The case for integrating the arts, humanities, and science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and medicine (STEMM) fields in higher education ultimately must rest on evidence. The committee was charged with examining the evidence behind the assertion that integrative experiences in the arts and humanities and STEMM lead to educational and career successes. The two important questions raised by this charge are: what constitutes success, and how can this success be measured?
These two questions lead to a host of more detailed questions. What are the learning objectives of integrative courses and programs? Is it to learn content knowledge in more than one discipline? To learn content knowledge in one discipline better or differently? To learn how to learn in an entirely new way? To learn to see connections between disciplines and integrate two or more areas of knowledge? To better prepare a graduate for employment in a particular sector or to enhance lifelong habits of learning? What kinds of outcomes constitute success? If it is impossible to assess the outcomes of a program or course using a controlled experimental design, is it still worth evaluating and will the emerging evidence be informative?
These questions are not easy to answer and may be answered differently by different disciplines, faculty members, institutions, and scholarly journals. As such, evaluations of programs and courses, if they are done at all, may be very distinct and difficult, or impossible, to generalize (see
1 The Committee wants to acknowledge and thank research consultant Matthew Mayhew for his significant contributions to this chapter. A commissioned literature review written by Dr. Mayhew on behalf of the committee contributed directly to the writing of this chapter.
Chapter 4 for a discussion of “The Challenges and Limitations of Research on Integration”).
The research literature we review in this chapter is limited in several ways. Very few studies used designs that account for selection effects through randomized, controlled trials or quasi-experimental designs; employed longitudinally administered, theoretically valid, and empirically tested measures of student learning; and applied data control, collection, and analytic methods consistent with the effort’s theoretical underpinnings. Moreover, given that each course and program is unique and that relatively few have been studied, it is difficult to generalize the student outcomes associated with a particular integrative educational experience. Further, the studies reviewed here did not fully take advantage of qualitative and narrative approaches to assessment that might offer insight into those student outcomes that are difficult or impossible to capture quantitatively (see Chapter 4 for an extended discussion).
That said, it is important to note that the challenge of designing rigorous evaluations within the context of real-world courses and programs is not unique to studies of integration. Most higher education research on student learning struggles with challenges related to the generalizability of student learning outcomes associated with a particular educational approach and with evaluation design in a real-world context. Instead, we considered multiple forms of descriptive, qualitative, and quantitative evidence.
In this chapter we describe the committee’s approach and the broad conclusions we drew regarding undergraduate student learning outcomes associated with integration of the arts and humanities into STEMM curricula, and vice versa. We offer an overview of some existing studies that have examined student outcomes associated with certain models of integration. When qualitative and quantitative research studies were available, we focused our analysis on the outcomes of these studies. However, when this kind of research was not available, we sought to analyze programs and courses based on other sources of information (e.g., descriptions of courses, student work, scholarly output, etc.). When possible, we point out promising models and practices for the design, implementation, and evaluation of integrative courses and programs. We highlight these models such that institutions that are interested in developing new integrative courses and programs can draw inspiration from existing efforts and can modify and transform these models to suit the specific learning goals of their students.
Despite the challenges to assessment of integrative courses and programs described in Chapter 4, the committee worked to “examine the evidence behind the assertion” that integration leads to improved educational
and career outcomes by collecting and considering evidence from multiple sources.
To collect the evidence for the report, the committee engaged in the following activities:
- Held several meetings to learn from the literature and from each other;
- Heard from the public through open sessions of committee meetings;
- Learned from noted experts in relevant fields who met with the committee;
- Conducted careful literature reviews (both commissioned externally and through the Academies’ library professionals and staff);
- Examined examples of integrative programs from across the country, including examples garnered from a “Dear Colleague” letter calling for input from faculty; and
- Evaluated other information relevant to the effort.
In the spirit of integration, the committee examined diverse forms of evidence for the study, including:
- Personal testimony from faculty, administrators, students, and employers on the value of an integrative approach to education;
- Essays and thought pieces that make logical arguments for integration based on observations and evidence on the state of higher education today;
- Descriptions of integrative courses and programs;
- Formal and informal evaluations of courses and programs carried out by institutions; and
- Peer-reviewed literature from the field of higher education research.
Although there are limitations to the evidence base on the impact of integrative programs and courses on students, we found that the available research does permit several broad conclusions to be made.
- Aggregate evidence indicates that certain approaches that integrate the humanities and arts with STEM have been associated with positive learning outcomes. Among the outcomes reported are increased critical thinking abilities, higher order thinking and deeper learning, content mastery, creative problem solving, teamwork and communication skills, improved visuospatial reasoning, and general engagement and enjoyment of learning (see Tables 6-1 and 6-2 for
an overview of the learning outcomes associated with specific integrative approaches).
- The integration of STEM content and pedagogies into the curricula of students pursuing the humanities and arts may improve science and technology literacy and can provide new tools and perspectives for artistic and humanistic scholarship and practice.
- Many faculty have come to recognize the benefits of integrating arts and humanities activities with STEM fields and can testify to the positive learning outcomes associated with integrative curricula.
- Abundant interest and enthusiasm exists for integration within higher education, as evidenced by the groundswell of programs at colleges and universities in various sectors of American higher education (see “Compendium of Programs and Courses That Integrate the Humanities, Arts, and STEMM” at https://www.nap.edu/catalog/24988 under the Resources tab).
The statement of task for this study asked the committee to consider courses and programs that integrate “STEMM curricula and labs into the academic programs of students majoring in the humanities and arts” and integration of “curricula and experiences in the arts and humanities into college and university STEMM education programs.” In some instances, the direction of the integration—whether STEMM into the arts and humanities or arts and humanities into STEMM—is clear, but in many other instances the integration is more of a balanced, mutual integration. This led the committee to question whether distinguishing the direction of the integration matters for this analysis. The committee concluded that it may matter only in cases where an integrative course is available or advertised primarily to students pursuing a specific major (for example, an engineering and design course that is offered only to engineering students), or when the goals of a course and intended learning outcomes are primarily rooted in one discipline (for example, an engineering and design course for which knowledge and skill in engineering are the primary goal of the course).
In the sections below, we describe the results of the committee’s research into integrative courses and programs. The courses and programs we highlight below are not intended as a comprehensive list, but rather as examples of existing courses and programs—some of which have been in existence for some time (for a more comprehensive list of known integrative programs and courses see “Compendium of Programs and Courses That Integrate the Humanities, Arts, and STEMM”). When possible, we highlighted programs and courses for which there is published research or a formal or informal evaluation.
We separate this discussion into two main sections that correspond to the direction of the integration; however, it could be argued in many instances that a particular course or program we describe is a mutual, balanced integration rather than integration with a clear direction. We point out several such examples in each section but maintained this organizational structure because we observed that integrative courses that were explicitly offered to all students, as opposed to students from a particular discipline, were rare.
INTEGRATION OF THE ARTS AND HUMANITIES INTO THE ACADEMIC PROGRAMS OF UNDERGRADUATE STUDENTS MAJORING IN STEM
Several initiatives have been used to increase the quality of college-level STEM education over the past 30 years, including the integration of arts and humanities courses with STEM curricula—a movement that has gained more attention in recent years (Borrego and Newswander, 2010; Catterall, 2012; Dail, 2013; Ge et al., 2015; Grant and Patterson, 2016; Maeda, 2013; Sousa and Pilecki, 2013). Based on the premise that adding concepts and pedagogies from the arts and humanities to STEM courses will increase creativity (Jones, 2009), deepen understanding of content and increase knowledge retention (Asbury and Rich, 2008; Jeffers, 2009; Land, 2013), support critical thinking and problem solving (Lampert, 2006; Spector, 2015), and make learning more fun and engaging (Brown and Tepper, 2012), many advocates for “STEAM” education have pushed for innovative curricular and co-curricular integrative and interdisciplinary educational opportunities for students at all levels of education (Borrego and Newswander, 2010; Grant and Patterson, 2016; Maeda, 2013; Sousa and Pilecki, 2013; Spector, 2015).
