STEAM (STEM + the Arts) and Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) Concentrations Meet the Needs of Society and Students
Busy teachers who want to advance their education, knowledge, and skills have more options for flexible learning via online and hybrid master’s degree programs. But, the tough question is what direction should they go? To meet some shifting needs of society and students, two new options are now available at American Public University: STEAM (STEM + the Arts) and Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).
These new concentrations were launched in September, 2015 as options within the M.Ed. Teaching program. Students now have eight concentrations to choose from in this degree program.
M.Ed. Teaching – STEAM (STEM + the Arts)
The spread of a Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) focus continues to gain momentum in educational curriculum and policy as a means to better prepare K-12 (and K-16+) students to be competitive, innovative, global contributors to society and an evolving high-tech workforce. In 2006, Georgette Yakman developed the concept of STEAM, which is STEM + the Arts. More specifically, Yakman recommended that Science & Technology should be interpreted through Engineering & the Arts, while being based in Mathematical elements.
The M.Ed. Teaching degree plan allows licensed teachers to increase their knowledge about the interwoven components of all elementary curriculum areas, including science, technology, engineering, math, and the arts. The concentration courses expose teachers to new ways of thinking about teaching with, through, and about the arts in interdisciplinary ways in order to foster engagement, motivation, achievement, and creativity among elementary children.
You may be thinking: What about STREAM? STREAM refers to STEM + Reading + the Arts. The M.Ed. Teaching program addresses reading, writing, and literacy across and within courses.
Many teachers need more focused instruction in the STEAM area and will be better prepared to attend to the recently released Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). There are few STEAM degree or concentration programs in existence. Since the M.Ed. Teaching – STEAM Concentration is only a concentration of three STEAM focused courses, it may be less intimidating, more appealing, and help teachers advance their practice through a more comprehensive degree plan.
M.Ed. Teaching – Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) estimated in 2012 that 1 in 88 children, age 8, will have an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). In 2014, the CDC estimated that 1 in 68 children, age 8, have ASD in the United States. With increasing numbers of children with ASD it is imperative that teachers have options for advanced course work in order to better meet the needs of children with autism in their classrooms.
The ASD concentration provides a framework for teachers who want to learn more about Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). With a rise in prevalence of ASD in the U.S. and beyond, it is becoming more critical that teachers are equipped with knowledge about ASD characteristics, laws, research, and evidence-based practices. This concentration presents teachers with historical views of ASD, perspectives on medications and side effects, instructional and intervention strategies, federal legislation, assessment instruments, and programmatic considerations.
This program meets the needs of educators with interests within both public and private school contexts and includes an emphasis on the Council for Exceptional Children – Advanced Special Education Developmental Disabilities and Autism Specialist (CEC – AAS).
[Related: Landing Your First Online Teaching Job]
This article originally appeared on our fellow APUS blog, Edutrends Online.
About the Author: Dr. Kathleen Tate has over 18 years of experience as a special education teacher, researcher, and professor. She is Professor and Program Director of Teaching in the School of Education at American Public University. She received a B.A. in Soviet & East European Studies with a minor in Economics and M.Ed. in Special Education from the University of Texas and a Ph.D. in Elementary Education from Florida State University. Dr. Tate also has lifetime Texas teaching certificates in Elementary 1st-8th, PreK-12th Special Education, and 1st-8th Theatre Arts; and completed graduate coursework for Visual Impairment Certification PreK-12th. Her research interests include humane education; mixed methods research; underserved/underrepresented populations; arts-based, multimedia, and multimodal teaching and learning; and integrated/thematic instruction.