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Designing new, technology- based musical instruments in primary education


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One of the ways in which pupils in Dutch primary education are being equipped with 21 st Century Skills is through Design-based Learning. Building musical instruments could be an interesting entry point for Design-based Learning in music education. In this educational design research study, we explored how this approach could be applied to designing and building new, technology-based musical instruments. Workshops were developed on the principles of Design-based Learning and carried out in two cycles. Each cycle took place at a different primary school and was evaluated through observations, interviews with classroom teachers, and learner reports from pupils. The findings showed that the phases of Design-based Learning are helpful in structuring the pupils' learning process when designing and building new, technology-based musical instruments. Furthermore, a Design-based Learning approach in music education holds the possibility for the development of the 21st century skills of problem-solving, creative thinking, and cooperation. The findings also illuminated challenges. Workshop leaders not only need to have content knowledge of science, technology, and music, but also need to know how to guide a design process and how to approach problems that can arise during that process, such as design fixation.
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Designing new, technology-
based musical instruments in
primary education
Journal of the European
Teacher Education Network
© The Author(s) 2021
Michel Hogenes
, Anouk Diepenbroek
, Melissa Bremmer
, and Marien Hogerheijde
Design-based Learning, technology, instrument building, music education, primary education
One of the ways in which pupils in Dutch primary education are being equipped with 21st
Century Skills is through Design-based Learning. Building musical instruments could be an
interesting entry point for Design-based Learning in music education. In this educational
design research study, we explored how this approach could be applied to designing and
building new, technology-based musical instruments. Workshops were developed on the
principles of Design-based Learning and carried out in two cycles. Each cycle took place at a
different primary school and was evaluated through observations, interviews with classroom
teachers, and learner reports from pupils. The findings showed that the phases of Design-
based Learning are helpful in structuring the pupils’ learning process when designing and
building new, technology-based musical instruments. Furthermore, a Design-based Learning
approach in music education holds the possibility for the development of the 21st century
skills of problem-solving, creative thinking, and cooperation. The findings also illuminated
challenges. Workshop leaders not only need to have content knowledge of science,
technology, and music, but also need to know how to guide a design process and how to
approach problems that can arise during that process, such as design fixation.
Michel Hogenes, PhD, is Principal lecturer at The Hague University of Applied Sciences and Codarts, Rotterdam University of the Arts, and
independent researcher for the Arts Education Research Group of the Amsterdam University of the Arts, the Netherlands.
Anouk Diepenbroek, MSc, is Cultural Education Expert at FluXus Center for the Arts, Zaandam, the Netherlands.
Melissa Bremmer, PhD, is Professor of Arts Education at the Amsterdam University of the Arts, the Netherlands.
Marien Hogerheijde is teacher at Media College Amsterdam, the Netherlands.
Journal of the European Teacher Education Network
The future of education and curriculum development are high on the agendas of Dutch
educational organizations, educational support services, and politicians (Hotze, Bremmer,
Heijnen, Beamer, Pijls & Roos, 2019; Nout, 2017). Now more than ever, it is being
acknowledged that education plays an important role in preparing pupils to become citizens
who can contribute to societal challenges, such as globalization, climate change, and
migration (Groenendijk & Heijnen, 2018). In this context, the so-called 21st Century Skills
such as critical thinking, creativity, collaboration and media literacy – are receiving attention
as pupils will need these skills to develop into critical citizens of our future society (Tanis,
Dobber, Zwart, & Van Oers, 2014).
One of the ways in which pupils in Dutch primary education are being equipped with
these 21st Century Skills is through ‘Science & Technology’, which is not a separate school
subject, but an approach to teaching and learning through ‘Inquiry and Design-based
Learning’. This specific method of teaching and learning is based on how scientists and
designers approach problems (Kraaij, 2015; TechniekPact, 2018). It allows pupils to explore
and experiment, and to integrally acquire knowledge and skills (Van Keulen, 2010; Van
Wessels, Kleinhans, Van Keulen & Baar, 2014). For instance, during Inguiry-based Learning
pupils explore problems, set up small-scale research projects, carry out these projects, draw
conclusions, and present their research outcomes. In the case of Design-based Learning, pupils
sketch a design, realize the design, test it, and customize the design as part of a design cycle
(Malmberg, Rohaan, Van Duijn & Klapwijk, 2019). This article will specifically focus on Design-
based Learning.