Below we offer an overview of the existing research on student outcomes associated with the integration of the arts and humanities into STEM courses and curricula. Though many of the studies we review suffer from methodological limitations, taken together they do suggest that integrative courses (in-course integration) and integrative programs (within-curriculum integration and co-curricular integration) are associated with positive student outcomes, including higher order thinking, creative problem solving, content mastery of complex concepts, enhanced communication and teamwork skills, and increased motivation and enjoyment of learning (Gurnon et al., 2013; Ifenthaler et al., 2015; Jarvinen and Jarvinen, 2012; Pollack and Korol, 2013; Stolk and Martello, 2015; Thigpen et al., 2004). Notably, many of these learning outcomes are consistent with the “twenty first–century professional skills” that employers say they are looking for in recent graduates (see Chapter 2).
The committee’s review of the literature turned up many examples of in-course integration (see “Compendium of Programs and Courses That Integrate the Humanities, Arts, and STEMM”—available at https://www.nap.edu/catalog/24988 under the Resources tab, a subset of which have associated student learning outcomes available in the higher education research literature. Such courses can be extremely diverse and may integrate the arts, humanities, and STEMM fields in varying degrees. As the following examples demonstrate, in-course integration can range from a course that includes a small component of another discipline (e.g., a neuroscience course with an assignment involving haikus) to a fully integrated course (e.g., a design engineering course). When embedded in coursework, integrative mechanisms and processes are associated with positive learning outcomes (see Table 6-1).
For instance, a comparative study of an undergraduate neuroscience course by (Jarvinen and Jarvinen, 2012) found that students who were required to apply their understanding of neurotransmission through the creative activity of making a 3- to 5-minute film significantly outperformed those who learned the concept from more conventional approaches. The authors also found that this learning transcended several levels of Bloom’s revised taxonomy. In addition, students who participated in the integrative assignments reported that, while it was challenging to simplify the process of neurotransmission into a video, they felt more confident in their ability to apply neurotransmission in future classes. The process of creating helped them reduce the complexity of the scientific concept to its most salient features.
Conveying scientific content with accuracy requires deep understanding of the concepts being conveyed. This depth of knowledge comes from internalizing information and constructing it into a form that is unique and coherent to the individual. Pollack and colleagues developed assignments that use the writing of haiku—a 17-syllable poem—as a means for students to identify key neurobiological concepts and to articulate them in a succinct yet creative manner (Pollack and Korol, 2013). Using student questionnaires, Pollack and colleagues found that the haiku writing process and explanations created a context for deconstructing complex concepts into simple terms and reconstructing those concepts to produce descriptions that reflected deep meaning. The haiku assignments fostered logical thinking skills and guided students to understand that claims need to be supported by evidence that is, in turn, synthesized by the student’s reasoning (Pollack and Korol, 2013).
In both of the courses described above, students demonstrated higher order thinking, as defined by Bloom’s revised taxonomy, and were better
|Title (Author)||Integration Level||Specific Androgogical Features||Key Measured Learning Outcomes and Higher Order Skills Addressed|
|Elevating Student Potential: Creating Digital Video to Teach Neurotransmission (Jarvinen and Jarvinen, 2012)||Course-Level Assignment||Undergraduate students create a 3- to 5-minute film to display their understanding of neurotransmission.||
|The Use of Haiku to Convey Complex Concepts in Neuroscience (Pollack and Korol, 2013)||Course-Level Assignment||Undergraduate students create a haiku-style writing to articulate key neurobiological concepts such as addiction.||
|Integrating Art and Science in Undergraduate Education (Gurnon et al., 2013)||Course-Level Assignment||Undergraduate students create a 3-dimensional sculpture based on protein-folding research.||
|Can Disciplinary Integration Promote Students’ Lifelong Learning Attitudes and Skills in Project-Based Engineering Courses? (Stolk and Martello, 2015)||Full Course Integration: Direct comparison of outcomes in an traditional materials science course and an integrated course in materials science and history||Project-based learning in both courses. Students completed the Situational Motivation Scale (Guay et al., 2000) and the Motivated Strategies for Learning Questionnaire (Pintrich et al., 1991) and also self-report on critical thinking, self-efficacy, and the value of the learning tasks.||
Students in the integrated course show:
|Title (Author)||Integration Level||Specific Androgogical Features||Key Measured Learning Outcomes and Higher Order Skills Addressed|
|A Model for Teaching Multidisciplinary Capstone Design in Mechanical Engineering (Thigpen et al., 2004)||Full Course Integration: Interdisciplinary course from the departments of electrical engineering, marketing, and art.||Capstone course designed to transfer academic skills to the workplace. Focus on teamwork, transitioning from classroom to industry and product design, manufacture, and marketing.||
Not an empirical study. Authors report:
|Exploring Learning: How to Learn in a Team-Based Engineering Education (Ifenthaler et al., 2015)||Course-Level Assignment in Designing for Open Innovation Course||Individual and team assignments, class discussion.||
|Arguments for Integrating Arts: Artistic Engagement in an Undergraduate Foundations of Geometry Course (Ernest and Nemirovsky, 2015)||Full Course Integration||Activity-based foundations of geometry course for secondary mathematics educators using geometry software, physical devices, artistic engagement activities, field trips, and written reflection.||
able to communicate effectively the complex ideas associated with neuroscience. Students creating the videos also showed increased engagement in the material, regardless of personal career interests (Jarvinen and Jarvinen, 2012; Pollack and Korol, 2013).
Similar learning outcomes were observed by faculty in a DePauw University course that integrated visual arts with biochemistry through sculpture-building based on protein-folding research. According to Gurnon
and colleagues, students were able to develop “an intuition for complex concepts of protein structure and folding” (Gurnon et al., 2013, p.3).
Courses that integrate the arts, humanities, and STEMM fields are also associated with increased student motivation and engagement. Faculty at the Olin College of Engineering offered two options to students taking an introductory materials science course: an integrated materials science-history course co-taught by faculty in engineering and history, or a nonintegrated course taught only by an engineering professor (Stolk and Martello, 2015). Although both courses were project based and had similar structures, students who participated in the integrated course demonstrated increased motivation and engagement in self-regulated learning strategies over the term compared with students in the nonintegrated course, as measured by the Situational Motivation Scale (Guay et al., 2000) and the Motivated Strategies for Learning Questionnaire (Pintrich et al., 1991). Additionally, students in the integrated course self-reported using critical thinking skills in their work more frequently and had higher self-efficacy and valuing of learning tasks than students in the nonintegrated course.
In addition to using creative assignments in established disciplinary courses, some faculty have designed new courses based on integration. For example, mechanical engineering students at Howard University have the option of enrolling in a multidisciplinary capstone course with students from the departments of electrical engineering, marketing (in the business school), and art (in the Division of Fine Arts). Although the faculty who coordinate this course do not provide empirical evidence supporting the relationship between student participation in this initiative and learning and career outcomes, they argue that students “gain insight into the practical aspects of engineering in the workplace, develop skills in working on multidisciplinary teams, experience a transitional step between classroom and industry, gain an understanding of how the curriculum is relevant to real world product design, manufacturing and marketing, develop and improve communication skills and, most importantly, improve their opportunities for employment” (Thigpen et al., 2004, p. S2G-1-6 Vol. 3).
The use of integrated approaches with prospective instructors can have a multiplier effect on future teaching. For example, prospective secondary mathematics teachers enrolled in an activity-based foundations of geometry course were taught the “synthetic and analytic aspects of projective geometry through the use of physical devices and dynamic geometry software” (Ernest and Nemirovsky, 2016, p. 5) as well as artistic engagement activities, such as “exploring the roots of projective geometry in Renaissance art, participating in whole-class discussions and composing written reflections on ideas in the arts, visiting a contemporary art museum, and creating individual artistic pieces using ideas from projective geometry” (p. 6). Qualitative results indicate that the students in the course demon-
strated the ability to blend mathematics with other life experiences, could identify innovative ways of fostering mathematical inquiry, and shifted their attitudes toward art.
Summary of Student Outcomes Associated with In-Course Integration
In-course integrative initiatives, whether by including an arts and humanities–related assignment in a disciplinary STEM course or through implementation of a fully integrated course, have an association with student learning outcomes. Although there are several limitations to the generalizability of the research presented above, the evidence suggests that in-course integration shares a relationship with higher order thinking, creative problem solving, content mastery of complex concepts, enhanced communication and teamwork skills, and an increased engagement of learning. Further research is needed to fully understand the relationship between these student outcomes and integrative educational experiences.
