The Transdisciplinary Nature of STEAM Education: Integrating STEAM in Pre-Service Teacher Education

The Transdisciplinary Nature of STEAM Education: Integrating STEAM in Pre-Service Teacher Education

Douglas Huffman (University of Kansas, USA), Kelli Thomas (University of Kansas, USA) and James D. Basham (University of Kansas, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-2517-3.ch009

Abstract

The purpose of this chapter is to describe and explain multiple methods of integrating STEAM into the curriculum for pre-service teachers. The chapter includes both stand-alone modular methods of integration and continuous integration methods that attempt to merge STEAM concepts throughout the curriculum. The advantages and disadvantages of each method are discussed, along with the challenges teachers faces as they attempt to integrate STEAM. Recommendations are made along with suggestions for the future direction of STEAM integration as the field becomes more transdisciplinary.
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Background

According to a report by the American Academy of Arts and Science, “The lines among disciplines are blurring, leading to the emergence of new fields of study that span disciplinary boundaries and allow dramatic advances that no one field could have achieved in isolation” (AAAS, 2013). The evolving multidisciplinary, interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary nature of STEAM makes it difficult to understand how to integrate concepts into the curriculum. However, as the field evolves it is important to explore new ways of achieving the transformative potential of STEAM.

One of the challenges for the field of education is to understand how to integrate STEAM into the elementary, middle school or high school curriculum (Briener, Harkness, Johnson & Koehler, 2012; Margot & Kettler, 2019; National Research Council, 2001). There may not actually be one best way, but rather there are likely multiple ways to effectively integrating STEAM. The interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary nature of STEAM creates a situation where at times the concepts appear to be stand-alone ideas that fit into one course; however, at other times the STEAM concepts are interdisciplinary and appear to integrate throughout a courses or across multiple courses. Stevens, Sutherland and Krajcik (2009) point out that the interdisciplinary nature of fields can impact society and provide leaps in scientific knowledge, and thus it may be desirable to emphasize the interdisciplinary nature of the field using a multiple-course, integration approach.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Multidisciplinary: Where concepts and ideas from each discipline are studied as separate distinct areas.

Interdisciplinary: Where concepts and ideas from each discipline are overlapping, interlinked, and woven together.

Disciplinary Core Idea: The committee developed its small set of core ideas in science and engineering. We grouped disciplinary ideas into four major domains: the physical sciences; the life sciences; the earth and space sciences; and engineering, technology, and applications of science” (NRC, 2012, p. 31 AU28: The in-text citation "NRC, 2012, p. 31" is not in the reference list. Please correct the citation, add the reference to the list, or delete the citation. ).

Crosscutting Concepts: These concepts in the NGSS and are described as “concepts that bridge disciplinary boundaries, having explanatory value throughout much of science and engineering. These crosscutting concepts were selected for their value across the sciences and in engineering. These concepts help provide students with an organizational framework for connecting knowledge from the various disciplines into a coherent and scientifically based view of the world” (NRC, 2012, p. 83 AU27: The in-text citation "NRC, 2012, p. 83" is not in the reference list. Please correct the citation, add the reference to the list, or delete the citation. ).

Transdisciplinary: Transdisciplinary is defined as the merging of distinct and diverse fields into a unified whole to foster new paradigms or domains and converge on a target ( NSF, 2017 ). The new field is larger than the sum of the parts.

NGSS: The Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) were completed in April of 2013. The NGSS represent a change in how states have traditionally approached their science standards. In embracing science education research, the NGSS represent performance expectations (PEs) that require all students have a deep understanding of a smaller number of disciplinary core ideas (DCIs), are able to show evidence of that knowledge through scientific and engineering practices, and connect crosscutting concepts across disciplines” (Pruitt, 2014 AU29: The in-text citation "Pruitt, 2014" is not in the reference list. Please correct the citation, add the reference to the list, or delete the citation. , p. 145).

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