School of Education


Doctor of Education in Curriculum & Instruction (EdD)


Kenneth R. Tierce


Creativity, High School Students, STEAM, STEM


Art and Design | Curriculum and Instruction | Education | Science and Mathematics Education


The purpose of this case study was to understand how participation in the arts impacts Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) coursework for students at two Southwest Florida High Schools. Within the context of the study, the term “arts’ was used to collectively refer to all visual and performing arts courses, including painting, drawing, graphic arts, two-dimensional and three-dimensional, music, and theatre. Studies show that in order to be innovative, students need to have the experiences that the arts can foster in the right side of the brain, the side associated with creativity (Eisner, 2002). I chose a case study approach for this qualitative study, in which the participants had the opportunity to share their individual experiences in, and insight with, the arts and STEM coursework. The first theory guiding this study was associated with Elliot Eisner, who believed that the arts encourage exploration and play a key part in the development of the imagination and cognition (Eisner, 2002). The second theory that guided this study was Howard Gardner’s theory on multiple intelligences (1995), which states when students are able to approach their coursework from different perspectives, learning comprehension can be displayed in varying ways (Gardner, 1995). Lastly, Maslow’s (1943) theory of human motivation deals with how individuals prioritize their needs, including their need for self-respect and self-actualization (Maslow, 1943). Both sites for this case study offer arts and STEM coursework. Through open-ended interviews and observations with the participants, I collected and analyzed data. Based on the feedback provided by participants, the case study provided insight into how students use learning strategies, skills, and creative problem solving, resulting from their participation in the arts and in their STEM coursework.