The committee also considered a number of examples of within-curriculum integration. As the examples below will demonstrate, participation in interdisciplinary curricula has been associated with similar positive learning outcomes to those observed in in-course integration. In particular, as shown in Table 6-2, within-curriculum integration is associated with critical think-
|Title (Author)||Integrated Disciplines and Curricula||Specific Androgogical Features||Key Measured Learning Outcomes and Higher Order Skills Addressed|
|Integrated Curricula: Purpose and Design (Everett et al., 2000)
The Freshman Integrated Curriculum at Texas A&M University (Malavé and Watson, 2000)
|First- and second-year foundational engineering curriculum components from calculus, chemistry, engineering graphics, English, and physics—horizontally integrated. Upper-level curricular elements vertically integrated||Ethics, writing, graphics, problem solving. Students held accountable for all disciplinary components in all courses. Force Concept Inventory, Mechanics Baseline Test, and California Critical Thinking Skills Test||
|Title (Author)||Integrated Disciplines and Curricula||Specific Androgogical Features||Key Measured Learning Outcomes and Higher Order Skills Addressed|
|The Effect of a First-Year Integrated Engineering Curriculum on Graduation Rates and Student Satisfaction: A Longitudinal Study (Olds and Miller, 2004)||Connections program designed to highlight the importance of the first-year engineering curriculum by developing significant links between science, humanities, and engineering||Integrated program modules and active learning strategies, interdisciplinary seminars and peer study groups||
|Motion Picture Science: A Fully Integrated Fine Arts/STEM Degree Program (Scholl et al., 2014)
Learning Across Disciplines: A Collective Case Study of Two University Programs (Ghanbari, 2015)
|Fully integrated BFA in Film and Animation with BS in Imaging Science||Components of each degree program completely integrated to form one, new undergraduate degree||
ing skills, content mastery, facility to work in teams, and communication skills (Malavé and Watson, 2000; Olds and Miller, 2004; Willson et al., 1995). Within-curriculum integration is also associated with higher GPA and improved retention and graduation rates (Everett et al., 2000; Malavé and Watson, 2000; Olds and Miller, 2004).
An early program integrating STEMM and arts and humanities was founded in 1994 at the Dwight Look College of Engineering at Texas A&M University (Everett et al., 2000; Malavé and Watson, 2000). This program, which came out of the National Science Foundation’s 1993 Foundation Coalition for Engineering Education, integrates the first-year components of calculus, chemistry, engineering graphics, English, physics, and problem solving into a “cross-discipline engineering, science, and English cur-
riculum” (Everett et al., 2000, p. 172). Faculty also developed integrated second- and upper-year models focused on presenting a unified approach to the engineering sciences and discipline-specific specialization, respectively. As Everett et al. explain, “One can view the first and second year models as performing horizontal integration, building a wide, highly interconnected foundation onto which the upper division builds vertically” (Everett et al., 2000, p.168). The first-year curriculum included areas such as ethics, writing, graphics, problem solving, physics, calculus, and chemistry. As a highly coordinated integrated curriculum, students were held accountable in all courses for information presented in any one of the other disciplines, which means they needed to know the material from their English course to do well in their physics course.
Coordinators of this program used control groups and longitudinal design to assess the impact of this program on student outcomes. Using instruments such as the Force Concept Inventory (Hestenes et al., 1992), the Mechanics Baseline Test (Hestenes and Wells, 1992), and the California Critical Thinking Skills Test (Facione and Facione, 1992), researchers found that students who participated in the Foundation Coalition first-year integrated program demonstrated better critical thinking skills, performed better in calculus and physics, exhibited higher overall GPAs, developed significantly better computer skills, and expressed greater facility to work in teams than students who completed the traditional first-year curriculum (Malavé and Watson, 2000; Willson et al., 1995). Of particular note, Foundation Coalition students who identified as underrepresented in engineering had higher retention rates than similar students in the traditional curriculum.
A program similar to Texas A&M’s Foundation Coalition initiative was designed at the Colorado School of Mines in 1994. The Connections program, which also was developed in response to calls for engineering education reform in the mid-1990s, was designed to help students form connections in their first-year courses and “understand the importance of their first-year studies by allowing them to develop appropriate and significant links among disciplines” (Olds and Miller, 2004, p. 25). Students who participated in the program enrolled in science and engineering courses where faculty used integrated project modules and active-learning strategies, participated in a two-semester interdisciplinary seminar that “further developed and explored the interconnectedness of appropriate topics from each of the first-year science, humanities, and engineering courses” (p. 25), and engaged in peer study group systems. Olds and Miller, 2004 found that “average” engineering students who participated in this program graduated at rates approximately 25 percent higher than students in the traditional curriculum (Olds and Miller, 2004). Additionally, through a follow-up survey 5 years later, these students indicated that their experience in Con-
nections enhanced their academic preparation by helping them make connections among course topics, improving their critical thinking abilities, setting a context for their science and engineering studies, increasing their awareness of ethical issues, and strengthening their communication skills. In addition, Olds and Miller noted that resources spent to have top faculty reach and mentor first-year students resulted in increased retention and overall satisfaction with the educational experience.
Within-curriculum efforts also have sought to educate students at both ends of the “STEM-Art spectrum” (Scholl et al., 2014, p. 2). The Rochester Institute of Technology initiated an undergraduate program in Motion Picture Science, for example, that fully integrates components of a bachelor’s in fine arts in Film and Animation and a bachelor’s of science in Imaging Science into one undergraduate degree. Scholl and colleagues (2014) reported that 96 percent of students who completed this program received positions in motion picture or imaging fields upon graduation, and many of these graduates attributed their career success to the diverse set of skills and techniques learned in the program (Scholl et al., 2014). Additionally, in her qualitative, collective-case study of two arts and STEM integrated programs at two universities—the ArtScience and ArtTechnology programs (Ghanbari, 2014, 2015)—Ghanbari attributed knowledge retention of course concepts, a rise in enjoyment of learning, a broadening of perspectives, and a substantial influence on future careers to the experiential collaborative learning dimension of the integrated experience.
Less is known about the impact of fully integrated arts, humanities, and STEMM majors. Although students in the Motion Picture Sciences program at the Rochester Institute of Technology demonstrated high career placement rates, the authors did not compare these students to others with similar ambitions in other programs. Ghanbari’s study of the ArtScience and ArtTechnology programs also did not include a control group, nor did it quantitatively measure the impact of student participation. As with in-course integration, more rigorous research is needed to fully assess the influence of within-curriculum integrative initiatives on student learning and career outcomes.
Summary of Student Outcomes Associated with Within-Curriculum Integration
Within-curriculum integrative initiatives at colleges and universities share positive associations with student learning outcomes. For example, when compared with non-participant peers, students who participated in the first-year integrated engineering programs at Texas A&M University (Everett et al., 2000; Malavé and Watson, 2000; Willson et al., 1995) and Colorado School of Mines (Olds and Miller, 2004), which integrated
STEM disciplines with English courses and humanities concepts (e.g., ethics), had higher retention and graduation rates, stronger critical thinking skills, increased subject matter competence in their science and engineering courses, and improved communication skills. Many of these student outcomes are shared by the other within-curriculum programs described above (see Table 6-2). Since the literature on the Texas A&M program provides extensive detail as to how the Freshman Coalition curriculum was developed and assessed, it may be a useful resource for others hoping to implement similar initiatives.
Co-Curricular and Extracurricular Integration
Since many co-curricular and extracurricular programs are coordinated outside of the classroom, less is known about their impact on student learning outcomes than is known about curricular interventions. Nevertheless, co-curricular and extracurricular integration between the arts and humanities and STEMM fields has been shown to have positive relationships with student learning (LaMore et al., 2013).
With the rise of makerspaces, collaborative laboratories, and residential learning programs on college and university campuses, as well as student-led clubs and events, students and faculty now have more opportunities to engage in interdisciplinary discovery, enhance disciplinary knowledge and professional goals, and build communities of practice around making. Lewis, for instance, argues that infusing the arts within the STEMM fields through multimedia design studios and makerspaces “has enormous potential to infuse the liberal arts with design thinking, collaboration, creative computing, and innovation while maintaining the level of deep reflection and critical thinking associated with humanist inquiry” (Lewis, 2015, p. 269). However, more research is needed to understand the learning outcomes associated with participation in these co-curricular initiatives within higher education.
