STE(A)M approach: Distinguishing and discussing meanings

Patrícia Bértolo Teixeira, Cristina Martins, Helena Rocha

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review


The STE(A)M approach has been recognized by several authors for its potential in assisting teaching and learning, and several curriculum standards already value its application in the classroom [1]. This approach is based on the articulation between different areas, the clarification and deepening of the concepts being studied assuming particular relevance. Although there are different approaches, according to the areas involved, STEM and STEAM are two among the most often mentioned in the literature. STEM is based on learning that integrates the following areas of knowledge: Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. STEAM also integrates, in addition to the previously mentioned areas, Arts. This inclusion between different areas “is indicated as a means for students to develop creative solutions to problems and make connections between scientific knowledge and the arts and humanities” [2]. The conceptualization of the STE(A)M approach is not consensual and uniform. There are different models focusing on problem-solving based learning, project-based learning, design-based learning, and engineering models. The approach’s main goal is to prepare today's students to become adults capable of entering professional life in years to come, facing challenges and adversities. This approach is considered to hold the potential to contribute to dealing with contemporary challenges, helping to design an education that, without abandoning academic excellence, also develops important skills [3], such as problem-solving, autonomy, argumentative power, and critical thinking. Still, different authors [3], [4], [5] present different conceptualizations of this approach. In this paper we draw on the existing literature to discuss the different understandings of the STE(A)M approach. We will also pay attention to mathematics and how different authors see the discipline’s role within a STE(A)M approach also discussing the evolution of the mentioned authors' positions throughout time. Thus, methodologically, we undertook the following steps: (i) literature search based on the selected keywords; (ii) selection of the texts, taking into account the authors and time gap, in order to analyze the evolution of the research; (iii) collection and organization of the relevant topics for the study. This study aims to present the meanings, conceptualizations, and possible influences present in different models and to understand the evolution of the STEM and STEAM approach over time. The main findings suggest a focus on the interdisciplinary or transdisciplinary approach as opposed to the primeval years of investigations in STEM and STEAM, when many authors advocated a multidisciplinary approach. This change in thinking is due to the need to train students in an integral and holistic manner, developing citizens with transversal knowledge and skills, prepared for the current societal challenges.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEDULEARN22 Proceedings
Subtitle of host publication14th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
EditorsLuis Gómez Chova, Agustín López Martínez, Joanna Lees
Place of PublicationValencia, Spain
PublisherIATED Academy
Number of pages5
ISBN (Electronic)978-84-09-42484-9
Publication statusPublished - 2022
Event14th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies - Palma, Spain
Duration: 4 Jul 20226 Jul 2022

Publication series

NameEDULEARN Proceedings
PublisherIATED Academy
ISSN (Print)2340-1117


Conference14th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies


  • Transdisciplinarity
  • Mathematics
  • STEM
  • Interdisciplinarity


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