A review of multi-sensory technologies in a Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics (STEAM) classroom

Johann Taljaard


This article reviews the literature on multi-sensory technology and, in particular, looks at answering the question: ‘What multi-sensory technologies are available to use in a science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics (STEAM) classroom, and do they affect student engagement and learning outcomes?’ Here engagement is defined as motivation, interest, curiosity and attitude. This review identifies tools and software from a burgeoning, yet limited literature. To answer this question, this review will include the following: defining learning styles; background on multi-sensory instruction; multi-sensory education today; STEM and the rise of STEAM; a look at some multi-sensory tools; and the benefits of using multi-sensory technologies in education. 


multisensory (multi-sensory, multi sensory) instruction; learning motivation; learning outcome; multimedia; information technology; multi-touch tablets; visual stimuli; somatosensory stimuli; Virtual Reality; Immersive VR;

Full Text:



Auld, L. W. S., & Pantelidis, V. S. (1994). Exploring virtual reality for classroom use. TechTrends, 39(1), 29–31. doi:10.1007/BF02763872

Bauer, E. (1991). The relationships between and among learning styles perceptual preferences, instructional strategies, mathematics achievement, and attitude toward mathematics of learning disabled and emotionally handicapped students in a suburban junior high school. Unpublished Doctoral dissertation, St. John's University, New York. Dissertation Abstracts International, 53(06) 1378.

Bellan, J. M., & Scheurman, G. (1998). Actual and virtual reality: Making the most of field trips. Social Education, 62(1), 35–40. Retrieved from https://www.learntechlib.org/p/84350

Borst, G., & Kosslyn, S. M. (2010). Fear selectively modulates visual mental imagery and visual perception. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 63, 833–839. doi:10.1080/17470211003602420

Cleland, C. C., & Clark, C. M. (1966). Sensory deprivation and aberrant behavior among idiots. American Journal of Mental Deficiency, 71(2), 213–225. Retrieved from http://psycnet.apa.org/psycinfo/1966-13440-001

Clifford, S. (n.d.). Multi-sensory instruction. Retrieved from http://www.sarahcliffordtutoring.com/multi-sensory-instruction.html

Dewey, J. (1916). Democracy and education: An introduction to philosophy of education. Mineola, NY: Macmillan.

Dunn, R., & Dunn, K. (2005). Thirty-five years of research on perceptual strengths: Essential strategies to promote learning. The Clearing House, 78, 273–276. doi:10.1080/00098655.2005.10757631

Fleming, N. (2001). Teaching and learning styles. Christchurch, New Zealand: N. D. Fleming.

Fleming, N., & Baume, D. (2006). Learning styles again: VARKing up the right tree! Educational Developments, 7, 4–7. Retrieved from http://www.vark-learn.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/Educational-Developments.pdf

Fleming, N. D., & Mills, C. (1992). Not another inventory, rather a catalyst for reflection. Retrieved from https://goo.gl/qDeqFa

Gardner, H. (1983). Frames of mind - The theory of multiple intelligences. New York: Basic Books.

Gaugin, D. (2008). Artists in the workforce: 1995-2005. National Endowment for the Arts. Retrieved from https://www.arts.gov/sites/default/files/ArtistsInWorkforce.pdf

Hallahan, D. P., & Mercer, C. D. (2001, August). Learning disabilities: Historical perspectives. Paper presented at the Learning Disabilities Summit: Building a Foundation for the Future. Retrieved from https://web.archive.org/web/20070527002321/http://www.nrcld.org/resources/ldsummit/hallahan2.shtml

Halpern, A. A. (2003). An examination of the relationship between sensory modality preferences and self-directed learning. Unpublished Master’s thesis, University of Alaska, Anchorage.

Heeter, C. (1992). Being there: The subjective experience of presence. Presence: Teleoperators and Virtual Environments, 1, 262 – 271. doi:10.1109/VRAIS.1995.512482

Henry, M., & Miles, T. R. (1998). The Orton tradition: Influences past and present. Annals of Dyslexia, 48, 1–26.

Herbert, G. A. S., & Opper, S. (1969). Piaget’s theory of intellectual development. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.

Honigsfeld, A., & Dunn, R. (2003). High school male and female learning-style similarities and differences in diverse nations. The Journal of Educational Research, 96, 195–206. doi:10.1080/00220670309598809

Jacobson, D. (2004). Haptic soundscapes: Developing novel multi-sensory tools to promote access to geographic information. WorldMinds: Geographical perspectives on 100 problems, 96(1), 229–230. doi:10.1111/j.1467-8306.2006.00510_14

Jakesch, M., Zachhuber, M., Leder, H., Spingler, M., & Carbon, C. C. (2011). Scenario-based touching: On the influence of top-down processes on tactile and visual appreciation. Research in Engineering Design, 22, 143–152. doi:10.1007/s00163-010-0102-5

Jampole, E. S., Konopak, B. C., Readence, J. E., & Moser, E. B. (1991). Using mental imagery to enhance gifted elementary students’ creative writing. Reading Psychology, 12, 183–197. doi:10.1080/0270271910120301

Jayakanthan, R. (2002). Application of computer games in the field of education. Electronic Library, 20, 98–102. doi:10.1108/02640470210697471

Joshi, R. M., Dahlgren, M., & Boulware-Gooden, R. (2002). Teaching reading in an inner city school through a multisensory teaching approach. Annals of Dyslexia, 52, 229–242. doi:10.1007/s11881-002-0014-9

Keefe, J. W. (1979). Learning style: An overview. Student Learning Styles: Diagnosing and Prescribing Programs, 1, 1–17.

