investigate whether an Arts Immersion approach has benefits for students
To develop a model for a specialist Arts teacher and a generalist teacher to deliver an Arts Immersion approach
The researcher/arts specialist worked with a Year 6 generalist teacher using Critical Participatory Action Research to transform our practices through close examination and reflection. Data from four Action research cycles (Zuber-Skerritt, 1995) was analysed through Practice Architectures regarding aspects within each practice - semantic space, physical space-time, and social space (Kemmis et al., 2014); and the interactive relationships between practices through Ecologies of Practice (Kemmis et al., 2013).
Students were more engaged in learning, had fun, and retained knowledge
Students demonstrated deeper levels of understanding and positively changed learning identities
Wider, more inclusive pedagogy improved equity in the classroom
Professional learning onsite was very successful
Implications for further educational research
Recommended further exploration - an overcrowded curriculum, equity, STEAM learning, Arts Immersion (Arts across the curriculum), and onsite Professional Learning to broaden pedagogy - in a variety of settings. Transforming education from the classroom may be more successful than waiting for the effects of arts advocacy to overcome resistance at administrative and policy levels.
Session Plan: Performance and Presentation (30 mins)
Introduction and performance using smash poetry (presenter): 7 mins
Presentation on the topic of STEAM as it relates to my research: 15 mins
Question time: 7 mins