Library Header Image
LSE Research Online LSE Library Services

The trouble with STEAM and why we use it anyway

Mejias, Sam ORCID: 0000-0003-3462-3815, Thompson, Naomi, Sedas, Raul Mishael, Rosin, Mark, Soep, Elisabeth, Peppler, Kylie, Roche, Joseph, Wong, Jen, Hurley, Mairéad, Bell, Philip and Bevan, Bronwyn (2021) The trouble with STEAM and why we use it anyway. Science Education, 105 (2). 209 - 231. ISSN 0036-8326

[img] Text (The trouble with STEAM and why we use it anyway) - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution.

Download (1MB)

Identification Number: 10.1002/sce.21605


As an emerging field of theory, research, and practice, STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics) has received attention for its efforts to incorporate the arts into the rubric of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) learning. In particular, many informal educators have embraced it as an inclusive and authentic approach to engaging young people with STEM. Yet, as with many nascent fields, the conceptualization and usage of STEAM is somewhat ambivalent and weakly theorized. On the one hand, STEAM offers significant promise through its focus on multiple ways of knowing and new pathways to equitable learning. On the other hand, it is often deployed in theory, pedagogy, and practice in ambiguous or potentially problematic ways toward varying ends. This paper attempts to disentangle some of the key tensions and contradictions of the STEAM concept as currently operationalized in educational research, policy, and practice. We pay particular attention to the transformative learning potential supported by contexts where STEAM is conceptualized as both pedagogical and mutually instrumental. That is, neither STEM nor arts are privileged over the other, but both are equally in play. We link the possibilities suggested by this approach to emerging theories for understanding how designing for and surfacing epistemic practices linked to the relevant disciplines being integrated into STEAM programs may point the way toward resolving tensions in inter- and transdisciplinary learning approaches.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2021 The Authors
Divisions: Media and Communications
Subjects: L Education > LB Theory and practice of education
Date Deposited: 18 Mar 2021 00:20
Last Modified: 07 Apr 2024 07:21

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item


Downloads per month over past year

View more statistics