One faculty-coordinated co-curricular initiative is the collaborative laboratory setting at Youngstown State University (Wallace et al., 2010). This initiative, which brings together faculty and students from the College of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics and the College of Fine and Performing Arts in a shared and neutral workspace, provides an opportunity for integrated design teams to meet, collaborate, and work on innovative projects. To date, the laboratory has yielded several successful projects, including the development of a retro-styled cell phone prototype designed by mechanical engineering technology and sculpture students. This opportunity to collaborate is thought to have increased the sculpture student’s awareness of manufacturing technology, while the engineering stu-
dents were “challenged to apply engineering principals to address a poorly constrained, creative problem” (Wallace et al., 2010, p. 3E-6).
Another co-curricular integrated program with emerging evidence of success was developed by officials at two museums at Southern Utah University: the Braithwaite Fine Arts Gallery and the Garth and Jerri Frehner Museum of Natural History (Grant and Patterson, 2016). Their partnership, which resulted in several different art and science integrated learning programs for K-12 students, provides undergraduate and graduate art education students with the opportunity to docent during programs and develop lesson plans for museum activities for participating children. So far, Grant and Patterson (2016) have observed learning outcomes related to art education, such as educational program design and management skills.
Summary of Student Outcomes Associated with Within-Curriculum Integration
Though the evidence base is extremely limited, integrative co- and extracurricular activities are common and practitioners report positive outcomes on students. Such programs often take the form of makerspaces, collaborative laboratories, and residential learning programs on college and university campuses, as well as student-led clubs and events. Practitioners argue, based on case studies and their own observations, that integrative co- and extracurricular activities can promote such outcomes as design thinking, collaboration, creativity, innovation, and critical thinking.
There is evidence to suggest that the integration of certain arts curricula, such as drawing, painting, and sculpting, into the curricula of students can also improve their success in STEM courses by improving their visio-spatial abilities. Uttal and Cohen (2012) present a number of well-controlled, often randomized studies, demonstrating that visuo-spatial ability is highly associated with success in STEM subjects (Mohler, 2007; see also Alias et al., 2002; Deno, 1995; Tillotson, 1984). Some of these studies show that no matter how visual imaging is taught, it has substantive benefits for STEM learning outcomes. Such course material may involve specific visual thinking exercises; consist of learning computer-aided design, or focus on drawing, industrial drawing (or draughting), painting or sculpting, though drawing stimulates ideational fluency over use of computer-aided design programs (Ainsworth et al., 2011; Groenendijk, et al., 2013; Uttal and Cohen, 2012). Indeed, Uttal and Cohen review dozens of controlled studies performed on students ranging from middle-school through gradu-
ate school that demonstrate that visio-spatial training intervention, devoid of STEM content, nonetheless results in improved scores on a variety of generalized visio-spatial skill tests and, at the same time, on specific measures of STEM learning such as classroom tests, standardized STEM tests, persistence in major, and probability of graduating within a STEM major. Additionally, groups of students who typically underperform in STEM subjects, such as women and some minorities, benefit more than other groups of students from visio-spatial training (Sorby and Baartmans, 1996, 2000; Sorby, 2009a, 2009b).
INTEGRATION OF STEM INTO THE ACADEMIC PROGRAMS OF UNDERGRADUATE STUDENTS MAJORING IN THE ARTS AND HUMANITIES
The evidence base for the impact on students of courses and programs that integrate STEM knowledge and pedagogy into the arts and humanities is extremely limited, particularly in the peer-reviewed literature. This is unfortunate, as the committee heard passionate testimony from faculty, students, and scholars to the benefits of such integration, both to students and to the arts and humanities disciplines. Corroborating qualitative and quantitative research findings would greatly enrich understanding of the impact of such programs on students and could serve to support the observations and opinions of proponents of this form of integration.
Despite the limited evidence base, we found some evidence that integration of STEMM content, pedagogies, and scholarly approaches into the humanities and arts serves to:
- Improve scientific and technological literacy among students majoring in the arts and humanities
- Offer new tools and approaches for humanistic and artistic scholarship and practice
- Drive artistic and humanistic questioning, scholarship, and practice that explores the influence of science and technology on the human condition
Integration of Stem into the Curricula of Students in the Arts and Humanities Can Promote Scientific and Technological Literacy
The published literature that addresses efforts to integrate STEM into the curricula of students majoring in the arts and humanities has dealt more with the importance of scientific and technological literacy than the value that STEM knowledge and approaches contribute to scholarship in the arts and humanities. Such science and technology literacy courses often
endeavor to make STEM content more accessible, relatable, and engaging for students by grounding this knowledge in real-world contexts and demonstrating the impact of STEM on society throughout history and in our everyday lives. As such, these courses integrate information and pedagogical approaches from the arts and humanities with content knowledge and pedagogical approaches in science and technology. Though we treat these courses as examples of STEM integration into the arts and humanities because of the students they are primarily serving, it is also possible to view them as a balanced, mutual integration.
Successful science and technology literacy courses are very popular with students. For example, the University of Virginia course “How Things Work” (Physics 105 and 106) taught by Louis Bloomfield attracted 500 students each semester for more than a decade and has had a significant impact. Enrollment is now capped at 200 students (Krupczak and Ollis, 2006). Many humanities and arts students have not only gained an understanding of physics through this course but also have found the knowledge exciting and useful and are now less intimidated by the discipline. The popularity and impact of this course led to the development of a “How Things Work” textbook that has been used by 200 universities (Krupczak and Ollis, 2006).
Similarly, the course “Science and Technology of Everyday Life” taught by John Krupczak at Hope College has been taken by 1,000 non-engineering students—60 percent of whom are women—since its introduction to the curriculum in 1995. To better understand the impact of this very popular course, Krupczak and colleagues evaluated students’ experiences and outcomes using the Motivated Strategies for Learning Questionnaire (MSLQ). The instructors found statistically significant increases in intrinsic motivation, task value, and self-efficacy between the pre-test and post-test across three semesters, as well as a reduction in test taking anxiety (Krupczak et al., 2005). The authors concluded that “the case study shows that nonengineering students can have increased motivation for learning science and technology, increased perceived value for science and technology, increased self-confidence about learning science and technology” (Krupczak et al., 2005, p. SJ1-36).
These are only two examples of many such science and technology literacy courses. Krupczak and Ollis (2006) describe 18 scientific and technological literacy courses at different institutions that are common in their popularity with students and their impact on student’s understanding of, and attitudes toward, science and technology and its relevance and impact in society.
Others have noted the value of integrating STEM into meaningful reading and writing assignments as a means of improving science literacy. An article by Glynn and Muth (1994) posits that to achieve science literacy,
scientific curriculum should include reading and writing assignments. The authors note that without scientific literacy, students will be underprepared to make informed decisions about scientific or social issues that they confront in their everyday life. Glynn and Muth define meaningful learning as “the process of actively constructing conceptual relations between new knowledge and existing knowledge.” They explain that by reading scientific text and endeavoring to write it, students actively familiarize themselves with different concepts and form the foundation of real scientific expertise. As many students, as well as a disproportionate number of women and minorities, are not scientifically literate, reading and writing can serve as an engaging vehicle to learn science meaningfully.