Although the approach is meant to be applied to any school subject in primary
education, in the Netherlands Design-based Learning is mostly applied in the domain of the
natural sciences and mathematics. This domain resembles the international movement of
‘Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics’ education, so-called STEM-education
(Goldston & Downey, 2013). STEM-education originated in the late 1990s, and has known
many variations. For example, it has included the R for robotics and the G for girls, and more
recently, there has been a call to add the A for arts to create STEAM-education (Land, 2013).
Bequette and Bequette (2012) note that examining how art, science, technology, and math
can be integrated in artworks, and experiencing how the boundaries between these
disciplines can be blurred, holds the possibility to develop thinking dispositions such as 21st
Hogenes et al.
Century Skills that are valued not only within, but also beyond the arts. Introducing pupils to
hybrid works of art can help them understand more about creative and artistic processes and
design thinking (Bequette & Bequette, 2012; Guyotte, Sochacka, Costantino, Kellam, &
Walther, 2015), and can confront pupils with materials that traditionally have not been used
in the domain of the arts but have been part of the domain of science and technology
(Grushka, Lawry, Clement, Hope, & Devine, 2016).
!As STEAM-education has much to offer pupils, the question is how Design-based
Learning can be applied within Dutch arts education, instead of solely within natural sciences
and mathematics. Music education, for example, could be an interesting entry point for
Design-based Learning. Although often overlooked as an activity in music education (Smith,
2018), building musical instruments offers pupils opportunities to sketch a design, build, test,
and (re)adjust instruments, and – finally – to present them to a wider audience. Soltau (2014)
notes that creating new, experimental musical instruments not only promotes artistry and
innovation, but pupils can also develop their creativity. Moreover, 21st-century technologies
offer whole new possibilities to design and build instruments, expanding perspectives of what
can be viewed as musical instruments.
Currently, the Dutch cultural organization SoundLAB already is expanding pupils
notion of musical instruments by bringing them into contact with experimental, technology-
based musical instruments (Diepenbroek, 2015). SoundLAB organizes workshops for primary
education pupils who learn to improvise and compose music on these newly developed,
experimental instruments. In the ongoing development of instruments, the designers of
SoundLAB use different technologies, such as electro-acoustics, and analogue and digital
synthesis, sometimes in combination with sensors and mini computers/micro-controllers,
such as arduinos. Although the use of these technologies is not exclusive to professionals
(Challis, 2009), so far, SoundLAB has not offered building technology-based musical
instruments as an activity in primary education. However, SoundLAB is interested in shifting
the process of designing and building, technology-based instruments to pupils in primary
education, to give them ownership of the instruments and to develop their creative skills.
In this research, we wondered whether we could pair the pupils’ development of 21st
Century Skills through Design-based Learning with the development of technology-based
musical instruments under guidance of experienced workshop leaders of the cultural
organization SoundLAB. Therefore, this research study asked the following questions: “How
Journal of the European Teacher Education Network
can Design-based Learning be applied to designing and building new, technology-based
musical instruments in primary education for the purpose of making music?”, Which 21st
Century Skills do pupils develop through designing and building newly developed musical
instruments”, and What are the challenges of a Design-based Learning approach to designing
and building newly developed musical instruments, according to the pupils and classroom
Educational design research
This research study was set up as an educational design research study. Nieveen (2009, p. 89)
defines this type of research as the “systematic study of analysing, designing and evaluating
educational interventions in order to solve complex educational problems for which no ready-
made solutions are available”. Our problem concerned the question how Design-based
learning could be integrated in music lessons. Therefore, in this research study, educational
workshops concerning designing and building new, technology-based musical instruments
were developed based on the principles of Design-based Learning, carried out in primary
education and evaluated in a systematic way. In general, educational design research consists
of the four research phases: ‘identification’, design, ‘testing’, and ‘evaluation’ (Heijnen,
2018). Each of these phases will be discussed separately in this article.
Research phase one: Identification
The first phase focuses on the identification of an educational problem in need of being solved.
In this research study, the problem of how Design-based Learning could be applied in music
lessons, as a means to developing 21st Century Skills, was central. Furthermore, the theoretical
background of Design-based Learning and its design cycle have been explored, as well as
different technologies that could be used to build musical instruments in primary education
(e.g. arduinos, conductive touch boards, Little Bits, Patchblocks, and Makey Makey). We
decided to work with Conductive Touch Boards (CTB), an easy-to-use microcontroller for
building digital devices, such as musical instruments, offering the ability to turn almost any
material or surface into a sensor (see figure 1).
