STEAM education

Graduate Programs

What Is STEAM Education? Enhancing STEM with the Power of the Arts



You’re familiar with the term STEM education. It stands for “science, technology, engineering and math” and it’s been a buzzword in education for several years. But a new term is now making the rounds, and it’s eerily similar: STEAM.

So what is STEAM, exactly? It’s essentially just a progression of the original acronym, adding one additional element: Art. You may be curious as to why this discipline is being added to the mix.

Keep reading to understand the importance of art instruction, what led to this new movement in education and how educators can embrace this framework to benefit their students.

What is STEAM education?

With people changing jobs and even jumping careers more frequently than in past generations, a truly well-rounded educational background is essential. Whether your students pursue college or enter the workforce right away upon graduation, they will need the baseline skills to adapt to whatever their academic or professional careers require of them. 

“Incorporating the A in STEAM—art—brings in personal expression, empathy, meaning-making and the purpose of what you’re learning,” explains Dr. Kristin Cook, associate dean of Bellarmine’s Annsley Frazier Thornton School of Education and longtime science educator. “It’s the humanizing piece of transdisciplinary and interdisciplinary instruction.” 

The STEAM framework brings the five disciplines together to create an inclusive learning environment that encourages all students to participate and contribute. This holistic approach encourages students to exercise both the left and right sides of their brains simultaneously.


Dr. Cook notes that all five elements of STEAM come together in a very human experience—an experience that includes not only the planet and the life on it, but also the humanity that fosters its preservation. “STEAM involves personal problem solving for society and the human experience,” she says, adding, “and the non-human experience as well—the plants, animals, environment.”


Why is STEAM education important?

“Research has shown the importance of the arts in appealing to a broader and diverse group of learners, and STEAM promotes organic problem-solving of real and complex problems,” explains Dr. Cook. This all-inclusive method helps equip today’s students with the skills they need to join tomorrow’s workforce.

“Young learners may have not yet decided what path they want to follow, and it teaches them critical thinking across interdisciplinary boundaries,” Dr. Cook adds.

Regardless of the industry or profession, employers are seeking well-rounded candidates who possess 21st century skills. Technology has started replacing a lot of repetitive, task-based work, meaning humans are left to take on the jobs that require creativity, critical thinking and collaboration — all of which are embedded into the STEAM education framework.

“Kids are natural inquirers,” Dr. Cook says. “STEAM methods provide them a space where they can dive deeper into what they’re learning in the siloed disciplines.”

What can you do to embrace STEAM education in your school?

It’s easy to understand how STEAM education can help prepare your students for a successful future, but how can you play a role in introducing this framework into your school? As a teacher leader who is devoted to providing the best possible outcomes for students in your district, the training starts with you.

You’re aware of the transformational power of education, which is why you’re inspired to advance your own education in order to help promote more significant changes in educating students for years to come. If you’re passionate about STEAM education, there are ways to acquire precise training for implementing and championing these methods on a greater scale.

Bellarmine University has recognized the critical need for empowering teacher leaders to spearhead STEAM education initiatives in their schools. To address this gap, Master of Arts in Education (MAEd) students have the option of pursuing a STEAM Education Teacher Leader specialization, which prepares educators to implement and teach this method through transdisciplinary problem-solving.

The Teacher Leader MAEd is ideal for established teachers seeking to pursue a master’s degree or Rank I*, or for those seeking to meaningfully advance their careers. “The STEAM specialization in particular will empower you to deepen students’ interests in science and mathematics as they forge their skills in integrated thinking and problem solving—whatever their age,” explains Dr. Cook, a co-designer of the program.

As a K-12 educator enrolled in the program, you will engage with colleagues from a variety of disciplines as each of you works toward becoming a leader in your school. You can immediately apply your new knowledge and insights in your professional life, developing your capacity as a coach and mentor to colleagues and students.

What can you expect from a STEAM education program?

The STEAM Education Teacher Leader degree at Bellarmine University provides a solid foundation for experienced teachers to discern the most appropriate approaches for integrating arts with science and mathematics, infusing relevant and meaningful technology into instruction while adapting to the unique needs of students’ and communities.

The fully online format provides teachers the convenience of working through their coursework whenever and wherever, and can be completed in as few as 16 months. Successful STEAM Education candidates will complete a set of five core courses common to Bellarmine’s Teacher Leader programs (15 credit hours), four courses based in consistent and evidence-based approaches to teaching STEAM (12 credit hours), and a capstone experience (3 credit hours).

Take a closer look at the details of the MAEd Teacher Leader STEAM Education program.


Teacher Leader core course requirements:

  • Research Methodology for School Leaders
  • Teacher Leadership for Equity in Schools
  • School Technology Leadership
  • School Improvement through Assessment, Evaluation and Data Analysis
  • Teacher Leadership for Communities of Practice

STEAM course requirements:

  • STEAM Instructional Design and Tools
  • Transdisciplinary Teaching through Steam
  • Assessment in STEAM
  • Professional Leadership in STEAM

While you’ll have the freedom to work through the curriculum on your own schedule, you’ll still have the support of cohort-based format, with your classmates with you every step of the way. You will study under professors and mentors from a variety of educational backgrounds and disciplines, consistent with the liberal arts and sciences tradition Bellarmine was founded upon.

Be a leader in STEAM education at your school

“Access to high-quality STEAM instruction should be provided across all grades K-12,” Dr. Cook believes. At Bellarmine University, we’re determined to equip and empower leaders like you to help drive positive change in schools across the country.

With the MAEd in STEAM Education, you will have the opportunity to explore your own learning, leading your students as they take their next step. Take your next step. Be that teacher.

Learn more by visiting the Master of Arts in Education Online program page.


*Rank I in Kentucky is achieved when a teacher has completed 60 hours beyond the bachelor’s program.

Tags: Graduate Programs , MAEd , STEAM , STEM



Located in the historic Highlands neighborhood of Louisville, Kentucky, Bellarmine University is a vibrant community of educational excellence and ethical awareness that consistently ranks among the nation’s best colleges and universities. Our students pursue an education based in the liberal arts – and in the distinguished, inclusive Catholic tradition of educational excellence, the oldest and most rewarding in the western world. It is a lifelong education, worthy of the university’s namesake, Saint Robert Bellarmine, and of his invitation to each of us to learn and live In Veritatis Amore – in the love of all that is beautiful, true and good in life.