Efforts to integrate engineering knowledge and understanding into the curricula of non-engineering majors have also been a priority of the Sloan Foundation, the Teagle Foundation, and the American Society for Electrical Engineers (ASEE). In 1980, the Sloan Foundation launched the New Liberal Arts Initiative, an effort to encourage a range of diverse institutions to integrate technological and quantitative literacy into liberal arts disciplines (Tobias, 2016). In 2017, the Teagle Foundation, in partnership with the ASEE, launched the Engineering-Enhanced Liberal Education Project that supported an analysis of 16 case studies of courses and programs that colleges and universities had developed in response to the Sloan Foundation initiative (American Society for Engineering Education). The analysis was led by noted author and higher education researcher Sheila Tobias. In her qualitative analysis of the 16 courses, Tobias found “interesting, varied, and so far successful (in terms of faculty commitment and student enrollment) courses and programs” that “encompass a wide variety of initiatives: from the dream and long-term commitment of a single faculty member (Princeton), to the initiative by a college president (Wesleyan), a college-wide commitment to including Engineering in a newly constituted set of General Education offerings (University of Maryland), and to a university-wide one-course Tech graduation requirement at Stony Brook originating in the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences.”2
Also in the vein of promoting scientific thinking as a competency that all college graduates should possess, the Association of American Colleges and Universities launched the Scientific Thinking and Integrative Reasoning Skills (STIRS) initiative “to develop tools to improve the capacity of undergraduate students to use evidence to solve problems and make decisions.” STIRS scholars have developed course modules that “facilitate
2 See American Society for Engineering Education: https://www.asee.org/engineering-enhanced-liberal-education-project/introduction.
integrative, evidence-based inquiry into real-world problems,”3 and some of these course modules have integrated aspects of STEM into the arts and humanities. An interesting example from STIRS scholar and Professor of Mathematics at the University of North Dakota Ryan Zerr is a course titled Congressional Apportionment: Constitutional Questions, Data, and the First Presidential Veto. In this course, Zerr uses mathematics and historical evidence to examine how congressional apportionment methods can affect the results of the U.S. presidential election. His course requires students to “describe a variety of mathematical issues that arise in determining how to allocate U.S. House representatives among all U.S. States and use mathematics to develop a notion of fairness regarding apportionment” (Zerr, 2014, p. 1). Zerr suggests that the case study can be used in a first-year seminar course, liberal arts–themed mathematics course, history, political science, or any situation where integrative learning is an objective.
Another STIRS case study is provided by Tami Carmichael from the University of North Dakota Humanities and Integrated Studies Program. The case study uses the topic of the environmental impacts of tar sands oil extraction and transmission to develop student skills in scientific reasoning and critical thinking. Carmichael developed this case study for use in a general education course for students who may not have strong scientific knowledge. Carmichael suggests that the assignments in this case study will require students to “think carefully about the material and use specific data and arguments to formulate reasoned responses.”4
It is also important to recognize the significant contribution of The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation in supporting interdisciplinary and integrative education and scholarship. As a foundation focused on the humanities and arts, Mellon has invested heavily in efforts to develop curricular interventions at the undergraduate and graduate level, develop centers for interdisciplinary research and education, and support the research and hiring of faculty doing interdisciplinary work. The Mellon Foundation has also heavily invested in the development of interdisciplinary areas of study, including digital humanities; the intersection of architecture, urbanism, and the humanities; environmental humanities; arts and the environment; and medical humanities. The support from the Mellon Foundation has initiated the development of multiple centers for interdisciplinary study and thus is developing the intellectual foundations for further curricular reforms.5
4 See People, Places, and Pipelines: Debating Tar Sands and Shale Oil Transmission—STIRS Student Case Study at https://list.aacu.org/stirs/casestudies/carmichael.
Federal agencies have also supported scientific understanding and engagement through the arts, and in some instances publicly available reports to these agencies by grantees offer some insight into the impact of such efforts. For example, with support from the National Science Foundation (NSF), dancer, choreography, and McArthur Genius Fellow Liz Lerman developed “The Matter of Origins,” a multi-media, contemporary performance that explores the beginnings of the universe through art, science, and engagement. In Act One, audience members experience a vivid soundscape and contemporary intergenerational dance based on historical and contemporary understandings of physics. In Act Two, they adjourn to a nearby room to enjoy tea, cake, and dialogue punctuated by dance interruptions designed to stimulate further exploration of the nature of science, spiritual, and scientific explanations of origins, and the limits of scientific measurement.6 “The Matter of Origins” was performed nine times at three performance sites before audiences ranging in size from 282 to 1,100. Using a mixed methods research design, Diane Doberneck and colleagues evaluated the impact of the performance on audience members and found that “[a]udience members’ attitudes, interest, knowledge, and behavior concerning science showed positive change. Quantitative and qualitative data across all three study sites consistently demonstrated these results regardless of audience member demographics or background” (Miller et al., 2011). Although this evaluation was not published in a scholarly, peer-reviewed journal, and though the performance was not a part of a college or university course, it suggests that integration of STEM content and ideas into artistic performances can have positive impacts on public engagement and understanding of science.
The National Science Foundation has offered additional support for integrative and transdisplinary efforts through several funding programs. In 2006, NSF initiated the CreativeIT program to explore “the synergies between creativity and information technology, science, engineering, and design research.”7 The NSF CreativeIT program has funded partnerships between composers and artificial intelligence researchers at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute to create “a digital conductor of improvised avant-garde performances” (PhysOrg, 2010), research projects focused on the development and application of computational tools and creative methods to problem solving using creative intuition and inquiry, and the use of the performance art of improvisation to develop the creative capacity of individuals and groups in science education and research in the emerging field of computational biology, among many other projects. Research funded by the
6 See The Matters of Origins Evaluation Study at http://ncsue.msu.edu/research/matteroforigins.aspx.
NSF CreativeIT program sought to integrate methods and practices inherent in the fine, applied, and performing arts, computer science, and STEM learning to garner insights and discovery of new knowledge that equally valued creative cognition and computational thinking. NSF’s Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research program has also supported several collaborations between artists and scientists aimed at better understanding and communicating the impacts of climate change. For example, a collaboration between Rhode Island School of Design’s Charlie Cannon and Eli Kintisch led to the development of LookingGlass, an augmented reality interface that allows users to view the impacts of climate change on the local environment as if it were happening right in front of them.
Clearly, support from federal agencies and private foundations has had a significant impact on the establishment of new integrative courses, programs, and scholarship. While this national support is necessary for establishing new, innovative integrative teaching and scholarship, it is also important to acknowledge that support from institutions of higher education is also necessary to sustain such efforts.
Stem Integration Can Offer New Tools and Approaches for Humanistic and Artistic Scholarship and Practice
Although the committee could not find published, peer-reviewed research on the impact on students of educational approaches and activities aimed at enriching arts and humanities scholarship by integrating STEM knowledge and pedagogical approaches, descriptions of programs and courses offer some insight into the goals of such integration and its impact on the disciplines. Take, for example, the Digital Humanities, which apply computational methods and data processing to humanistic inquiry (Dalbello, 2011). By applying technology to humanistic research, students are able to approach humanistic scholarship in new ways. For instance, a course at Virginia Tech called Introduction to Data in Social Context offers students the opportunity to examine “the way data is used to interpret patterns of human behavior, identity, ethics, diversity, and interactions.”8 Similarly, Carnegie Mellon University offers an art studio course in computer science titled Electronic Media Studio: Interactivity and Computation for Creative Practice in which students “develop an understanding of the contexts, tools, and idioms of software programming in the arts.”9 The course is open to students who have mastered the basics of programming and would like to use code to make art, design, architecture, and games.
Another example was offered to the committee by Fritz Breithaupt, who elaborated on his Chronicle of Higher Education article “Designing a Lab in the Humanities” (Breithaupt, 2017), during a regional information-gathering workshop. In his remarks to the committee and in his article, Breithaupt described how, by working collaboratively with a student with a STEM background, he was able to break new ground in his research into morality narratives and see the similarities between humanistic scholarship and the activities of a scientific research lab. In the article, Breithaupt writes: “The goal of our Experimental Humanities Lab is not to imitate the sciences, but to reclaim what the humanities have always done: Ask questions, observe, question our world, and, yes, experiment and gather data. If that is what happens in a lab, then surely we might have a lab. Why should labs be reserved for the sciences?”
Among the most practical and directly applied intersections of STEM enhancing arts education included courses being taught in Visual Art and Chemistry, Dance and Anatomy and Physiology, Music and Math, and Music and Technology (see “Compendium of Programs and Courses That Integrate the Humanities, Arts, and STEMM” available at https://www.nap.edu/catalog/24988 under the Resources tab). As Robert Root Bernstein, professor of physiology at Michigan State University and arts integrative researcher explains, “All of kinetic art is embedded in engineering training and practices; all of electronic art is embedded in computer technology.”
