In the Western world John Maeda, former president of the Rhode Island School of Design, advocated in 2013 the incorporation of the visual and performing arts into the STEM framework to enhance the creativity of learners. In this way, STEM + Arts originated and the STEAM framework has since received a lot of attention in the US and Europe. However, a broader conceptualization of STEAM was already introduced in 2009 in the national curriculum of South Korea with the aim to incorporate the 21st century goals, like creativity, problem solving and communication skills, into the learning process. The 'A' here stands for the liberal arts, including e.g. history, geography, language and arts. Within the EuroSTEAM project, we have chosen to adopt this broader interpretation of STEAM.
Although a wide variety of positioning papers on STEAM education were published in the past nine years, few research results are available which answer the simple question: “What works in STEAM education?” One of the recurring successful themes is a dedicated professional development effort for the teachers, which crosses the borders of their initial discipline. Further, the inclusion of hands-on activities is shown to raise the level of interest of the learners. Due to its historic origin, the available literature is culturally biased in favor of both the US and South Korea. In both countries, high stake central exams are in place and learners and teachers have expressed their concern about this new STEAM pedagogy in relation to these exams.
Within the EuroSTEAM project, we have written and published a paper that looks deeper into this central question to determine what actions can be taken to understand the question of “What works in STEAM education?”