Hogenes et al.
Figure 1: A conductive touch board.
Research phase two: Design
The second phase is concerned with the development of solutions for the educational
problem in the form of an educational intervention. In this research study, the educational
intervention was designed for “Arts Orientation”, a compulsory subject area in Dutch primary
education. Both cultural organizations, generalist teachers and specialist arts teacher
(including music teachers) are allowed to teach lessons within this subject area. Its overall goal
is to familiarize pupils with artistic and cultural aspects of their living environment and to learn
to express themselves through artistic means such as dance, theatre, visual arts, but also
music, which was the focus of our study.
The educational intervention we developed consisted of a series of four workshops of
45 minutes each, and was designed by a team of three researchers with music educational
backgrounds, an experienced workshop leader and two workshop assistants from the cultural
organization SoundLAB. The workshops were based on the different steps of Design-based
Learning as shown in figure 2: (1) Pupils explore and address a problem; (2) Pupils come up
with ideas to solve the problem; (3) Pupils elaborate on and select an idea; (4) Pupils make a
prototype of the idea; (5) Pupils test and optimize the design; and (6) Pupils present the
Journal of the European Teacher Education Network
Figure 2: Design cycle (Malmberg, Rohaan, Van Duijn, & Klapwijk, 2019, p. 164).
The educational intervention was set up in the following way: In the first workshop, a
soundless film fragment of a LEGO® film was introduced and the following question was asked:
“Can you improvise sounds/music on self-built, technology-based musical instruments to
accompany this film fragment?” To inspire pupils, the workshop leader showed, among
others, sound installations by Tinguely, a Theremin, and a water organ. Then, the pupils were
introduced to the CTB and how it works. After that, they formed groups of four and were
asked to come up with preliminary ideas for new, technology-based musical instruments.
Lastly, pupils were asked to bring materials that could be used to build musical instruments.
In workshop two, the groups of pupils came up with and selected ideas for musical
instruments. During the workshop, groups of three pupils were formed and each pupil within
the group would be assigned a different role: the designer who was responsible for the design
of the instrument, the sound technician who recorded the sounds, and the electro-technician
who built the instrument with CTBs. Each group was invited to make sketches of instruments
and to record sounds that could be edited and imported into the CTB. A small recording studio
was furnished, consisting of a computer, two studio microphones, two field recorders, and six
headphones. In the third workshop, pupils chose their final design and built their instruments.
They tested and optimized their designs. In workshop four, the groups presented their musical
Hogenes et al.
instruments to each other. Furthermore, the groups were asked to improvise sounds/music
to accompany the soundless film fragment.
Research phases three and four: Testing and evaluating
During these phases, the researchers test and evaluate the educational intervention in
practice. In this research study, the four workshops were tested and evaluated in two cycles
at two different schools. The participants who tested the workshops, the research methods
used to collect the data concerning the experience with the educational intervention, and the
data analysis and findings of the evaluation will be described in the following paragraphs.
The first test phase of the series of four workshops was conducted at a primary school in
Amsterdam, and the second at a primary school in Koog aan de Zaan, both in the Netherlands.
Both schools were chosen for their mixed population.
During the first test phase, four upper grade classes of primary education participated
in the workshops: grades 5/6 (ten boys, seven girls), on average 9,5 years old; grade 6, (twelve
boys, four girls), on average 10 years old; grade 7, (thirteen boys, eight girls), on average 11
years old; and grade 8, (six boys, eight girls), on average 12 years old.
During the second test phase, two upper grade classes of primary education
participated in the workshops: grade 6/7, (fifteen boys, eight girls), average age 11,5 years;
and grade 8, (seven boys, eleven girls) average age 12 years.
