The STEAM4U project aims to promote equity in STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) education by enhancing 10-14-year-old students’ self-efficacy (perception of their own capabilities) in these fields, and particularly targeting those students in disadvantaged situations in STEAM. According to the literature in the field, discrepancies between youths’ own identity and STEAM careers’ identity (male, white and brainy), family “science capital” (science-related qualifications, knowledge about science, etc.) and students’ self-efficacy in STEAM (their believes on their own capacity and competence in the field) are three major causes of students disinterest for STEAM subjects (Macdonald, 2014). This situation triggers off serious inequalities because generates an homogeneous profile of those who go on to study STEAM subjects (those who highly identify themselves with the STEAM identity), silencing the voice of diverse actors, like women, working-class groups and other under-represented collectives not only into STEAM fields, but also as full-citizens (Archer et al., 2013; Kearney, 2016).
In parallel, we have learned both from experience and the literature that self-efficacy is crucial to explain young people’s disinterest for STEAM subjects: an improvement of self-efficacy in STEAM-related activities has a positive impact on students’ interest on STEAM subjects. This effect is more significant in those under-represented collectives, whose self-efficacy in STEAM has shown to be low (and much
lower than their actual performance) (Everis 2015). Self-efficacy, however, is not that easy to raise, as it has been constructed over years. Possible actions in this direction are providing students with experiences of success in STEAM-related activities from early years and increasing their own knowledge on the concept of self-efficacy to empower them to better assess their capacities.
For all these reasons, the STEAM4U project pursue two main objectives:
1. Improve existing educational strategies -in current formal and non-formal learning environments- that promote the improvement of self-efficacy in STEAM for all students aged from 10 to 14 years old. This action, in turn, pretends to:
- (a) Identify and characterise current educational strategies with potential to increase self-efficacy
- (b) Enrich such educational strategies and propose new ones for the promotion of students’ STEAM self-efficacy via the articulation and implementation of feasible challenges;
- (c) Evaluate the affordances and limitations of the identified and proposed strategies for enhancing students’ self-efficacy.
2.Develop and offer to all stakeholders different tools and guidelines for the promotion of self-efficacy in STEAM. Specifically:
- (a) Elaborate a toolkit for assessing the promotion of self-efficacy in STEAM education for diverse initiatives;
- (b) Offer to students of ages 10-14 and their families, empowering resources to know about self-efficacy and its effect on their life choices.
The project will gather together representatives of several European organizations in charge of initiatives focused on empowering young people in the STEAM fields within an equity perspective. These organisations have a wide experience promoting unique initiatives in the STEAM field that have potential regarding the promotion of self-efficacy of students due to its pedagogical characteristics: an interdisciplinary approach to education that integrates STEAM, use of innovative pedagogical methodologies, inclusion of interesting strategies to promote equity… The exchange and cooperative work between these different organisations is expected to enrich each of the existing initiatives and also to develop a common European framework to promote self-efficacy in STEAM-related activities.
Budget: 170.940€ (60.317€ UAB)
Other participating institutions:
- Thomas More (Bèlgica)
- Fundacja Uniwersytet Dzieci (Polònia)
- Xkè? Zerotredici (Itàlia)
- The festival of Curiosity (Irlanda)
- SINS Cardener (Espanya)
- Florida Grup Educatiu Cooperatiu (Espanya)
- Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona -ICE. FAS i CRECIM- (Espanya)
CRECIM participants: Digna Couso Largarón (IP), Carme Grimalt Álvaro, Maria Isabel Hernández Rodríguez, Víctor López Simó, Cristina Simarro Rodríguez, Anna Garrido Espeja.