Creating a STEAM Map: A Content Analysis of Visual Art Practices in STEAM Education

  • Christine Liao


Using content analysis as the research method, this study analyzed STEAM perspectives on and approaches to art education, arts integration, and the STEAM community, in general, to map the diverse approaches to STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math) education and the relationships between them. As the interest in STEAM education increases in recent years, discussions of STEAM curriculum practices also surge. However, what constitutes as STEAM curriculum remains vague. This study attempts to provide a visual map to locate different STEAM practices in order to understand how art is used in the STEAM curriculum. I start by discussing what STEAM education is and by reviewing a range of approaches to it to provide a foundation based on which educators can make their own inquiries into and create their own practices about STEAM. Based on my analysis of existing discussions focused on STEAM curricula and projects/lessons, I created the STEAM map presented in the current study to locate projects in relation to their emphasis on specific elements and goals. The goal of creating a STEAM map is to foster educators’ ability to visualize current STEAM practices and to envision as yet unmapped spaces for future directions. Through this work, educators will have a basis to see their STEAM practices/curriculum in perspective and to think beyond the limitations of STEAM.


STEAM Art Education Arts Integration Content Analysis 


  1. Ahn, C. (2015). EcoScience + Art initiative: Designing a new paradigm for college education, scholarship, and service. STEAM Journal, 2(1), Article 11. Scholar
  2. Anderson, L. W., & Krathwohl, D. R. (Eds.). (2001). A taxonomy for learning, teaching, and assessing: A revision of Bloom’s taxonomy of educational objectives. New York: Longman.Google Scholar
  3. Angier, N. (2010, October 5). STEM education has little to do with flowers. New York Times. p. D2.Google Scholar
  4. Barnett, H., & Smith, J. R. A. (2013). Broad vision: The art & science of looking. The STEAM Journal, 1(1), Article 21. Scholar
  5. Bequette, J. W., & Bequette, M. B. (2012). A place for art and design education in the STEM conversation. Art Education, 65(2), 40–47.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bertram, V. (2014). STEM or STEAM? We’re missing the point. Retrieved from
  7. Bevan, B., Gutwill, J. P., Petrich, M., & Wilkinson, K. (2015). Learning through STEM-rich tinkering: Findings from a jointly negotiated research project taken up in practice. Science Education, 99(1), 98–120.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Blair, J. M. (2015). BioShocked: environmental game design. School Arts, 114(8), 34–35.Google Scholar
  9. Boss, S. (2011, September 20). Project-based learning: A short history. Retrieved from
  10. Buechley, L. (2013, October). Thinking about making. Presented at the FabLearn Conference, Palo Alto, CA. Retrieved from
  11. Bush, S. B., Cox, R., & Cook, K. L. (2016). A critical focus on the M in STEAM. Teaching Children Mathematics, 23(2), 110–114. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Catchen, R. D., & DeCristofano, C. (2015). What’s wrong with interpretive dance? Embracing the promise of integrating the arts into STEM learning. The STEAM Journal, 2(1), Article 9. Scholar
  13. Chachra, D. (2015, January 23). Why I am not a maker. Retrieved from
  14. Ciampaglia, S. (2014). Critical pedagogy 2.0: Researching the visual culture of marketing with teenage coresearchers. Studies in Art Education, 51(6), 359–369.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Ciampaglia, S., & Richardson, K. (2014). The Plug-in studio: Art education for the maker age. Presented at the FabLearn 2014, Stanford, CA: Stanford University. Retrieved from
  16. Cross, N. (2011). Design thinking: Understanding how designers think and work. New York: Berg.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Dhanapal, S., Kanapathy, R., & Mastan, J. (2014). A study to understand the role of visual arts in the teaching and learning of science. Asia-Pacific Forum on Science Learning and Teaching, 12(2), 12.Google Scholar
  18. Donar, A. (2011). Thinking design and pedagogy: An examination of five Canadian post-secondary courses in design thinking. Canadian Review of Art Education, 38, 84–102.Google Scholar
  19. Dougherty, D. (2012). The maker movement. Innovations, 7(3), 11–14.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Dunning, B. (2013). Can we be clear on something? It’s STEM, not STEAM. Retrieved from
