This study investigates sixth-grade special education students'
achievement, competency beliefs, fascination, and engagement with science.
Students learned about tardigrades by participating in a STEAM hands-on
investigation. Comparable to this study, Christensen, Knezek, & Tyler-Wood
(2015), found hands-on STEM activities were likely to cultivate engagement and
maintain “positive dispositions” at middle school levels. Similarly, Hwang &
Taylor (2016) found that accessibility through art integration with STEM,
engaged and motivated students to participate. While previous studies such as
these are significant, there is a lack of research focusing on diverse learners.
During this study, students learned basic skills with dissecting and compound
microscopes to examine tardigrades. Driving questions included tardigrades’
ability to survive extreme conditions. STEAM was integrated in the unit in the
form of dance and painting. Summative assessments included a multiple-choice
test with a constructed response question and an art component. Likert scale
surveys were used to collect data for action research. The research question
was: How do hands-on learning and art integration with tardigrades affect
students’ achievement, competency beliefs, engagement and fascination with
science? The unit was part of Research Topics in Plant Biology-Systematics at
Southern Illinois University Carbondale and Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship
Participants will learn how hands-on learning and art integration with tardigrades affect students’ achievement, competency beliefs, engagement, and fascination with science.
April Bartnick (Carruthers Elementary School: Murphysboro, IL)