Integrating STEAM education in schools: first steps using computing and cognitive science strategies

Xabier Basogain, Urtza Garay, Arantzazu López de la Serna y Juan Carlos Olabe
Communication in congress:
VI Congreso Internacional de Docentes de Ciencias y Tecnología. Jornada sobre Investigación y Didáctica STEM
Publishing city and/or Editorial:
13-16 Abril-2021 (después de aplazado a Octubre (Abril 21-24), 2020, Madrid. Facultad de Educación, Universidad Complutense de Madrid

The countries of the world have incorporated in their educational agendas the integration of STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) in the classrooms. The regional autonomies[1] in Spain are promoting activities to materialize STEAM in their school systems. However, the majority of primary and secondary school teachers do not have the required training to integrate globally STEAM in their classrooms.

This article presents an initiative to train these primary and secondary teachers, both face-to-face and online, in a way that addresses this need for a global approach to STEAM education. The course has been developed using recent developments and theories in the areas of computation and cognitive sciences.

The three fundamental pillars of this course are: the curriculum; the cognitive abilities of the student; and the use of the computer as the work environment. These three pillars are developed in the course through examples that promote the development of transversal and disciplinary competences. The transversal competences developed include: communication, learning to learn, learning to think. The disciplinary competences developed include: mathematics, science, technology and artistic expression.

The methodology of the course is based on the extensive use of practical examples. The participants of the course experiment with these examples with the goal of developing the competences listed before in a computing environment. This environment used of online versions of the Scratch and Snap programming platforms. For this course we have developed experiences on subjects that reflect a modern curriculum. In addition, these experiences are designed to enhance the student's cognitive abilities, and their computing skills by using the computer to become proficient in the Scratch computational language.

As a result of the course, the participants in the course will have a solid understanding of the world of STEAM, which they will be able to with their students and other teachers. They will also obtain a motivating view of STEAM topics with concrete and engaging examples. This course provides the tools to make the classroom a rich place for exploration and learning for students.

The course has already been taught as part of the program of the 2019 summer courses of the University of the Basque Country[2] (July 2019), as well as an online course [3] (Sep-Nov 2019). The evaluation report of the course includes measurements on the degree of satisfaction of the participants, as well as a list of the needs identified by the participating teachers. It also includes a list of the topics that were of greatest interest to the teachers.

Finally, the article presents a set of new proposals of our research group in the field of training of teacher and future teachers in the area of STEAM.

[1] The Basque Government through the Department of Education has presented the STEAM Euskadi Education Strategy initiative:

[2] Course (Presencial): Incorporando Educación STEAM en las Escuelas de Euskadi.

[3] Course (Online): Educación STEAM en las Escuelas de Euskadi: Primeros Pasos.

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