STEAM Works: creative coding and experimentation


The paper is about teaching creative coding using a STEAM approach, with 'making' at the centre of the pedagogy.


At the end of the session, 1) attendees will have seen exciting evidence for the validity of the STEAM approach, where students learn deeply through making. 2) they will see how we can use innovative technology to express pedagogical concepts 3) they will see how we can express and test theoretical pedagogical concepts using technoilogy


For the last decade, there has been growing interest in STEAM as a panacea that will lead us to develop better research and education, and enable us to produce students who can work most effectively in the current and developing market-place. However, despite this interest, there seems to be little quantitative evidence of the true power of STEAM learning, especially describing how it compares and performs with respect to more established approaches. To address this, we present a comparative, quantitative study of two distinct approaches to teaching programming, one based on STEAM (with an open-ended inquiry-based approach), the other based on a more traditional STEM approach (where constrained problems are set and solved). Our key results evidence how students exhibit different styles of programming in different types of lessons and, crucially, that students who tend to exhibit more of the style of programming observed in our STEAM lessons also tend to achieve higher grades. We present our claims through a range of visualisations and statistical validations which clearly show the significance of the results, despite the small scale of the study. We believe that this work provides clear evidence for the advantages of STEAM over STEM, and provides a strong theoretical and technological framework for future, larger studies.