Using Arts Education in STEM With the Science and Engineering Practice of Developing and Using Models

Using Arts Education in STEM With the Science and Engineering Practice of Developing and Using Models

Lizette A. Burks (University of Arkansas, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-2517-3.ch010

Abstract

Since 2013 more than three-quarters of the United States has adopted science education standards based on the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). Science education is often integrated with multiple disciplines including technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) and in more recent movements integrated with the arts (STEAM). This chapter examined preservice teachers' preconceptions about the practice of developing and using models in science education and practical integration of the arts through this central practice. The results of the study indicated preservice elementary preconception survey scores were higher when describing the practice as a social endeavor than any other aspect of the practice. Using social endeavors as a lever in elementary teacher education can help preservice teachers utilize this critical practice in more expansive ways (investigatory, sensemaking, critiquing). Examining the way the arts manifest in the practice of developing and using models within the NGSS serves as a first step to finding meaningful ways for integration.
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Introduction

“The fundamental creative practices of imagination, investigation, construction, and reflection…are essential in the arts but equally important for science and mathematics learning” (National Coalition for Core Arts Standards, 2014, p. 19). The term STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics) was coined by the Rhode Island School of Design and was created to potentially enhance STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) (Allina, 2018). The acronym STEM is not a new term and has had challenges as it continues to evolve from being used primarily as an educational slogan and into more meaningful and practical opportunities for reforms (Bybee, 2013). Just as stating STEAM stands for science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics only clarifies the acronym, Bybee (2018) states doing the same for STEM over the last decade has not provided a definition with implications for coherence in K-12 education programs. Although slogans can be rallying symbols for potential unity in educational movements, capitalizing on the support before the term “loses the power to rally and instead becomes the subject of criticism” (Bybee, 2018, p. 6).

Since 2013 more than three-quarters of the United States has adopted science education standards based on the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) (NGSS Lead States, 2013) and/or A Framework for K-12 Science Education: Practices, Crosscutting Concepts, and Core Ideas (the Framework) (NRC, 2012) (NSTA, n.d.). This new vision for science education has changed the landscape with a central focus on student sensemaking of science phenomena and has moved away from rote memorization of scientific knowledge. Central to sensemaking of phenomena in the NGSS (NGSS Lead States, 2013) is the science and engineering practice of developing and using models, a new practice in science standards and is the focus of the study in this chapter. With the implementation of the NGSS (NGSS Lead States, 2013), specifically the science and engineering practices, shifts in science preservice professional learning will be needed. In a period of time when science education is changing, integration with other disciplines can be criticized if meaningful integration is not created from a practical view point.

One way to move towards capitalizing on the support for STEAM education is to find ways the arts inherently manifest in the NGSS (NGSS Lead States, 2013) as a way to move towards more meaningful and practical opportunities for reform. Elementary teacher education is changing due to changes in science education standards. Teacher preparation time is limited as elementary teachers currently “take a limited number of science courses and a single science methods course” (NRC, 2012, p. 259). This chapter focuses on the way the arts manifest in the practice of developing and using models within the NGSS (NGSS Lead States, 2013) and seeks to find first steps in finding meaningful ways to integrate the arts in science education.

The study focused on preservice elementary teachers’ preconceptions of the NGSS science and engineering practice of developing and using models to guide translate of this practice into teacher education. The following questions guided the study:

  • 1.

    What are elementary preservice teachers’ preconceptions about developing and using models in the classroom?

  • 2.

    What student-student and student-teacher interactions are identified by elementary preservice teachers as critical to developing and using models in the classroom?

  • 3.

    What teaching strategies do preservice elementary teachers identify as critical to developing and using models in the classroom?

Key Terms in this Chapter

Models: “Models include diagrams, physical replicas, mathematical representations, analogies, and computer simulations. Although models do not correspond exactly to the real world, they bring certain features into focus while obscuring others. All models contain approximations and assumptions that limit the range of validity and predictive power, so it is important for students to recognize their limitations” ( NGSS Lead States, 2013 , p. 386).

Crosscutting Concepts: 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).

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).

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 AU96: 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).

Phenomena: “Natural phenomena are observable events that occur in the universe and that we can use our science knowledge to explain or predict. The goal of building knowledge in science is to develop general ideas, based on evidence, that can explain and predict phenomena” (Achieve, 2016 AU97: The in-text citation "Achieve, 2016" is not in the reference list. Please correct the citation, add the reference to the list, or delete the citation. , p. 1).

Framework: “Beginning in January of 2010, the Carnegie Corporation of New York funded a two-step process to develop a new set of state developed science standards intended to prepare students for college and career readiness in science” (Pruitt, 2014 AU94: 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). The first phase ended with Achieve creating A Framework for K-12 Science Education (the Framework ). “The goal of the Framework was to articulate the vision for science education in the twenty first century and to articulate what students need to know in their K-12 experience to be considered scientifically literate” (Pruitt, 2014 AU95: 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. 146).

Developing and Using Models: “In science, models are used to represent a system (or parts of a system) under study, to aid in the development of questions and explanations, to generate data that can be used to make predictions, and to communicate ideas to others. In engineering, models may be used to analyze a system to see where or under what conditions flaws might develop, or to test possible solutions to a problem. Models can also be used to visualize and refine a design, to communicate a design’s features to others, and as prototypes for testing design performance” ( NGSS Lead States, 2013 , p. 386).

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