Effects of transdisciplinary STEAM lessons on student critical and creative thinking

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When arts curriculum is able to become transdisciplinary to reach fundamental understandings with other content areas, the level of transfer and thinking skills of the engaged students has the potential to be raised. This study investigated the implementation of transdisciplinary STEAM lessons across 14 classrooms in 7 states. Students (n = 318) in elementary (grades K-5) and secondary (grades 6–12) schools participated in transdisciplinary STEAM lessons. The results of this study indicate that the intervention was successful at increasing the understanding of creativity and that their engagement with thinking skills and habits was greater as compared to students who did not participate in the STEAM lessons. Thematic analysis of the open-response items revealed specific patterns in how students used critical and creative thinking across lessons. Overall, students showed increased creativity, application, problem solving, and collaboration, providing evidence of the effectiveness of the STEAM lessons to increase critical and creative thinking of students.

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