The San Francisco Art Institute (SFAI) requires all students (primarily who are art students) to take science courses. SFAI requires all students to learn quantitative scientific methodologies to develop a scientific mode of inquiry of the world. Many classes at SFAI introduce students to the intersection of art and science. They have numerous arts-sciences courses including: Systems of Investigation: Evolution (Undergraduate Level, Critical Studies), Systems of Investigation: Animal/Human (Undergraduate Level, Critical Studies IN-190-2), Topics in Art & Science: From Miracles to Molecules (Undergraduate Level, Interdisciplinary SCIE-113-1), Life Studies: Biology and Art, Science Deep Time, Vast Space (Graduate and Undergraduate Level, Interdisciplinary), and Studio and Critical Studies Environmental Art and Philosophy.
In its research, the committee also considered courses, programs, and fields of study in the humanities and arts that explore the influence of STEM on society, humanity, and nature. Again, we were unable to learn much about the direct influence of these courses, programs, and fields on student learning outcomes, but in describing them we offer insight into what motivates these activities.
University of California at Davis’ 16-year-old experiential Art/Science Fusion Program’s mission is to bring the creative energies of the arts and
the sciences into a mixture that catalyzes change and innovation in learning for people of all ages.10
Cofounders Diane Ullman, entomologist, and Donna Billick, visual artist, developed massive artworks, as well as a number of course such as ENT 001 Art, Science and the World of Insects, SAS 40 Photography: Bridging Art and Science, SAS 42 Earth, Water, Science and Song, Freshmen Seminar 2: Plants in Art and Science, Freshmen Seminar 4 The Face of Darwin, Freshmen Seminar 7: Water in Science and Song, Science and Society 098: Connecting Art & Science: Bringing Environmental Concepts, FRS 002 Bees, Art and Survival and FRS 002: Portraits of the Oak—Exploring the Art/Science Borderland.
A course titled Countertextual Ecologies: Ecopoetics taught by Leonard Schwartz at Evergreen State College offers one example. This course explores “creative and critical approaches to language, with a view to reframing our understanding of the relationship between nature and history” and asks questions like “Is the poem mimetic of nature, or a function of it? How could such a seemingly noble enterprise as ‘environmentalism’ or ‘protecting nature’ be problematic? How have powerful environmental imaginaries and narratives served to dangerously simplify how environmental problems and their solutions are conceptualized?”(Evergreen State College, n.d.). Although it is not possible to know the impact of this specific course on students, Evergreen State College, which offers students the opportunity to “connect critical themes across academic subjects,” “study subjects in a real-world context,” “explore a central idea or theme, team-taught by faculty from different disciplines,” and “learn how to be an active, engaged citizen no matter what career you choose” (Evergreen State College, n.d.), also boasts the second fastest time to degree among schools in Washington State (an average of 3.88 years) and the third highest graduation rate among Washington public schools. In addition, it reports that 88 percent and 92 percent of graduates are employed or pursuing graduate or professional degrees within 1 year and 3 years of graduation, respectively. Given that 60 percent of students at Evergreen work while in school, these numbers are striking (Evergreen State College, n.d.). Future evaluation of the impact of the integrative approach taken by Evergreen on student retention, graduation rate, career outcomes, and other measures of student success could offer valuable insights into the potential value of an integrative approach.
Many additional examples are found in the curriculum at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI), another school that has embraced an integrative approach. In addition to courses that integrate the humanities and arts into engineering, WPI offers courses that integrate STEM concepts
and practices into humanistic and artistic contexts. For example, in the course Making Music with Machines and Musical Robotics, taught by Scott Barton, students explore “aesthetic and technical considerations of physical automatic mechanical (electro)acoustic instruments and the music that they make” and design and build new machines to make new kinds of music.11 Another course, The Philosophy of Technology, taught by John Sanbonmatsu, “considers the epistemology, phenomenology, ethics, and politics of technology” and asks students to consider questions like “Is technology value neutral? Or does it have a politics? What makes one technology ‘appropriate,’ another technology anti-democratic or dangerous? Have we lost control over our technologies? Do computers have a gender? Is technology an artifact, a social practice, or a way of being-in-the-world? All three? Is virtual reality changing what it means to be human? How should our technological artifacts be developed? Should some not be developed at all?”12
Experiential learning, engaged learning, and community-based learning strategies, while not new to higher education, are gaining traction on college and university campuses. The Ohio State University STEAM Factory Idea Foundry located in downtown Columbus is 60,000 square feet of workshops and offices, working nooks, classrooms, and communal spaces.13 It is both a physical place and the belief that each of us has the potential to bring our ideas to life if given the space, the equipment, and the support to empower our inner maker. On and off our campuses we have seen the rapid rise of transdisciplinary centers and institutes, maker spaces and collabs for creativity, innovation, and discovery. (See “Compendium of Programs and Courses That Integrate the Humanities, Arts, and STEMM” available at https://www.nap.edu/catalog/24988 under the Resources tab—which includes a short list of centers and institutes identified as “new” or in the making in the past few years).
Other institutions that have embraced integrative approaches to higher education and offer courses and programs focused on the integration of STEM into the arts and humanities, and vice versa, include Arizona State University (ASU) and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).
ASU’s President, Michael Crow, describes the university in the following way: “We do things differently, and we constantly try new approaches. Our student’s paths to discovery don’t have to stay within the boundaries of a single discipline. Our researchers team up with colleagues from disparate
11 See https://web.wpi.edu/academics/catalogs/ugrad/mucourses.html (Accessed December 1, 2017).
12 See https://web.wpi.edu/academics/catalogs/ugrad/pycourses.html (Accessed December 1, 2017).
fields of expertise. We use technology to enhance the classroom and reach around the world.”14 ASU has created faculty positions for humanities scholars within science and engineering departments such as the School of Life Sciences and the School of Biological and Health Systems Engineering that offer integrative courses to a large number of science and engineering majors. For example, the Biology and Society faculty in the school of life sciences teach courses to biology majors that integrate the life sciences with various humanistic approaches. ASU created a “Science and Society” requirement for bachelor of science students and supports faculty positions for teaching integrative courses that fulfill this requirement. In practice, that means that thousands of ASU STEM undergraduates take integrative, writing-intensive courses at the intersection of arts, humanities, and STEM disciplines.
The MIT Media lab, founded in 1980, “continues to check traditional disciplines at the door. Product designers, nanotechnologists, data-visualization experts, industry researchers, and pioneers of computer interfaces work side by side to invent—and reinvent—how humans experience, and can be aided by, technology.”15 Current MIT Media Lab projects include research on the power of virtual reality to enable new methods for storytelling, engagement, and empathy through a virtual reality narrative film called ”TreeSense” (Liu and Qian, 2017) and the development and prototyping of conducive, temporary tattoos called “DuoSkin” that allows users to control their mobile devices, display information, and store information on their skin while serving as a statement of personal style (Kao, 2017). While studies on the impact of the MIT Media lab on student learning are not available, for four decades the Lab has graduated students who have gone on to successful careers at the intersection of art and technology. MIT reports that Media Lab alumni have started 150 spinoff companies (MIT Media Lab, n.d.).
Though ASU, MIT, WPI, and Evergreen all offer courses that integrate STEM into the arts and humanities, each of these institutions also offers courses that integrate the arts and humanities into STEM, though it is challenging to assign a direct impact on student outcomes to these courses (see “Compendium of Programs and Courses That Integrate the Humanities, Arts, and STEMM” available at https://www.nap.edu/catalog/24988 under the Resources tab).
14 See https://asunow.asu.edu/20160912-asu-news-asu-selected-nations-most-innovative-school-second-straight-year (Accessed December 1, 2017).
Anecdotes, course descriptions, and the testimony of faculty offer meaningful information about the nature of integrative efforts, the goals for student learning embedded in integrative curricular approaches, and the observed or hypothetical outcomes associated with integrative courses and programs, and they should not be dismissed out of hand. As we discuss in Chapter 4, evidence is always collected in stages and all discoveries begin with observations. However, in order to have confidence in the impact of an integrative course or program on a student, anecdotes and other forms of descriptive evidence should be used as the basis for designing methodologically rigorous qualitative and quantitative evaluations.
The importance of evaluating student outcomes is emphasized when we consider studies that have not supported an expected benefit of integration. For example, many are familiar with the “Mozart effect,” in which listening to music is believed to improve student performance on mathematics tests (Jashke, 2013; Mehr et al., 2013); however, several studies have not supported this hypothesis. For instance, Mehr et al. (2013) found that “overall, children provided with music classes performed no better than those with visual arts or no classes on any assessment.” These results speak to the importance of not assuming that any integrative effort will necessarily yield the expected student outcomes and the importance of viewing anecdote and observation as a starting point, rather than an end point, for understanding impact.
