Digital Guideline

How to Design a STEAM-based module?
Instructional Goals and Objectives

How to develop?
Example as a course (O4)
Example as a workshop (O5)
Related Reports
External Links


(1) Facts
(2) Concepts
(3) Principles
(4) Skills. (Refer to Skills presented before)
Related Reports
External Links

Teaching/Learning Activities

Partner and Group Collaboration
Inductive Investigation & Inquiry
Deductive Investigation & Inquiry
Synectics (Techniques for Creativity)
Design and Problem Solving
Projects & Reports
Awareness Training / Values Clarification
Direct Instruction (Demonstrations & Presentations)


Role of Assessment in the education
Measurement of Complex Cognitive Outcomes
Performance Based Assessment
Rating Scales

Welcome to WikiSTEAM guideline

This interactive guideline is prepared with the purpose of presenting the core of the research outputs of ArchiSTEAM project which aims raising architects who are self-sufficient and able to develop sustainable and digital skills by means of integrating STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering Arts and Mathematics) to the existing architecture curricula. ArchiSTEAM project delivers 5 intellectual outputs which you may access by clicking the REPORTS button. Furthermore, in order to ease the accessibility to the knowledge produced, WikiSTEAM interactive guideline introduces core concepts of STEAM approach, expected skills and components of designing a STEAM-based teaching module. As you navigate in the interactive chart, brief information regarding these components will be displayed together with the link to related chapters of the reports. If you have any questions or comments please send an e-mail to


Educational research studies are looking for ways to enhance students’ learning and equip students with skills that are helpful to meet 21st century’s demands (Retna, 2015). Easy access of information and high availability of technology makes our lives easier; yet, definition of being a successful student and significant factors that are necessary for being successful both in academic and professional life have also changed. A set of skills that are required for success in 21st century’s societies and professional life are called as 21st century skills. These skills differ from traditional schools’ outcomes in terms of not only being content-based knowledgeable. Critical thinking, creativity, communication and collaboration have been proposed as the Four Cs of 21st century’s learning by United States Based Partnership for 21st century skills which is a non-profit organization founded in 2002 (, 2016).

Educators and academics tried to improve their students’ 21st century skills by using different learning approaches. Science, Technology, Engineering, Math, Art (STEAM) education is one praxis of efforts. STEAM education contains skills, knowledge and beliefs that are collaboratively constructed at the intersection of more than one STEAM subject area (Çorlu, Capraro, & Capraro, 2014). Several studies related to different thinking skills such as critical thinking, computational thinking, analytical thinking has been conducted under higher-order thinking skills (HOTs) label to improve learning outcomes and prepare students to era that we live in.

STEAM approach in teaching aims to prepare individuals with high creative and innovative skills who can achieve in high-tech industry. Furnishing students with STEAM skills are considered as the key for sustainable development in the 21st century. Moreover, STEAM provides a learning frame for instructors of different fields to create an innovative and highly creative learning environment for students. It is a catalyst for students to combine their science and art skills to provide innovative solutions to challenging problems of the real world.

Architecture, since from the very beginning, is accepted as the ultimate profession of integration. Considering the diversity of the design problems, social, economical, cultural and aesthetic dimensions of the design problem and architecture, STEAM approach is particularly important in the architectural education both in terms of necessary subjects to be covered and as base to develop further thinking skills.

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Teaching/Learning Approach in ArchiSTEAM

Constructivist Learning Theory

Basically, constructivism is a paradigm that aims to explain how individuals learn. One of the basic assumption of constructivism is that people construct their own knowledge and the meaning of knowledge based on their own learning experience and observations.

Even though constructivism is not a specific teaching pedagogy, constructivist teaching and learning environments have similar attributes.

Tam (2000) lists the following four basic characteristics of constructivist learning environments, which must be considered when implementing constructivist instructional strategies: (1) Knowledge will be shared between teachers and students. (2) Teachers and students will share authority. (3) The teacher’s role is one of a facilitator or guide. (4) Learning groups will consist of small numbers of heterogeneous students.

