This article examines the integration of literature into secondary STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) classes in British Columbia, Canada. Data were collected through interviews with nine secondary STEM subject teachers and focus on teachers’ perceptions of the effects of including literature, what/how literature has been included, as well as the barriers, both real and perceived, to doing so.
A review of the literature demonstrates that integrating literature into STEM can be appealing to a broad range of students and teachers and can help to engage students with a variety of interests, perspectives, and backgrounds. The arts, including the literary arts, are a part of STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, mathematics) education, which focuses on interdisciplinary or transdisciplinary approaches to education. Furthermore, due to its multiple disciplinary nature, literature can present opportunities for students to learn holistically and help them to better understand the context of the content they are studying. Interview data suggest that literature can also help to make lessons memorable, build community within the classroom, and create opportunities for students and teachers to authentically represent themselves and the subject matter.
Participants in this study described several barriers they have faced in choosing to integrate literature in STEM classes, including time constraints, locating appropriate literary material, and managing the expectations of students, colleagues, administrators, and parents. However, the participants in this study all stated that they would continue to include literature in their classes in the future, despite the barriers.
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Cunningham, Lindsay E.
"Including the Literary Arts as the A in STEAM,"
The STEAM Journal:
1, Article 6.
Available at: https://scholarship.claremont.edu/steam/vol5/iss1/6
Curriculum and Instruction Commons, Language and Literacy Education Commons, Science and Mathematics Education Commons
Lindsay Cunningham is a Faculty Advisor in the Teacher Education Office at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, BC, Canada. She was a secondary school English and French teacher for 13 years before starting her MA in Curriculum Studies. She spends her time reading, cooking, and going on adventures with her husband and kids.