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Getting smarter music : a role for reflection in self-directed music learning
Abstract and Figures
Conservatoires all over the world are re-examining their educational roles and practices in a changing cultural and economic context, including re-evaluating their function as sites of relevant learning. This dissertation by publication contributes to this re-examination by investigating understandings of assessment, evaluative reflection, the relationship between know-how and knowledge, autonomous learning, community of practice and the student experience of these pedagogies in one Queensland conservatorium. The study is presented in the form of a synopsis and five publications, with additional data that will form the basis of further post-doctoral publication. It is focused on non-traditional pedagogical processes operating within a bachelor of popular music program, processes that have been intuited by the academic teacher who is also the author of this dissertation. What these processes have in common is the philosophical rejection of teacher-led pedagogy and an insistence upon, and scaffolding of, self-directed student action and reflection. The aim of the dissertation, in keeping with the rationale for a professional doctorate, is to subject this approach to systematic theoretical and empirical scrutiny, and thereby to further refine and strengthen the practices in terms of their capacity to engage young people in self-directed approaches to quality music making. John Biggs's presage/process/product learning model (1999) provides a structure for this systematic evaluation of the pedagogical work. The study understands the learning characteristics that students bring to the program, combined with the structures and pedagogical approaches in place in the program, to be the key presage elements; the learning activities (including assessment as learning) that occur within the program are the key process elements; the key products are the learning outcomes for the students and the ongoing development of the program and pedagogical approaches informed by reflection on empirical data including data collected as part of this research. The study demonstrates the significance of recognising and valuing presage and process elements that enable students to perform from the basis of their intuitive know how while being recorded, and then apply their knowledge-based critical reflection skills to an appraisal of their own work and the work of their peers while hearing the recording played back. While not displacing the teacher as mentor and critical friend, this moves responsibility for learning to the student as a self-monitoring, strategic decision-maker about the nature and quality of their learning products. The program requirement that students write meaningfully about the process appears to encourage the embracing of both conscious and unconscious ways of knowing and doing. As a documentation of this type of teaching, the study presents an argument for a broader incorporation of student-led pedagogy into higher education in general and conservatoria in particular. It concludes that aspects of education that enhance students' abilities to learn, including self- and peer assessment, self-directed learning, reflective practice, and both independent and collaborative work that incorporates program-wide learning, are likely to enhance integrated creative practice. This project has made it possible to disseminate a scholarly engagement with such processes through publication in academic and professional contexts.
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