STEAM using Arts-based inquiry research for socio-emotional learning in primary education

Year: 2019

Author: Wade-Leeuwen, Bronwen, Furze, Carey

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

This paper investigates how research inform policy and practice can assist educators to imagine new possibilities for access, engagement and equity of all learners in the classroom. The new Australian Curriculum: Visual Arts questions how children learn through making and responding to artworks. Children are expected to engage with the knowledge of visual arts, develop skills, techniques and processes, and explore a variety of materials, a range of forms, styles and world contexts (ACARA, 2019).

Teaching STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Maths) approach through Arts-based inquiry at a local Catholic School commenced this year. The primary school children are learning how to interpret and communicate important scientific concepts while building on their 21st century capacities. The Pilot project was to work collaboratively with industry to bring STEAM integrated Arts programs into the classroom. The design was to engage primary children (K-6) in a whole-of-school project that would generate socio-emotive learning over a six-week continuous period.

The Arts-based inquiry method used ‘hands-on’ materials found in the art room to transform children’s imaginative ideas into a professional online e-publication using the Bookform platform. Children under the guidance of their teachers created personal emotive images and text into a collaborative publication to share with families on the school’s website, social channels and in printed form.

This paper discusses the implications of using Arts-based research inquiry to inform policy and practice in primary education settings. Focusing mainly on examples that show how a STEAM approach can encourage 21st century skills of communication, collaboration, creativity, connectivity, compassion and community of practice (Wade-Leeuwen, 2016).

During the pilot project, teachers could share the digital e-book on a smart board in the classroom and provide opportunities for meaningful classroom discussions and collaborative editing of their e-books. Follow-up interviews conducted with teachers and participant children at the end of the process will be discussed. The paper investigates the strengths and challenges using Arts-based inquiry research methodology and shows how complex relationships between researcher, industry, teachers and students can be scaffolded towards success when using new technologies.

This local Catholic primary school had become a pioneer in implementing STEAM learning and leads by example in giving teachers further autonomy to try new transdisciplinary programs & initiatives in their curriculum. Another important finding is that the latest technological approaches to learning can help foster children’s socio-emotional intelligence in a fun and playful way.