Both series of workshops were led by a workshop leader from SoundLAB with a
background in music technology, supported by a SoundLAB assistant. The workshop leader’s
role was to supervise the workshop through deepening the design process of the pupils by
offering new options for action. The assistant mainly focused on helping pupils record sounds
for the instruments. All classroom teachers (five female and one male) of the participating
grades took part in the research study by assisting the workshop leader and filling out a
questionnaire about the workshop. All participants actively consented in taking part in the
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Research methods
Both series of workshops were evaluated through multiple methods. First of all, structured
observations were used to evaluate the pupils’ and teachers’ experiences with Design-based
Learning. The observation form was based on the design cycle as shown in figure 2. For every
phase of the design cycle, there were three key questions: 1) What happens/ can be seen in
the groups of pupils? 2) What seems successful in the teaching and pupils’ learning process
within each phase of the design cycle? And 3) What seems challenging in the teaching and
pupils’ learning process within each phase of the design cycle? Two researchers executed the
Secondly, at the end of the last workshop of both workshop series, all the pupils filled
out a so-called learner report: an open self-evaluation method allowing learners to describe
what they learned or how they experienced the workshops (De Groot, 1980). In the learner
report, pupils could write down what they enjoyed or did not enjoy about the workshops, and
they were asked how they experienced the different phases of Design-based Learning and
what they had learned during the workshops.
Thirdly, at the end of the last session of each workshop series, the classroom teachers
were asked to fill out an open ended questionnaire, such as whether or not they were
acquainted with Design-based Learning, with science and technology, or music activities;
which challenges they perceived with regard to a Design-based-Learning approach to
designing, building, and performing with newly developed musical instruments; and what the
added value of Design-based Learning could be for their own teaching.
Data analysis
Regarding the observations, these were analyzed through a thematic-analysis approach
(Braun & Clarke, 2006). Within the process of coding, the following themes were chosen for
the analysis: 1) activities/actions performed by pupils (e.g. cooperation, problem solving,
creativity); 2) successful aspects during the different phases of the pupils’ design cycle; 3)
challenging aspects during the different phases of the pupils’ design cycle.
A thematic analysis was also applied to the learner reports and the questionnaires of
the classroom teachers. First of all, the following themes were chosen for the analysis of the
learner reports: 1) appreciation of the activities in the different phases of the design cycle; 2)
the cooperation with other pupils; 3) perceived learning outcomes.
Hogenes et al.
Lastly, for the open ended questionnaire the following themes were chosen for the
analysis: 1) prior experiences with Design-based Learning, science and technology, or music
activities; 2) perceived challenges with regard to a Design-based Learning approach; and 3)
the added value of a Design-based Learning approach.
All research methods were analyzed by two researchers on the basis of the
predescribed themes. After the process of coding, they discussed their analysis to achieve
interpretive convergence.
First test and evaluation cycle
Overall, the observations made clear that the pupils advanced through the different phases of
the design cycle to build a musical instrument in a motivated way. However, the observations
also revealed some challenges that surfaced during the four workshops. For instance, during
the first and second workshops it became clear that the problem “Can you improvise
sounds/music on self-built, technology-based musical instruments to accompany the film
fragment?”, did not appear to be meaningful enough to the pupils. Although the workshop
leader showed the soundless film fragment of the LEGO® film several times, the pupils seemed
to forget it and, hence, did not seem to relate the sounds they were looking for to that
particular film fragment.
Furthermore, observations during the second and third workshop showed pupils
actively working together in the process of building a musical instrument and recording
sounds. Yet, some pupils started building instruments without designing them first through
sketches, texts, or simple 3D models. These pupils immediately ran towards the table with
materials and tools, and started building an instrument through the process of trial and error.
To prevent this a next time, pupils in the other classes were explicitly asked to make sketches
of their designs first. Although more pupils started sketching a design, it became apparent
that the process of divergent thinking, in which multiple ideas and sketches can be generated,
required more attention.
Another striking observation during the second and third workshop concerned the
different social-cultural roles the pupils had to take on during the designing and building of
Journal of the European Teacher Education Network
the instrument: the designer (responsible for the design of the instrument), the sound
engineer (who records the sounds for the instrument), or the electro-technician (who builds
the instrument with CTBs). Although these roles seemed to be clearly distinctive to the
workshop leader, to the pupils they did not seem clear at all. The role of the sound engineer
was the clearest, but pupils seemed to have a hard time to distinguish being an electro-
technician and being a designer. These roles were seen as one by the pupils.
Observations in the final workshop made clear that pupils did spend time optimizing
their musical instruments (see figure two), but lacked the concentration to improvise
sounds/music to accompany the film fragment. Lastly, observations relating to the workshop
leader showed that his instructions were too extensive: shorter instructions directing pupils
to start working immediately seem important to increase task-oriented behavior of pupils.
