Full STEAM Ahead: Creativity in Excellent STEM Teaching Practices

Danah Henriksen (2014)  The STEAM Journal Vol. 1, Issue 2


This article emphasizes the value of creativity and arts-based learning in the sciences (STEAM education), using one example from a recent research study of creative and effective classroom teachers. The future of innovative thinking in STEM disciplines relies on breaking down the distinction between disciplines traditionally seen as “creative” like the arts or music, and STEM disciplines traditionally seen as more rigid or logical-mathematical (Catterall, 2002). The most exceptional thinkers in fields like science or math are also highly creative individuals who are deeply influenced by an interest in, and knowledge of, music, the arts and similar areas (Caper, 1996; Root-Bernstein, 2003; Dail, 2013; Eger, 2013). In light of this, STEAM must become an essential paradigm for creative and artistically infused teaching and learning in the sciences. I recently conducted a study of creative teaching practices among highly effective teachers (winners/finalists of the National Teacher of the Year program). This article looks at a single case drawn from this study, and considers the arts-based science teaching/learning employed by one of these teachers, Michael Geisen, the 2008 National Teacher of the Year award winner, and a middle school science teacher.





Creative Little Scientists: Exploring Pedagogical Synergies between Inquiry-based and Creative Approaches in Early Years Science

Cremin, T., Glauert, E., Craft, A., Compton, A., & Stylianidou, F.

Education 3-13, 2015, Vol. 43(4), p.404-419.


In the light of the European Union’s interest in creativity and innovation, this paper, drawing on data from the EU project Creative Little Scientists (2011–2014), explores the teaching and learning of science and creativity in Early Years education. The project’s conceptual framework, developed from detailed analysis of relevant literature, highlighted the potential existence of a number of pedagogical synergies between inquiry-based science and creativity-based approaches in Early Years education. The science and creativity literature reviews were thus re-examined to identify synergistic features of teaching and learning in the Early Years. These were seen to include: play and exploration, motivation and affect, dialogue and collaboration, problem-solving and agency, questioning and curiosity, reflection and reasoning, and teacher scaffolding and involvement. Field work undertaken over a 4-month-period in 48 sites across the 9 partner countries provided the opportunity to examine the existence of these synergies in Early Years settings and primary classrooms with learners aged 3–8 years. Qualitative in nature, the fieldwork was framed by a case study strategy encompassing multiple methods of data collection: sequential digital images capturing interactions; observations supplemented by audio recording; timelines; and interviews with teachers and groups of children. The data set comprised 71 cases in early science (and mathematics), with 3 episodes of activity per case encapsulating creativity in these domains, resulting in 218 episodes for analysis. A deductive–inductive analytical approach was undertaken in two phases with cross-case analysis both within and between countries. The paper exemplifies the pedagogical synergies innovatively identified in the conceptual framework and documented in the fieldwork, and highlights the potential for creativity in exploratory science contexts. Additionally, it highlights differences between practice observed in preschool and primary settings and advances a new conceptual definition of creativity within Early Years science education.

New Visuality in Art/Science: A Pedagogy of Connection for Cognitive Growth and Creativity

Kathryn Grushka, Alice Hope, Neville Clement, Miranda Lawry, and Andy Devine


Peabody Journal of Education, 2018, 93(3), 320-331


New visuality in art/science pedagogies challenges teachers to rethink their curriculum and the role of digital new media in facilitating conceptual thinking and the role of the creative representation of knowledge. Recent neuroscientific research on cognition, perception, memory, and emotion inform and provoke implications for 21st-century learning. Analysis of student artwork uncovers pedagogical challenges for teachers. Teachers use visual learning and its forms of higher process thinking to allow students to make cognitive connections with images, giving them the capacity to integrate concepts for the communication of art/science learning. Examples of student learning from years 3–5 and 15–17 illustrate these ideas.