In an effort to collect additional evidence and input, the committee shared a letter with the membership of the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities, the American Association of Community Colleges, the American Association of State Colleges and Universities, the American Council on Education, the Association of American Universities, the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, the AAC&U, and the Alliance for the Arts in Research Universities. We received 79 responses from faculty members, administrators, and non-academic respondents from this query. In addition, members of the committee further solicited their membership and network of colleagues for additional information, to identify additional courses, programs, and initiatives not represented in the peer-reviewed literature. Though this was not a formal scientific survey, nor was it intended to be, the feedback the committee received offered a useful snapshot of the kinds of programs and practices in place at various institutions, the motivations for implementing integrative
programs at various institutions, and the challenges faced by institutions that have implemented integrative courses and programs. Respondents shared with the committee a range of qualitative, quantitative, and anecdotal information. The committee is grateful to all who responded to the letter. (A capture of this information titled “Compendium of Programs and Courses That Integrate the Humanities, Arts, and STEMM” is available at https://www.nap.edu/catalog/24988 under the Resources tab).
A review of the 79 responses revealed that respondents cited positive impacts of integrative experiences on students, including student appreciation, real-world relevance, and the opportunity to think critically across disciplines. Some respondents also attributed interdisciplinary exposure to helping students make more informed choices about their undergraduate major or minor. It is possible that the positive accounts we received on the impact of integrative courses and programs represent a positive response bias among respondents; and so, as stated above, it is important that readers not take the information summarized here as the results of a survey or other formal research endeavor. However, the committee chose to describe in this report the input it received from the “Dear Colleague” letter because the observations made by respondents on the nature of the impact of integrative programs on students, as well as the descriptions of formal and informal evaluations of programs, offer useful insight into how some faculty and institutions are defining, approaching, and evaluating integrative efforts, the rationale for integration on various campuses, and the challenges and barriers to integration. As we explain in Chapter 4, all discoveries begin with observation. The observations made by the stakeholders who responded to this “Dear Colleague” letter could form the basis of hypotheses that could be researched in a formal way in the future.
Most responses to the letter indicated that faculty or departments have conducted some form of informal and/or formal assessments to measure impacts, including student performance, and to receive student feedback. Informal assessments often take the form of course evaluations (using surveys or questionnaires). No respondents cited negative assessment results. Several respondents indicated that faculty and departments have gone beyond student questionnaires and have worked with professional assessment centers to measure specific learning outcomes. The responses indicated that while most faculty will take it upon themselves to conduct assessments, some departments and institutions intentionally include assessment plans as part of curriculum development.
Three programs provided examples of assessments done by integrative programs. The first example comes from Portland State University (PSU). At PSU, the 4-year general education program, the University Studies Program, is required of all students with the exception of those enrolled in Liberal Studies or the Honors Program. University Studies begins with Freshman
Inquiry, a year-long course introducing students to different modes of inquiry and providing them with the tools to succeed in advanced studies and their majors. At the sophomore level, students choose three different Sophomore Inquiry courses, each of which leads into a thematically linked, interdisciplinary cluster of courses at the upper-division level. Finally, all students are required to complete a capstone course that consists of teams of students from different majors working together to complete a project addressing a real problem in the Portland metropolitan community. Mentoring sessions, workshops, and seminars are also built into the program.16
University Studies’ assessment practices have been recognized nationally. In 2010, the Council for Higher Education Accreditation awarded PSU the CHEA Award for Outstanding Institutional Practice in Student Learning Outcomes, based in large part on the assessment practices in University Studies.17 In 2007 the Association of General and Liberal Studies recognized PSU with the Award for Improvement of General Education.18
All Freshman Inquiry courses are co-taught by three to four faculty members. Freshman Inquiry faculty wanting to propose a new course offering must explicitly demonstrate the interdisciplinary aspect of the course.19 For example, in the Design and Society course proposal, faculty indicated the following: “Our faculty team has expertise in architecture and architectural history, art history, landscape design, structural engineering, studio art, theater history, electrical engineering, and semiconductor physics. Other disciplines represented in the course materials (see Section IV) include social history, film, economics, business ethics, ecology, product design, and industrial design.” This course was proposed in 2004 and is still being taught.
PSU conducted a formal assessment of the Freshman Inquiry for the 2014-2015 school year.20 This assessment employed two methods: an end-of-year survey (809 students responded), which asked students to rate their experiences in their Freshman Inquiry course, and an e-portfolio Review (257 student portfolios were randomly selected), which scored student portfolios against rubrics developed to measure student learning related to the goals of the University Studies Program. The results of the assessment indicated that, in general, students agreed that they had opportunities to address all four of the University Studies’ goals in their Freshman Inquiry courses, including inquiry and critical thinking, communication, diversity of human experiences, and ethics and social responsibility. The e-portfolio
17 See http://www.learningoutcomeassessment.org/Award-WinningCampuses.htm (Accessed December 1, 2017).
analysis revealed that 79 percent of Freshman Inquiry students met program expectations for writing performance.
Lyman Briggs College (LBC) was founded in 1967 at Michigan State University (MSU) to bridge the gap between the sciences and the humanities described by British scientists and novelist C. P. Snow in his 1959 Rede Lecture (Snow, 1959).21 About 625 first-year students self-select into the program, and all freshmen are required to live in the residence hall where LBC classrooms, laboratories, faculty, staff, and administrative offices are located. The college uses teaching techniques that help students develop writing, reasoning, and presentation skills; focuses on the research culture of science; is dedicated to meaningful student-faculty and student-student interactions; and has smaller introductory science courses to foster a more inclusive environment. Introductory laboratories employ inquiry-based experiments, and a wide range of co-curricular activities expand the ideas learned in class to new and personal settings.
Three aspects of LBC particularly shape its interdisciplinary approach: the absence of departments, strategic space allocation, and faculty joint appointments. Faculty members are drawn from across the natural and social sciences and are hired in mixed groups, which encourages early cooperation and allows members to learn more about a colleague’s field. Faculty act as a single governing body, and although they form disciplinary groups based on subject, these groups are explicitly required to work together, and proposals that involve multiple disciplines receive priority. Diverse academic offices are placed side-by-side, allowing for greater interaction between faculty from different backgrounds. Almost every tenure-system faculty member at LBC has a joint appointment in a disciplinary-based department elsewhere on campus, thereby promoting communication and exchange with the rest of the colleges.
LBC has a first-year retention rate of 95 percent, a 6-year graduation rate of 85 percent, and a STEM retention rate of 70 percent, which is substantially higher than the 50 percent national average. In a 2012 survey completed by 466 LBC students, 96.8 percent and 73.3 percent indicated that class size and inquiry-based laboratories, respectively, added either “a great deal” or “a moderate amount” to their LBC experience (Sweeder et al., 2012). The vast majority—92.8 percent—indicated that their STEM courses had “a great deal” or “a moderate amount” of influence on their performance in upper-level STEM courses in their major. For both the class size and preparation questions, female students were significantly more likely to indicate a greater positive response. Evaluations also have shown that LBC students consistently earn higher grades in organic chemistry, bio-
21 See https://lymanbriggs.msu.edu/news_and_events/2017/LBC2Cultures.cfm (Accessed December 1, 2017).
chemistry, physiology, microbiology, and genetics. Of the 115 senior-level respondents, 48.7 percent had conducted research with a professor outside of a laboratory course, 11.3 percent had coauthored a publication with a faculty member, 38.3 percent had participated in a study abroad program, and 24.3 percent had worked as an undergraduate learning assistant.
In the College of General Studies of Boston University, the sophomore year curriculum includes a two-semester Natural Science sequence that is taught by teams of three faculty—a natural science professor, a humanities professor, and a social science professor—for two semesters.22 Because the faculty share the same students for a year, they make connections among their courses. For instance, the faculty member who teaches environmental ethics in the sophomore ethical Philosophy Class (HU 201 and 202) schedules her lectures and discussions to coincide with the environmental science units being discussed in Natural Science 202, so that the courses reinforce one another and students can reflect on the interrelationship of the subjects. The sophomore year culminates with a capstone project in which students work in groups of five to six on a 50-page, group-written research project that explores and poses a solution to a contemporary real world problem.
