Past studies examined the role of performing arts within a STEM-based curriculum, but there has been little research to date on how to fully integrate the two into one unified program at the higher education level. A qualitative study was conducted utilizing a phenomenological approach vis-à-vis four focus groups with students engaged in the Performing Arts Scholarship Program at Rochester Institute of Technology in Rochester, NY. The commitment-trust theory of relationship marketing as well as self-efficacy theory were considered to ground the theoretical framework surrounding the success of the program and the experiences of a sample of 951 Performing Arts Scholars. Entering its fourth year of existence in fall 2022, the RIT Performing Arts Scholarship Program continues to evolve. Very little data has been collected as of the time of this study on the success of this program or the shared experiences of the students participating in performing arts at RIT. The results of this study confirmed that students are seeking to further blur the boundaries between the STEM and liberal arts degrees they are pursuing and their talents and passions in the performing arts. The researcher also uncovered how this program can be strengthened through the first-hand stories of participants involved in the music, theatre, dance, and technical production opportunities at RIT. Using those findings, recommendations are presented for other institutions seeking implement a similar model for STEAM education all while resolving certain tensions between STEM and STEAM to potentially come closer to finding a solid balance between the two.
Service Leadership and Innovation (MS)
Department, Program, or Center
Willmott, Benjamin, "Assessing the Performing Arts Experience at a STEM-based Institution" (2022). Thesis. Rochester Institute of Technology. Accessed from
RIT – Main Campus