STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) has attained a level of importance in education policy that sees it in receipt of far greater support than other educational disciplines, particularly the arts. Proponents argue that STEM is needed to prepare future generations to be economically and nationally competitive in a globalized knowledge society. Obscured in the rhetorical and material support for STEM is the tendency of such learning opportunities to disproportionately benefit dominant social groups, and marginalize historically underrepresented and dominated groups. There is a need to address the inequities in provision and take-up of STEM that reproduce historical patterns of educational attainment inequality. This project contributes to this gap by studying the experiences of young students from underrepresented backgrounds as they engage in STEM learning through media arts.
Led by Dr Sam Mejias, Learning from Creative Software Production: Music and Video in London will generate an evidence base for educational policies that foreground equity in STEM through an emphasis on transdisciplinary learning. The project is a multi-year ethnographic study that investigates how creative software learning experiences in music and video production also develop understandings of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) in young people aged 14-18. Working with an alternative education creative arts sixth form school, Wac Arts College, the project follows students’ usage of creative software for making and learning. Through collaborative knowledge construction processes – such as co-production of original music using mappable software-hardware interfaces – the project investigates how digital technologies associated with creative arts production develop wider scientific/technological understandings, and what motivates young people disillusioned with education to pursue creative software.
Throughout the project, we track how young people’s learning trajectories lead to or encourage STEM-related connections, understandings and outcomes. Individual case studies will explore the differences in software engagement experiences of young people who are from a range of different economic, social and educational backgrounds; have differential access to creative learning opportunities or resources; possess varying experience levels in the creative arts, or science and technology; and have different motivationsorpurposes for using creative software. The young people involved, urban residents of London, are mainly from underrepresented and socially, economically and ethnically diverse backgrounds.