Figure 2: Pupils optimizing their instruments
The learner reports made insightful that the pupils enjoyed building the musical instruments,
as well as recording sounds. However, it was difficult for the pupils to focus on solving the
presented problem of making an improvisation/composition they mainly focused on
building the new musical instruments. A pupil described: We made a pizza. If you touch it, it
will make a sound. We can build it with tinfoil.” Regarding their cooperation, some pupils
noted the confusion about the different roles. A pupil reported: “I enjoyed the workshop, but
I don’t understand what we sound engineers should do. I would rather build an instrument.”
Although most pupils noted they enjoyed the activities, they were unable to explain what they
learned from the workshops: they described their musical instruments and the activities they
performed, but seldom mentioned what they actually had learned. Or, as one pupil wrote
down:We had a good time, but we didn’t actually learn anything”.!
Hogenes et al.
The open-ended questionnaire showed the teachers hardly had any experience with Design-
based Learning, science and technology, or music activities. With regard to Design-based
Learning, one classroom teacher wrote down: “In my daily practice, I let children search for
information and let them do small experiments. However, I never ask them to solve problems
by asking them to make a design. It’s interesting to see that this is a possibility that offers
pupils to learn in a whole different way than they usually do.”
The challenges the teachers reported concerning the workshops mainly focused on
organizational aspects of the workshop, not as much on the content of the workshop. This
could possibly be due to their lack in experience with Design-based Learning, science and
technology, and musical activities. For instance, forming pupils into groups was mentioned as
a challenge. A teacher explained: “If I would give this workshop myself, I would only let pupils
work together whom I know are able to do so. If you don’t know the pupils you get to work
with, my advice would be to ask the classroom teacher to make groups.” The duration of
instruction moments was also mentioned by the teachers as challenging, or as teachers noted:
“Keep the instruction short and ‘to-the-point”, or “Too much information will distract pupils
from what you want to achieve. Be aware of a relatively short attention span of pupils.” Other
teachers mentioned the lack of time during the workshops. For some classes 45 minutes
matched the attention span of pupils and/ or time needed to finish the activity. Other classes
had to rush to finish their work, which, according to the teachers, was frustrating for the
Other organizational problems mentioned by the teachers, concerned the space and
the materials used during the workshops. For instance, the workshop leader had to move all
the materials from classroom to classroom, but some teachers reported it would have been
helpful if the workshops could have been given in the same classroom. This room could have
been furnished as a so-called makerspace (Schaareman, 2018). Makerspaces are collaborative
workspaces inside a school, library, or a public/private facility for making, learning, exploring,
and sharing, using high-tech to no-tech tools (Clapp, Ross, Ryan, & Tishman, 2017). As one of
the teachers described: “It’s a pity that the workshops could not be given in a special subject
classroom. The workshops offer a rich content. A makerspace, as a rich learning environment,
could reinforce the strength of the teaching approach, as well as the content of the workshop.”
Journal of the European Teacher Education Network
Although the classroom teachers reported collecting and recording sounds was an
interesting activity for pupils, they also noted the recording studio (consisting of a computer,
two studio microphones, two field recorders, and six headphones) was rather advanced for
this activity (see figure 3 for the sound studio). The classroom teachers appreciated the
recording studio but raised the question whether it was realistic to use this kind of equipment
in an educational project at primary schools. Teachers wondered whether there wasn’t more
simple and affordable equipment to be used for this purpose. A teacher asked: “It’s nice that
SoundLAB brought in professional recording equipment but would it also be possible to collect
sounds with mobile phones? Schools will never be able to afford such [professional] recording
Figure 3: The sound studio
Alterations of the workshops
Based on the observations, learner reports, and questionnaires of the first test and evaluation
phase, a number of changes regarding the content and organization of the workshops were
made. For instance, regarding the content of the workshops, we decided that a class with
hardly any experience in science and technology should be presented with a less complex
problem to solve, and the problem should be made more meaningful to the pupils. Therefore,
for the second test phase, we designed a new problem: in the first workshop the soundscape
‘Several Species of Small Furry Animals Gathered Together in a Cave’ by Pink Floyd would be
presented and the pupils would be asked: “How can you build a new musical instrument with
which to make a soundscape?”
Furthermore, the phase in Design-based Learning in which pupils come up with
multiple ideas to solve the problem and make sketches, texts, or simple 3D models of an
instrument prior to the actual building, would receive more attention: the pupils would
Hogenes et al.
explicitly be asked to come up with several ideas before building an instrument. Also, the
number of roles for the pupils was reduced from three to two: the sound technician and the
designer, the electro-technician being merged with the latter. For the recording of the sounds,
field recorders would be offered to the pupils, instead of studio equipment. We also decided
that the last workshop would be turned into a session on Creative Music Making. The pupils
would be introduced to all kinds of circle activities, improvisations, and sound experiments
meant to inspire them to create a soundscape.