Similarly, Jonassen described fundamental characteristics of a constructivist learning environment as follows:

Eight characteristics of constructivist learning environments: 1. Constructivist learning environments provide multiple representations of reality. 2. Multiple representations avoid oversimplification and represent the complexity of the real world. 3. Constructivist learning environments emphasize knowledge construction instead of knowledge reproduction. 4. Constructivist learning environments emphasize authentic tasks in a meaningful context rather than abstract instruction out of context. 5. Constructivist learning environments provide learning environments such as real world settings or case-based learning instead of predetermined sequences of instruction. 6. Constructivist learning environments encourage thoughtful reflection on experience. 7. Constructivist learning environments "enable context and content- dependent knowledge construction." 8. Constructivist learning environments support "collaborative construction of knowledge through social negotiation, not competition among learners for recognition.

Problem-Based Learning (PBL)

PBL is a pedagogical approach that gives the opportunities to students for engaging actively meaningful problems in a collaborative setting. In this approach, students learn while solving real life problems and create own mental representations for learning. It bases on the principle of constructivism by encouraging students as active knowledge seekers and guiding them to create personal mental models with the help of prior knowledge. It also reinforced by social theories of learning by providing social interaction environment in cognitive progress. PBL philosophy considers that learning is a constructive, self-directed, collaborative and contextual activity. At the same time, Problem-Based Learning (PBL) is also a teaching method used in this approach called with the same name. This teaching method provides complex real-world problems as a tool to promote student learning of concepts and principles as well as provides the development of scientific and independent thinking skills, problem-solving abilities, and communication skills of students. The principles of scientific method are used in this teaching method and it can reinforce students for working in groups, finding and evaluating research materials, and provide students' life-long learning (Duch et al, 2001).

Project-Based Learning (PBL)

Project-based learning is a systematic teaching method that provide students with opportunities to construct knowledge and skills with complex, authentic questions and carefully designed products and tasks in real life based. (Markham, Larmer, & Ravitz, 2003) PBL has five definitive features which includes 1) a central project; 2) a constructivist focus on important knowledge and skills; 3) a driving activity in the form of a complex question, problem, or challenge; 4) a learner-driven investigation guided by the teacher; and 5) a real-world project that is authentic to the learner (Thomas, 2000). Project-based learning is a model which differentiates from traditional teaching since the learners and their projects are focused. Learners have the opportunity to "construct own learning that is personally meaningful" and to "work more autonomously". In recent years, a number of X-based learning approaches fitting into the general category of PBL like case-based learning, community-based learning, game-based learning, passion-based learning, service-based learning, team-based learning has emerged.

For more information please refer to:

ArchiSTEAM Skills

Although there is a great diversity in teaching approaches of architecture as it is discussed previously, professional skills aimed to be gained during the architectural education are regulated by DIRECTIVE 85/384/EEC. In this project, it is aimed to prosper architecture students with green skills enabling them to adapt into changing environment, conditions, technology, and demands.

In this regard, three skill sets, namely Ground Skills, Problem Based Learning Skills (PBL) and Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) Skills, are presented focusing on a specific direction of adaptability of individuals. Ground (baseline) skills are to facilitate adaptation/survival of individuals independent of their discipline, age or background. In general, these skills address challenges in professional life in terms of communication and collaboration. PBL Skills, on the other hand, enhance problem-solving abilities through experiential learning. It also promotes solution oriented analytical thinking and decision making. Finally, another complementary skill set addressing ICT is proposed to enrich the capability of students not only to use rapidly developing technologies, but also to prompt to develop and challenge the technological development. Although it might seem that there are repetitious skills in these skill sets, it is an indicator of the necessity to foster the skill sets together.

These skill sets should be renewed continuously in coherence with the objectives of education and in pace with current technologies. Hence, education technologies and methodologies are also subjected to be revised/modified/altered in time. In this regard, any skill set such as provided here should be revised whenever necessary. The framework presented herein should be perceived as a guide reflecting contemporary needs and approaches. Moreover, it exemplifies the general rules of thumbs and principles of content and module design in a broader perspective. Hence, the schema presented within the scope of this project acts as guideline and examplifary application of how to develop a framework for aforementioned goals.

