Encyclopedia of Educational Innovation

Living Edition
| Editors: Michael A. Peters, Richard Heraud

Complicating STEAM: A Critical Look at the Arts in the STEAM Agenda

  • Edward P. ClappEmail author
  • S. Lynneth Solis
  • Carolyn K. N. Ho
  • Andrea Rose Sachdeva
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-981-13-2262-4_54-1


This entry offers a critical perspective of the role of the arts within the popular STEAM agenda. Most loosely defined, STEAM can be understood as incorporating the arts into the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) acronym for the purpose of introducing a focus on art and design into these four subject areas. This entry first questions what the A in the STEAM acronym actually represents. The entry then argues that a focus on any discrete set of disciplines prioritizes some domains of practice, while overlooking others. The entry goes on to encourage a more distributed approach to pedagogical practice that is less about establishing catchy acronyms that privilege some disciplines over others – and more about supporting young people and adults in becoming multimodal learners capable of making connections between and beyond the disciplines.

Understanding STEM to Understand STEAM

For many in the education field, pursuing STEAM as an approach to curricular...

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  1. Clapp, E. P., & Jimenez, R. L. (2016). Implementing STEAM in maker-centered learning. Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts, 10(4), 481–491.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Maeda, J. (2013). STEM + art = STEAM. STEAM Journal, 1(1).  https://doi.org/10.5642/steam.201301.34. Retrieved from: http://scholarship.claremont.edu/steam/vol1/iss1/34.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Xie, Y., Fang, M., & Shauman, K. (2015). STEM Education. The Annual Review of Sociology, 41, 331–357.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Yakman, G. (2008). STEAM Education: An overview of creating a model of integrative education. Graduate student thesis. Virginia Polytechnic and State University. Retrieved from: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/327351326_STEAM_Education_an_overview_of_creating_a_model_of_integrative_education.

Further Reading

  1. The STEAM Journal. Claremont: Claremont Graduate University. Retrieved from: https://scholarship.claremont.edu/steam/.

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Edward P. Clapp
    • 1
    Email author
  • S. Lynneth Solis
    • 1
  • Carolyn K. N. Ho
    • 1
  • Andrea Rose Sachdeva
    • 1
  1. 1.Project ZeroHarvard Graduate School of EducationCambridgeUSA

Section editors and affiliations

  • Tatiana Chemi
    • 1
  1. 1.University of AalborgAalborgDenmark