STEAM in early childhood education: a scoping review

Jiahong Su, Iris Heung Yue Yim, Rupert Wegerif, Samuel Kai Wah Chu

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: More and more research has recently focused on STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics) education, especially early childhood education. To the best of our knowledge, no review studies have focused on theoretical frameworks, the details of learning activities, assessment methods, outcomes, and challenges that educators encounter in early childhood education (ECE) settings. Purpose: This study reports a scoping review of the literature on the characteristics of STEAM in early childhood education, synthesizing empirical studies on STEAM in ECE to understand how STEAM has been taught at the ECE level and to inform future STEAM curriculum development. Methods: The electronic databases used for the literature search included Scopus and Web of Science. A total of 26 articles on STEAM in early childhood education published from 2017 to 2023. Results and Conclusion: This study analysed 26 articles and found that (1) most studies adopted the frameworks provided by global educational initiatives or more local educational policy frameworks to inform their research purpose and design for promoting STEAM to develop student’s learning skills; (2) most studies used technologically enhanced learning, followed by inquiry project-based learning; (3) the learning outcomes included knowledge gain, skill acquisition by children, and attitude changes by teachers and parents; (4) mixed-research designs were most commonly used, followed by qualitative designs; and (5) the significant challenges of STEAM education in ECE settings include limited pedagogical content knowledge, negative attitudes towards teaching STEAM, and insufficient teaching guidelines and resources. This study also provides recommendations for educators and future research directions for researchers.

Original languageEnglish
JournalResearch in Science and Technological Education
DOIs
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2024

Keywords

  • Challenges
  • Early childhood education
  • Frameworks
  • Learning activities
  • STEAM

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