  21. Duriau, V. J., Reger, R. K., & Pfarrer, M. D. (2007). A content analysis of the content analysis literature in organization studies: Research themes, data sources, and methodological refinements. Organizational Research Methods, 10(1), 5–34. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Eger, J. (2013).! STEAM Journal, 1(1), Article 8. Scholar
  23. Eisner, E. W. (2002). The arts and the creation of mind. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
  24. Fontes, K. (2015, January). Art is awesome! Creating using LEGO animation. STEAMed, 22–23.Google Scholar
  25. Fouad, N. A., & Singh, R. (2011). STEMMING the tide: Why women leave engineering. Milwaukee, WI: University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Retrieved from
  26. Gerstein, J. (2013, July 23). STEAM and maker education: Inclusive, engaging, self-differentiating. Retrieved from
  27. Gibbons, E. (2015). Expressive organic forms. School Arts, 115(1), 29–31.Google Scholar
  28. Giordano, K. (2015). The physics of sitting. School Arts, 115(1), 20–21.Google Scholar
  29. Gogus, A. (2015). Reconceptualizing liberal education in the 21st century: The role of emerging technologies and STEAM fields in liberal education. In X. Ge, D. Ifenthaler, & J. M. Spector (Eds.), Emerging technologies for STEAM education: Full STEAM ahead (pp. 277–292). New York: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Goldberg, M. (2011). Arts integration: Teaching subject matter through the arts in multicultural settings (4th ed.). Boston: Pearson.Google Scholar
  31. Grenzfurthner, J., & Schneider, F. A. (n.d.). Hacking the spaces. Retrieved from
  32. Gross, K., & Gross, S. (2016). Transformation: Constructivism, design thinking, and elementary STEAM. Art Education, 69(6), 36–43.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Gude, O. (2013). New school art styles: The project of art education. Art Education, 66(1), 6–15.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Gustlin, D. (2014). Why add art to STEAM? Retrieved from
  35. Guyotte, K. W., Sochacka, N. W., Costantino, T. E., Kellam, N. N., & Walther, J. (2015). Collaborative creativity in STEAM: Narratives of art education students’ experiences in transdisciplinary spaces. International Journal of Education and the Arts, 16(15), 1–38.Google Scholar
  36. Guyotte, K. W., Sochacka, N. W., Costantino, T. E., Walther, J., & Kellam, N. N. (2014). STEAM as social practice: Cultivating creativity in transdisciplinary spaces. Art Education, 67(6), 12–19.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Halverson, E. R., & Sheridan, K. M. (2014). The maker movement in education. Harvard Educational Review, 84(4), 495–504.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Hanushek, E. A., Jamison, D. T., Jamison, E. A., & Woessmann, L. (2008). Education and economic growth: It’s not just going to school but learning that matters. Education Next, 8(2), 62–70.Google Scholar
  39. Hare, T., & Feierabend, J. (2015). Wondrous watercolor cell illustrations. School Arts, 115(1), 36–37.Google Scholar
  40. Hodara, S. (2014, July 25). Putting the A in STEAM. New York Times. Retrieved from
  41. Hsieh, H.-F., & Shannon, S. E. (2005). Three approaches to qualitative content analysis. Qualitative Health Research, 15(9), 1277–1288. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Joe, F. (2017). STEAM teaching and learning. China Science & Technology Education, 253, 6–7.Google Scholar
  43. Joksimovic-Ginn, B. (2014). Can art stress? The STEAM Journal, 1(2), Article 16. Scholar
  44. Jolly, A. (2014, November 18). STEM vs. STEAM: Do the arts belong? Education Week: Teacher. Retrieved from
  45. Knochel, A. (2013). Histochemical seeing: Scientific visualization and art education. Studies in Art Education, 54(2), 187–190.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Krigman, E. (2014, February 13). Gaining STEAM: Teaching science through art. Retrieved from
  47. LaJevic, L. (2013). Arts integration: What is really happening in the elementary classroom? Journal for Learning Through the Arts, 9(1), 1–28.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Larmer, J., & Mergendoller, J. R. (2010). The main course not dessert. Novato, CA: Buck Institute for Education. Retrieved from
