From STEM to STEAM: strategies for enhancing engineering & technology education
This paper sets out to challenge the common pedagogies found in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) education with a particular focus on engineering. The dominant engineering pedagogy remains “chalk and talk”; despite research evidence that demonstrates its ineffectiveness. Such pedagogical approaches do not embrace the possibilities provided by more student-centric approaches and more active learning. The paper argues that there is a potential confusion in engineering education around the role of active learning approaches, and that the adoption of these approaches may be limited as a result of this confusion, combined with a degree of disciplinary egocentrism. The paper presents examples of design, engineering and technology projects that demonstrate the effectiveness of adopting pedagogies and delivery methods more usually attributed to the liberal arts such as studio based learning. The paper concludes with some suggestions about how best to create a fertile environment from which inquiry based learning can emerge as well as a reflection on whether the only real limitation on cultivating such approaches is the disciplinary egocentrism of traditional engineering educators.