Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Master of Arts




Immaculate Namukasa



STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) learning and project-based learning are important educational initiatives in North America. However, it is important to consider whether current STEM educational practices are sufficient to prepare students for the world they are to live and work in. This prompts discussions about STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) which is shifting educational paradigms towards art integration in STEM subjects. This study investigates the STEAM education reform movement in Canada to better understand the STEAM curriculum and instructional programs offered by non-profit organizations and publicly funded schools. This research study addresses the following major questions: 1) what curriculum and instruction models of STEAM education are implemented in non-profit and in-school contexts in Ontario, Canada? 2) What do students learn through different models of STEAM education? 3) What types of assessment of student learning is happening in STEAM education? 4) How do classroom teachers view such models of STEAM education in meeting their curriculum and instruction goals? To explore these questions, I took a small sample of four different STEAM programs in Ontario, Canada. I conducted interviews, observations, content analysis of curriculum documents and a focus group interview. At the four research sites, the main pedagogies used are design-based and inquiry-based models which focused on the students’ interests and encourages students to construct their own knowledge. Students learn character-building skills that empower them to solve real-world problems, develop perseverance and grit, engage in their community and develop a global perspective. The instructors/teachers describe the STEAM tasks at each site as rich and authentic experiences. The findings also suggest that sharing the learning in the STEAM program with the community extends the learning experiences to a wider community and contributes to the collective knowledge about how students learn. This study can inform teaching practices for teachers who seek to engage and motivate students by integrating the arts in STEM subjects. This study also promises to deepen the field’s understanding of STEAM education in Canada and to provide new insights into the practicality, affordances, and tensions of designing and implementing a STEAM program.