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Instructional Goals and Objectives

Instructional goals can be viewed as outcomes of the instruction. In other words, instructional goals are the description of the knowledge and skills that we want students to gain during the instruction. Providing instructional goals to students before the instruction enables students become mentally and physically ready for the content to be learned. Students should connect instructional goals with real world performance so that students will have a meaningful learning experience. Additionally, instructional goals also provides directions for assessment. Thus, based on the instructional goals, the instructor can determine the function and the type of assessment.

How to Write Instructional Objectives:
One of the most common methods of writing effective instructional objectives is called S.M.A.R.T. The acronym stands for:
  • Specific: Make sure that objectives make the same sense for all including students and instructors.
  • Measurable: Remember that unless you define observable outcomes, you cannot know whether learners gained necessary knowledge and skill at the end of the instruction. Thus, student’s performance must be measurable by both quantitative and qualitative criteria.
  • Action-oriented: make sure that you use action verbs in your objectives so that student’s performance can be evaluated.
  • Realistic: Make sure that expectations from the students are realistic in terms of conditions and time given.
  • Time-Based: Make sure that students are given proper time to attain objectives.

Example of an SMART objective:
After successful completion of this ICT skills module (time-based), students will be able to collect relevant information and explain (action-oriented) its relevance to the given problem (specific, measurable, realistic)

For more information

Exemplary courses (O4)

Exemplary workshops (O5)


In his instructional design model, Yelon (1996) links Content directly with the instructional goals, method and assessment. It means, you have to teach your students related content that will help them gain necessary knowledge and skills to achieve learning outcomes and to perform successfully on the assessment. The content should be relevant, appropriate to the students’ background and their learning styles and structured to provide meaningful learning experience.

Yelon (ibid., p: 108) refers to content as "essential content to teach" and claims that essential content has four sub-categories (or types of knowledge to be taught): (1) Facts (2) Concepts (3) Principles (4) Skills. The basic assumption behind categorizing content under four themes is that each type of content requires different mental processes and efforts in order to be learned. Thus, instructional interventions – which are the means of carrying content to the learner – should be developed accordingly. In the following table, Yelon (1996, p: 109) describes each essential content and proper intervention to teach it.

Table: 4 sub-categories (themes) of the module

Facts Concepts Principles Skills
Ideas Organized set of facts Definition of the Category Definition relating variables Ordered simplified steps
Examples Vividly illustrated substantiation Typical Example – Non-example pairs Evidence showing relationship of variables Demonstration
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Exemplary courses (O4)

Exemplary workshops (O5)

Teaching/Learning Activities

Throughout the history, human kind developed and used several teaching methods to transfer their knowledge and experience to the next generation. In their work 2013 Joyce & Weil & Calhoun categorized teaching methods under 4 main themes.

Social Interaction Family- Relationship of the individual to society or to other persons is emphasised. Individual’s ability to relate to others is prioritised. Some exemplary methods are:
  • Partner and Group Collaboration
  • Role Playing
  • Jurisprudential Inquiry

Information Processing Family- Information processing capability of students is emphasised. The ways students handle stimuli from their environment, organize data, generate concepts and solve problems is prioritised. These methods can be exemplified by:
  • Inductive Investigation & Inquiry
  • Deductive Investigation & Inquiry
  • Memorization
  • Synectics (Techniques for Creativity)
  • Design and Problem Solving
  • Projects & Reports

Personal Family- Development of individuals, their emotional life and selfhood is emphasised. Self-awareness is prioritised. Some exemplary methods are:
  • Indirect Teaching
  • Awareness Training & Values Clarification
  • Role Modeling
  • Self-Reflection

Behavioral Modification Family- Development of efficient systems for sequencing learning tasks and shaping behavior is emphasised. The observable behavior of students is prioritised. These methods can be exemplified by:
  • Direct Instruction (Demonstrations & Presentations)
  • Anxiety Reduction Programmed instruction
  • Simulations

Choosing an appropriate teaching model depends on several conditions. First of all, the teaching model should lead students to the instructional goals. Secondly, learning environment and instructional resources should be appropriate for the teaching method. Finally, the instructor should be capable of successfully applying the model.