  49. Lewis, A. L. (2015). Putting the “H” in STEAM: Paradigms for modern liberal arts education. In X. Ge, D. Ifenthaler, & J. M. Spector (Eds.), Emerging technologies for STEAM education: Full STEAM ahead (pp. 259–276). New York: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Maeda, J. (2012, October 2). STEM to STEAM: Art in K-12 is key to building a strong economy. Retrieved January 17, 2015, from
  51. Maeda, J. (2013). STEM + Art = STEAM. The STEAM Journal, 1(1), Article 34. Scholar
  52. Markham, T. (2012). STEM, STEAM, and PBL. Retrieved from
  53. Marshall, J. (2014). Transdisciplinarity and art integration: Toward a new understanding of art-based learning across the curriculum. Studies in Art Education, 55(2), 104–127.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Mayring, P. (2000). Qualitative content analysis. Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 1(2). Retrieved from
  55. McDonald, N. (2010). Handbook for K-8 arts integration: Purposeful planning across the curriculum. Boston: Pearson.Google Scholar
  56. Miller, A. (2014). PBL and STEAM education: A natural fit. Retrieved from
  57. Munster, A. (2005). Why is BioArt not terrorism?: Some critical nodes in the networks of infomatice life. Culture Machine, 7(0). Retrieved from
  58. National Art Education Association. (2014, April). Position statement on STEAM education. National Art Education Association. Retrieved from
  59. Nicolescu, B. (1997, November). The transdisciplinary evolution of the university: Condition for sustainable development. Retrieved from
  60. Ossola, A. (2014, December 3). Is the U.S. focusing too much on STEM? Retrieved from
  61. Patton, R., & Knochel, A. (2017). Meaningful makers: Stuff, sharing, and connection in STEAM curriculum. Art Education, 70(1), 36–43.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Peppler, K. A., & Bender, S. (2013). Maker movement spreads innovation one project at a time. The Phi Delta Kappan, 95(3), 22–27.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Pomeroy, S. R. (2012, August 22). From STEM to STEAM: Science and art go hand-in-hand. Retrieved from
  64. Riley, S. (2013, December 18). Pivot point: At the crossroads of STEM, STEAM and arts integration. Retrieved from
  65. Robin, J. (2011). What project based learning isn’t. Retrieved from’t
  66. Sanders, M. E. (2008). STEM, STEM education, STEMmania. The Technology Teacher, 68(4), 20–26.Google Scholar
  67. Silverstein, L. B., & Layne, S. (2010). What is arts integration? Retrieved from
  68. Steele, B. (2013). Something about STEM drives women out. Retrieved from
  69. STEM to STEAM. (n.d.). Retrieved from
  70. Stroksdieck, M. (2011). STEM or STEAM? Retrieved from
  71. Thomas, J. W. (2000). A review of the research on project-based learning. San Rafael, CA: Autodesk Foundation. Retrieved from
  72. Trilling, B., & Fadel, C. (2009). 21st century skills: Learning for life in our times. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.Google Scholar
  73. Vande Zande, R. (2010). Teaching design education for cultural, pedagogical, and economic aims. Studies in Art Education, 53(1), 248–261.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  74. Ward, R. A., & Albritton, J. (2015, October). Math meets cubism. STEAMed, 23–27.Google Scholar
  75. Watson, A. D. (2015). Design thinking for life. Art Education, 68(3), 12–18.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  76. Watson, A. D. (2016). Revving up the STEAM engine. Art Education, 69(4), 8–9.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  77. White, H. (2010, November). STEAM – Not STEM whitepaper. Retrieved from
  78. Wynn, T., & Harris, J. (2012). Toward a STEM + arts curriculum: Creating the teacher team. Art Education, 65(5), 42–47.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  79. Yakman, G. (2008). ST∑@M education: An overview of creating a model of integrative education. In Research on technology, innovation, design and engineering (TIDE) teaching (pp. 335–358). Salt Lake City, UT.Google Scholar
  80. Yakman, G. (2012). Recognizing the A in STEM education. Middle Ground, 16(1), 15–16.Google Scholar
  81. Yakman, G., & Lee, H. (2012). Exploring the exemplary STEAM education in the U.S. as a practical educational framework for Korea. Journal of the Korean Association for Science Education, 32(6), 1072–1086.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  82. Zakaria, F. (2015, March 26). Why America’s obsession with STEM education is dangerous. Retrieved from
  83. Zylinska, J. (2009). Bioethics in the age of new media. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Christine Liao
    • 1
  1. 1.University of North Carolina WilmingtonWilmingtonUSA

Personalised recommendations