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Getting smarter music : a role for reflection in self-directed music learning

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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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... Given the strong relationship between HME and the conservatoire tradition, 2 the relative absence of collaborative learning in HME is understandable and explains why research on collaborative learning is limited. Pedagogical practices for music practice or performance within HME are largely based on established conservatoire practices which emphasize the development of the individual's contribution through the one-to-one model (Bjøntegaard, 2015;Carey & Grant, 2015;Gaunt & Westerlund, 2013b;Lebler, 2007;Virkkula, 2015). Ensemble studies such as orchestras, choirs, bands, and chamber groups within the conservatoire have also tended to mimic the oneto-one model in a group setting (Gaunt & Westerlund, 2013b), however it is acknowledged that some student-led, non-conducted ensembles and chamber groups in conservatoires can display at least some characteristics 2 Sloboda (2011) notes in relation to the British context that conservatoires do not have a monopoly on the training of musicians and that this work is also done in universities and colleges. ...
... 13 Dewey (2011) describes a similar phenomenon in relation to the democratization of knowledge and learning during the Industrial Revolution, with easier access to printed materials, increased means of communication and travel (see also Jackson, 1998 Jenkins et al. (2006) write specifically about the ways in which educational systems need to prepare students to be literate in new media, however, the underlying tenets of a participatory culture are especially relevant considerations for the teaching and learning of music practice and performance in HME. As Lebler (2007) notes, being a member of a participatory culture has a democratizing effect on the notions of expert/novice which has implications for the traditional power dynamic between teacher and student, or master and apprentice. In such contexts, the emphasis for teachers shifts from the transmission of knowledge from expert to novice, to designing learning environments within which students are co-creators of learning (Lebler, 2007). ...
... As Lebler (2007) notes, being a member of a participatory culture has a democratizing effect on the notions of expert/novice which has implications for the traditional power dynamic between teacher and student, or master and apprentice. In such contexts, the emphasis for teachers shifts from the transmission of knowledge from expert to novice, to designing learning environments within which students are co-creators of learning (Lebler, 2007). ...
Thesis
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https://www120.secure.griffith.edu.au/rch/items/d9c06067-ca17-4679-ad52-13e7692e0151/1/ In Australia, higher music education faces challenging times— university reform has ushered in an era of public accountability and budget cuts; the sector has become portfolio career-focussed and a university education must prepare students for uncertain futures. Within higher music education, collaborative learning has been identified as one way to address these types of challenges. There has recently been increased interest in the use of collaborative learning in a variety of higher music education contexts. To date, however, collaborative learning for music practice or performance in higher music education remains little used and under-researched. Situated within a practitioner inquiry framework, this study employed narrative approaches to discover participants’ experiences of collaborative learning in first year music practice courses at the University of Southern Queensland, a regional Australian university. The participants in this study were students who completed the first year music practice courses in 2014 and the teacher/researcher. Preliminary research during 2012 and a pilot study in 2013 shaped the focus and design of the study. Data were collected from students’ essays, journals and short answer questionnaires. Teacher’s data took the form of a teacher/researcher diary. Thematic analysis of students’ essays and journals established the ways in which collaborative learning built students’ individual and collective agency. Narrative analysis of the entire data set was undertaken to develop a robust picture of the value created through learning music practice collaboratively.
... Informal learning within small groups is central to the pedagogies of popular music practice (Green, 2001;Folkestad, 2006;Lebler, 2007;Gaunt, 2017;Smart & Green, 2017). Using Wenger, Trayner and de Laat's (2011) framework for Promoting and assessing value creation in communities and networks, this paper explores the value of collaborative learning within first year heterogeneous student groups in a popular music program. ...