For more information

Exemplary courses (O4)

Exemplary workshops (O5)


Assessment is the most important component of an instructional model due to its nature. Assessment requires collecting systematic data about the students’ progress in the learning environment. This data serves for several instructional purposes. First, assessment provides evidence about how instructional goals are realistic or attainable by students. Additionally assessment also indicates how effective the teaching method is, so teacher can modify the method. Finally, assessment provides evidence to make a judgement about the students’ performance.

Due to its multiple functions, there are several assessment types and assessment tools are listed in the literature. One of the best classification is provided by Miller & Linn & Gronlund (2013) in their book entitled "Measurement & Assessment in Teaching" published by Pearson. The following table is extracted from their book. (page 43).

Measurement of Complex Cognitive Outcomes: Performance Based Assessment:
In the context of learning, objective test items (e.g. True/False questions, Multiple Choice Items and Fill in the Blanks items) are most commonly used test items and yet design education in architecture still searches for alternative assessment techniques because of its peculiarities. These test items cannot measure all kinds of learning outcomes but they are convenient for instructors since each item type possesses one single right answer. On the other hand, most learning environments require students to gain and master more complex skills and behaviors which are mostly demonstrated in the authentic learning environments.

Performance assessments provide instructors with a base for evaluating the "process" and the "product" of the learning outcome. Performance-based assessment is also referred to as "authentic assessment" or "alternative assessment" (Miller & Linn & Gronlund 2013, p: 255). The most important advantage which performance-based assessment provides is that this type of measurement allows to measure complex learning outcomes that cannot be measured through other types of measurement. Especially, in academic fields like Architecture, critical and creative thinking skills of students are keys to success. And those skills cannot be measured unless performance-based assessment methods are employed.

There are also some limitations that should be linked to performance-based assessment. First, sometimes judgmental scoring might be inevitable in this type of measurement, because different observers may rate the same performance differently. Second, this type of measurement is often time consuming. But, there are solutions to overcome these problems.

For more information

Exemplary courses (O4)

Exemplary workshops (O5)

Tips and Tricks

Four major issues are pondered within the project; skill sets to be conveyed, assessment of the learning process, features of the learning environment and the idea of modules based on the STEAM approach.

In the course of the project the following issues have been observed:

  • Architectural education and especially design education has always been a controversial issue and each school has its own way of structuring their curriculum, and yet what is most common is the implicit implementation of STEAM.
  • When the curricula of the schools, including METU, AAU and UNIBO were examined, one of the major problems was to assess “how much STEAM is incorporated” in any course or in any module.
  • “What should be the expected skill sets to be conveyed to students in relation to the STEAM approach” is not clear.
  • The role of constructivist learning and PBL in the curriculum needs to be further discussed in the realm of STEAM in a more explicit way by most of the universities.

The following issues are discussed in relation with the observation:
  • In the field of architecture, three skill sets – ground skills, PBL skills and ICT skills – on top of the professional skills that are gained during education are essential for students, not only in their span of education but also in their professional life. These skills can be considered as green skills for the sustainability of their profession.
  • The STEAM approach as a way of structured integration of various disciplines invokes learning experience and furnishes creativity.
  • The assessment process and means of assessments are crucial in the learning process in regard to setting the proper PBL environment and supporting the learning process of students.
  • STEAM based modules are important means to enhance the learning process. Hence it is important to carefully design such modules within the curriculum.
  • A module can span a short period of time or can cover the whole period of education and can be advanced according to the level of students.
  • In the modules, the way the problem is assigned to students and the nature of the problem determine the success of the learning process and the integration of STEAM by engaging students more.

For more information:
O4 Report
O5 Report