Boston University conducted a 2-year assessment of this program, funded by the Davis Educational Foundation, to evaluate the general education work posted by 100+ students on their e-portfolios between 2011 and 2013. In assessing this work, a team of 11 faculty used a rubric based on AAC&U models to gauge students’ levels of competency in areas such as critical thinking and perspective taking, writing skills, and awareness of historical and rhetorical contexts. Student performance was assessed in seven key learning outcomes over four terms in the program. The seven outcomes were: written and oral communication; analyzing and documenting information; awareness of specific historical literary and cultural contexts; rhetorical and aesthetic conventions; critical thinking and perspective taking; integrative and applied learning; and quantitative methods. The results of the assessments showed that students on average make 22 percent to 33 percent progress in these learning outcomes areas over their four semesters in the program, which is significantly higher than the 7 percent progress that national studies of freshmen and sophomores have shown.23
While the assessment resulted in encouraging quantitative and qualitative data from reviews of 106 e-portfolios, the respondents reported that the department continues to face challenges in terms of faculty and student buy-in. Some students are not posting work from each of their classes, and some faculty are not encouraging them to do so. The department also faces
challenges in translating assessment data into curricular and pedagogical change.
Barriers to Implementing Integrative Programs and Courses
In the “Dear Colleague” letter, the committee asked respondents to provide input on the obstacles to integration at their institution. Specifically, the committee asked respondents: “Are there factors at your institution that make integration across disciplines difficult to achieve? If so, what are they?” Though all of the respondents reported positive impacts of an integrative approach at their institution (many of which we describe in this report), they also reported systemic cultural and administrative barriers to implementation. Among the common barriers reported were:
- Institutional leaders and faculty members lack a commitment to integration.
- Institutional leaders and faculty members lack time to implement integrative approaches.
- Faculty are dis-incentivized to collaborate due to budgetary issues.
- Faculty are isolated in their own disciplines.
- Faculty are reluctant to collaborate in interdisciplinary work (for example, in engineering and business departments).
- General education programs are self-limiting, not allowing for new, innovative courses to be added to the program.
- Traditional divides across the arts and sciences result in funding inequities.
- “Siloing” of an integrative course within a single department leads it to be overlooked by other relevant disciplines.
- Administrative guidance and funding are inadequate.
- Faculty members in the sciences would like their students to take fewer humanities courses.
- It is difficult to introduce additional STEM content because each discipline writes its own requirements for the degree.
These responses, which revealed similar barriers to integration across a variety of different contexts and institutions, offer valuable insight into how doing integration can surface challenges and barriers that may not to be evident when staying within disciplinary boundaries. Further, the rich input the committee received in response to the “Dear Colleague” letter highlights how collecting evidence about integrative activities can help to illuminate not only the potential benefits of integration for student learning outcomes, but also the sorts of institutional factors that encourage or inhibit integrative approaches.
Improving the representation of women and underrepresented minorities in STEM is a national priority. In our analysis of the evidence on the impact of integrative educational programs, the committee found several instances in which the integration of the arts and humanities with STEM was associated with particular benefits for women and underrepresented minorities. For example, in the Stolk and Martello study that evaluated the impact of an integrative engineering and history course, the authors found that women in the course reported more “significant motivational and self-regulated learning gains” compared with the men in the course (Stolk and Martello, 2015, p. 434). Also, University of Rhode Island’s successful International Engineering Program (IEP), in which engineering students double major in a foreign language and an engineering discipline (coupled with a study abroad experience), reported that “women have enrolled in engineering in increasing numbers” (Fischer, 2012). Furthermore, the Foundation Coalition first-year integrated program, which integrates the first-year components of calculus, chemistry, engineering graphics, English, physics, and problem solving into a “cross-discipline engineering, science and English curriculum,” reported that students who identified as underrepresented in engineering had higher retention rates than similar students in the traditional curriculum (Everett et al., 2000; Malavé and Watson, 2000; Willson et al., 1995). Also, when Union College’s Computer Science Department changed its introductory-level curriculum to be more integrative, focusing more on real-world issues and highlighting humanistic themes such as games and creativity (Union College, n.d.; Settle et al., 2013), it saw an increase in the number of women enrolled.
Further, research has demonstrated that the integration of certain arts curricula, such as drawing, painting, and sculpting, can have particular benefits for women and underrepresented minorities in STEM. Rigorous research has shown that exposure to certain arts curricula can improve visio-spatial ability, which is highly associated with success in STEM subjects (Ainsworth et al., 2011; Groenendijk et al., 2013; Uttal and Cohen, 2012). Indeed, dozens of controlled studies performed on students ranging from middle-school through graduate school have demonstrated that visio-spatial training interventions result in improved scores on a variety of generalized visio-spatial skill tests and, at the same time, on specific measures of STEM learning such as classroom tests, standardized STEM tests, persistence in major, and probability of graduating within a STEM major. These studies find that women and some minorities benefit more than other groups of students from visio-spatial training (Sorby, 2009a, 2009b; Sorby and Baartmans, 1996, 2000).
Taken together, these outcomes are significant because they suggest that an integrative approach to STEM education could be one avenue toward improving the representation of women and minority groups in STEM.
The evidence reviewed in this section demonstrates that integrative experiences in college can enhance student learning and development. Despite the lack of strong causal evidence to support the assertion that integration leads to improved educational and career outcomes, the aggregate evidence reviewed by the committee shows that certain educational experiences that integrate the arts and humanities with STEM at the undergraduate level are associated with increased critical thinking abilities, higher order thinking and deeper learning, content mastery, creative problem solving, teamwork and communication skills (Gurnon et al., 2013; Ifenthaler et al., 2015; Jarvinen and Jarvinen, 2012; Malavé and Watson, 2000; Olds and Miller, 2004; Pollack and Korol, 2013; Stolk and Martello, 2015; Thigpen et al., 2004; Willson et al., 1995). Additional outcomes specifically associated with programs that integrate the arts and humanities with engineering at the undergraduate level include higher GPAs, retention rates, and graduation rates (Everett et al., 2000; Malavé and Watson, 2000; Olds and Miller, 2004).
Most of the evidence relating to student outcomes came from studies of programs that integrated the arts and humanities into engineering courses (and to a lesser extent science courses). Much less evidence is available on courses and programs that integrate STEM content and pedagogies into the curricula of students majoring in the humanities and arts. As this chapter demonstrates, this is not due to a shortage of courses and programs that integrate STEM into the humanities and arts. Indeed, entire disciplines, such as Science, Technology, and Society, Bioethics, and Human–Computer Interaction, as well as whole university departments, such as those found at MIT and ASU, arose from the integration of STEM content into established fields in the humanities and arts. Nevertheless, the committee struggled to find evidence of student learning outcomes associated with this form of integration.
Several possible reasons could account for the lack of published course evaluations of STEM integration into the arts and humanities relative to arts and humanities integration into STEM. One hypothesis is that the culture of STEM encourages more data collection and publication in peer-reviewed journals. In this case, faculty based in a STEM discipline might be more likely to carry out an evaluation of student outcomes from an integrative educational experience and publish it in a journal. In contrast,
the culture and scholarship of the humanities and arts lends itself more to argument-based essays, in the case of the humanities, and exhibitions and demonstrations, in the case of the arts.
The committee also found abundant evidence of a growing interest and demand for integration. Faculty members teaching integrative courses and programs who spoke to the committee expressed great conviction that the integrative model has benefited their students. This sentiment is also captured in the responses the committee received to its “Dear Colleague” letter, along with the examples that can be seen in the next section, entitled “Gallery of Illuminating and Inspirational Integrative Practices in Higher Education.” Moreover, the committee catalogued 218 examples of integrative courses and programs at a range of institution types. While this is not an exhaustive sample, and it undoubtedly overlooks many programs and courses, the numbers point to the fact that there is buy-in for this approach at many different institutions and institution types (see “Compendium of Programs and Courses That Integrate the Humanities, Arts, and STEMM,” available at https://www.nap.edu/catalog/24988 under the Resources tab).