Skip to main content Skip to footer site map

STEM VS. STEAM: Does Arts Education Really Benefit Schools?

Learn more about a study funded by the National Endowment for the Arts!

STEM VS. STEAM: Does Arts Education Really Benefit Schools?

STEM represents science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. STEAM represents the arts in addition to STEM. Different art forms may include drama, dance, music, visual arts, design and humanities. A key difference between STEM and STEAM is STEM directly focuses on scientific concepts. While STEAM takes those same scientific concepts and adds the ability to study them through problem-based learning methods found in the creative process.

STEM vs. STEAM: Which is a better focus for schools?

While both STEM and STEAM have differences, there is an opportunity for growth across all occupations in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics fields. It is important for students to be able to choose a curriculum that fits their individual needs, skills, goals and interests. Therefore it is important for students to have access within their schools.

A study funded by the National Endowment for the Arts tracked participants from their sophomore year of high school year to their mid-20s to see the results of arts education. The study found that a knowledge and appreciation for the arts from a STEAM education approach resulted in a more accurate pathway to college. The key findings from the study confirmed that arts students were:

-Arts students applied to slightly more colleges, on average, than did non-arts students

-Arts students and non-arts students did not differ in terms of the selectivity of the colleges to which they applied at or at which they were admitted.

-Arts students were 29% more likely to apply to a postsecondary institution than were non-arts students.

-Arts students were 21% more likely than non-arts students to have attended a postsecondary institution two years past high school graduation.

-Arts students were just as likely to receive scholarships as their non-arts peers.

In other words, there was no disadvantage for students who elected to pursue an interest in the arts. The debate between STEM vs. STEAM has brought into focus the importance of studying the arts. With a STEAM education, students can discover a wider range of interests; some students might naturally excel in science and technology, and others may enjoy discovering their artistic side. Parents and schools should recognize the value of encouraging their children to develop their own unique talents.

Related Stories

From This Author - Carian Lynée Parker

5 Books Every Sound Design Student Should Read
August 13, 2022

Contrary to what many people believe, a sound designer does not simply find music for a show. They contribute in big ways making sure everyone's mics are operating properly down to the small tasks like picking out all the sound effects for the show. While having a background in music is key, having the proper education is a priority. Here at the top five books every sound design student should read at least once!

5 Books Every Costume Design Student Should Read
August 8, 2022

Costume designers are an integral part of any theatre. While the audience might see a beautiful costume on stage, behind the scenes there is a great amount of detail and work put into preparing each costume design. Costume designers shine through their work on stage by understanding not just each individual piece, but the history behind it. Here are the five books every costume design student should read at least once! 

5 Books Every Stage Management Student Should Read
July 29, 2022

The job of a stage manager requires one to wear many different hats. A stage manager acts as an organizer, communicator, motivator, and sometimes...a mediator or therapist. Behind any great show in theatre, there is a stage manager helping to hold things together and push things forward. A stage manager is a job that is so essential to the world of theatre, but how does one get started in that field? Here are the five books every stage management student should read at least once!

5 Books Every Directing Student Should Read
July 26, 2022

Whether you want to direct in a community theatre setting or be the next hit Broadway director, every directing student must have a strong educational foundation. While learning from experience is always beneficial, there is nothing wrong with taking direction (no pun intended!) from the directing pros. Here are the top five directing books that every directing student should read at least once in their life!

5 Books Every Acting Student Should Read
July 23, 2022

Whether you are a veteran actor or just walking into your first acting class, every acting student must continue to learn more about the craft. Acting itself is a journey and having the right tools under your belt will only help you enhance your skills. Here are the five books that every acting student should read at least once!