Kolb, A. Y., & Kolb, D. A. (2012). Experiential learning theory. In Encyclopedia of the Sciences of Learning (pp. 1215-1219). Springer US. doi:10.1108/S2048-045820140000004004

Kwon, S. B., Nam, D., & Lee, T. W. (2011). The effects of convergence education based STEAM on elementary school students’ creative personality. Proceedings of the 19th International Conference on Computers in Education, ICCE 2011 (pp. 783–785).

Liu, C. J., & Chiang, W. W. (2014). Theory, method and practice of neuroscientific findings in science education. International Journal of Science and Mathematics Education, 12, 629–646. doi:10.1007/s10763-013-9482-0

Madden, M., Lenhart, A., Duggan, M., Cortesi, S., & Gasser, U. (2013). Teens and technology 2013. Washington, DC: Pew Internet & American Life Project.

Orton, S. T. (1925). Word-blindness in school children. Archives of Neurology & Psychiatry, 14, 581-615.

Orton, S. T. (1928). Specific reading disability - Strephosymbolia. The Journal of the American Medical Association 90, 1095-99.

Peterson-Stroz, L. A. (1997). A cross-disciplinary curriculum of art and writing: Using the sensory properties to teach printmaking, book making, and creative (memoir) writing. Unpublished Doctoral dissertation, University of Arizona, Tucson. Retrieved from http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/879736219

Philpot, T. A., Hall, R. H., Hubing, N., & Flori, R. E. (2005). Using games to teach statics calculation procedures: Application and assessment. Computer Applications in Engineering Education, 13, 222–232. doi:10.1002/cae.20043

Piro, J. (2010). Going From STEM to STEAM. Education Week, 2010(24), 21–23. Retrieved from http://www.ischoolcampus.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/03/Going-From-STEM-to-STEAM.pdf

Pohan, C. A., & Kelley, N. L. (2004). Making content come alive for English learners: A student teacher’s success story. Action in Teacher Education, 25, 58–64. doi:10.1080/01626620.2004.10648297

Powers, D. A., & Darrow, M. (1994). Special education and virtual reality: Challenges and possibilities. Journal of Research on Cumputing in Education, 27, 111–21. doi:10.1080/08886504.1994.10782120

Praveen, A. V. (2016). What is multisensory teaching techniques? Learning Center for children who learn differently, their teachers and parents in Dubai, Middle East. Lexiconreadingcenter.org. Retrieved from http://www.lexiconreadingcenter.org/what-is-multisensory-teaching-techniques

Preminger, S. (2012). Transformative art: art as means for long-term neurocognitive change. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 6, 96. http://doi.org/10.3389/fnhum.2012.00096

Prigge, D. J. (2002). Ways to promote brain-based teaching and learning. Intervention in School and Clinic, 37, 237–241.

Rains, J. R., Kelly, C. A., & Durham, R. L. (2008). Multi-sensory teaching techniques in elementary mathematics: Theory and. Journal of Theory and Practice in Education, 4, 239–252.

Raskind, M., Smedley, T. M., & Higgins, K. (2005). Virtual technology: Bringing the world into the special education classroom. Intervention in School and Clinic, 41, 114–119. doi:10.1177/10534512050410020201

Reich, J. (2013, July 22). The iPad as a tool for creation to strengthen learning. Mind/Shift. Retrieved from https://ww2.kqed.org/mindshift/2013/07/22/potential-and-reality-the-ipad-as-a-tool-for-creation/

Shams, L., & Seitz, A. R. (2008). Benefits of multisensory learning. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 12(11), 411–417. doi:10.1016/j.tics.2008.07.006

Supalo, C. A., Wohlers, H. D., & Humphrey, J. R. (2011). Students with blindness explore chemistry at “Camp Can Do.” Journal of Science Education for Students with Disabilities, 15(1). doi:10.14448/jsesd.04.0001

Taljaard, J. (2016). Scoping protocol - Implementing multisensory technologies in secondary education. Retrieved from https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B3Bytu0X03ehLVZyRnhKRnFpUTA/view

Tong, K., & Kong, H. (2011). A multi-sensory approach to enhancing Chinese writing. International Journal of Pedagogies and Learning, 6, 206–218. doi:10.5172/ijpl.2011.6.3.206

Walling, D. R. (2014). Designing learning for tablet classrooms: Innovations in instruction - Using tablet technology for multisensory learning. In Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2014 (pp. 89–94). doi:10.1007/978-3-319-02420-2_15

Wehrwein, E. A., Lujan, H. L., & DiCarlo, S. E. (2007). Gender differences in learning style preferences among undergraduate physiology students. Advances in Physiology Education, 31, 153-157. Retrieved from http://advan.physiology.org/content/31/2/153.short. doi:10.1152/advan.00060.2006.

West, T. G. (1994, September-October). Advanced interaction: A return to mental models and learning by doing. Computers & Graphics, 18(5), 685–689. doi: 10.1016/0097-8493(94)90162-7

Wexelblat, A. (1993). Virtual reality. Boston, MA: Academic Press Professional.

Yakman, G. (2008). STΣ@M Education: An overview of creating a model of integrative education. Retrieved from http://www.steamedu.com/2088_PATT_Publication.pdf

Yakman, G., & Lee, H. (2012). Exploring the exemplary STEAM education in the U.S. as a practical educational framework for Korea. doi:10.1017/CBO9781107415324.004

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5204/jld.v9i2.274
Abstract Views:

Article Metrics

Metrics Loading ...

Metrics powered by PLOS ALM


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Contact | Announcements | © Queensland University of Technology | ISSN: 1832-8342