... Virkkula, 2016a). When collaborative learning is used for music practice and performance, masters and apprentices become co-constructors of learning (Lave & Wenger, 1991;Lebler, 2007;Hanley, Baker & Pavlidis, 2018). These informal group practices contrast with those of the conservatoire, where one-to-one tuition is the predominant educational model for music practice and performance (Bjøntegaard, 2015;Carey & Grant, 2015;Virkkula, 2015;Gaunt, 2017). ...
Article
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This article presents evidence of the value of collaborative learning for students working in small heterogeneous groups within first year music practice courses in an Australian university popular music program. Wenger, Trayner, and de Laat’s framework for promoting and assessing value creation in communities and networks was used to gather and analyse data from students throughout one academic year. Collaborative learning created value for students through peer-to-peer learning which cultivated new skills and improved performance, causing students to reframe their criteria for musical and personal success. The value of collaborative learning promotes its use both within and beyond popular music degree programs.
... The rigour of the research also indicates a current imperative among academia for this topic to be researched correctly and to be taken seriously. Topics attracting research in popular music, and related course design, include networking (Bigham, 2013;Carradini, 2016;Dobson, 2011;Green, 2002, Klopper, 2010Schwartz, 1993), peer learning (Carey & Lebler, 2012;Längler, Nivala & Gruber, 2016;Lebler, Ballantyne, Harrison and Carey, 2009;Lebler, 2007aLebler, , 2007bLebler, , 2008Odegard, 2019;Silverman, 2009), industry relevance (Bartleet et al, 2012;Carey & Lebler, 2012;Cashman, 2012;Forrest, 1999;Hannan, 2006;Harrison, O'Bryan & Lebler, 2013;Lebler & Weston, 2015;Rowley & Dunbar-Hall, 2015;Watson & Forrest, 2011) and portfolio careers (Bennett, Lancaster and O'Hara, 2012;Carey and Lebler, 2012;Papageorgi and Welch, 2014). Barton (2018) examined the relationship between music, culture and society, and how this influences teaching and learning in music. ...
Conference Paper
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A study conducted by researchers at the University of Tasmania investigated the curriculum content and pedagogical practices of Contemporary Popular Music (CPM) bachelor degree (AQF7) courses offered by Australian higher education institutions. Data were collected in the first semester of 2018 via online surveys and interviews of students, alumni and educators as well as documentary data in the form of unit descriptors of every relevant core unit of each course investigated. Data were analysed using the processes of Inductive Thematic Analysis. Participants observed a growing diversity in recent student cohorts within AQF7 CPM courses. This paper presents data and discussion on how the curricula and pedagogical practices of the courses have evolved in order to cater for an increasingly diverse student cohort. A growing number of international students enrolling in CPM courses has caused educators to consider broadening their perceptions on curricula content and the definitional boundaries of 'popular music' to cater for the expectations of a culturally diverse cohort. Also, students applying to study in CPM courses are coming from an increasingly diverse academic background, many having had no formal music training. Course designers have managed to construct courses offering a broad equity of access to students from diverse cultural backgrounds, and with non-traditional musical training. This paper presents findings regarding students' and educators' perceptions on the diverse curricula and pedagogies employed to cater for the increasingly diverse cohort. The study found Australian tertiary institutions delivering CPM courses have engaged with an eclectic array of pedagogical practices in order to maximise student agency and included a broad, globally informed classification of genre. The discussion regards the consequences of these developments in Australian CPM education regarding the influence on, and response to, industry and broader socio-cultural factors present in Australia.
... It is expected that all journals selected will be of a scholarly standard that meets the criteria as set out in the Australian Government Department of Industry, Innovation, Climate Change, Science, Research and Tertiary Education (DIICCSRTE) 2014 Higher Education Research Data Collection Specifications. To get a better idea of what was expected we sought examples of theses by publication on similar topics from other universities (Latukefu, 2010;Lebler, 2007). Jackson (2013, p. 355) commented that in Australia the "institutional guidelines in universities nationwide are inadequate for producing theses of comparable quality to conventional dissertations". ...
Article
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Chapter
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