Regarding the organization, changes were made too. For example, the amount of time
per workshop increased from 45 to 60 minutes per workshop. Furthermore, the workshops
would be given in one classroom, so the workshop leader would not have to move the
materials from one classroom to another. Lastly, specific attention would be given to the way
the workshop leader gave instructions: these would be kept brief, allowing for increased time-
on-task (Van Gog, 2013).
Second test and evaluation cycle
The second test phase took place at a primary school in Koog aan de Zaan, and the same
research methods were applied to gain insight in the educational intervention. Observations
showed that asking pupils how they could design instruments to compose a new soundscape,
seemed to offer both the pupils and the workshop leader more freedom than having to
compose a piece of music to match a specific film fragment.
Furthermore, observations made clear that the increased attention to coming up with
ideas and making and selecting sketches did not necessarily lead to more creative designs, but
in general did seem to lead to smoother design processes. For instance, pupils seemed to
encounter fewer problems building their instruments because they had a clearer idea of what
they wanted to build. Observations also showed that there seemed to be less confusion
regarding the roles of the pupils, as there were only two roles left: the sound technician and
the designer. The field recorders worked effectively for collecting sounds, and the creative-
music-making activities inspired pupils to make a soundscape that had some form or structure
instead of just random notes.
Finally, observations made insightful that the workshop leader had a better idea of the
designing and building process as a whole, which seemed to contribute to a smoother process
than in the first test phase. In this second cycle, he started structuring and deepening the ideas
Journal of the European Teacher Education Network
pupils came up with through asking them questions, and he could suggest adding new
elements to the design and building process. The brief instructions of the workshop leader
seemed to lead to a more task-oriented behavior of pupils, too.
The learner reports showed that designing and building musical instruments for the
purpose of making a soundscape was experienced as a meaningful activity, possibly because
it gave them more freedom to use their creativity. For instance, pupils wrote down: “We built
a great piano-flute. If you touch the buttons, it makes cool sounds that sound like cars and
motorbikes, and I liked building a hat that looks like a time machine. Touching the buttons
and wires produces awesome sounds”. The confusion noted during the first series of
workshops was absent, and pupils reported positively on their collaborations. As a pupil
noted: “Working in a small group challenged me to do the best I could to bring in some smart
ideas. Remarkably, similar to test phase one, most pupils reported they had enjoyed the
activities, but were unable to describe what they had learned: I enjoyed building an
instrument, but it’s difficult to tell what we have learned”.
Concerning the open-ended questionnaire, no specific feedback was given by the
teachers with regard to the content and organization of the workshops. However, as in test
phase one, the answers of questionnaire did show that the teachers had little experience with
Design-based Learning, science and technology, or musical activities.
Final alterations
Based on the outcomes of the observations, learner reports, and questionnaires, final
adjustments were made to optimize the workshops for future projects in primary education.
First of all, the learner reports from the first and second series of workshops showed
pupils had a hard time explicating what they had learned. Therefore, in the new series of
workshops, the previous implicit goals, such as pupils become aware of the design cycle” will
be made explicit, e.g. by clearly mentioning the phases of the design cycle during the
workshops. In this way, pupils might become more conscious that they are learning a way of
approaching a problem, next to learning about technology and music.
Secondly, more attention will be given to the role of the workshop leaders of
SoundLAB. During the second series of workshops, the workshop leader started structuring
and deepening the ideas of the pupils, suggesting them to add new elements to their design.
Hogenes et al.
Such teaching activities seemed to facilitate a smoother design process. Therefore, the new
design of the series of workshops will incorporate guidelines for a workshop leader on how to
supervise pupils during each phase of the design cycle.
Conclusion and discussion
The data of the study showed Design-based Learning could be a useful approach to structure
the pupils’ learning process in primary music education when designing and building new,
technology-based musical instruments. Under the guidance of a workshop leader, pupils were
able to move through the different phases of the design cycle and to develop their own
musical instruments within the time frame of four workshops. Moreover, the use of accessible
technology and simple field recorders provided pupils with the agency to make their own
choices regarding their musical instruments (Van Oers, 2018). As such, these workshops seem
a promising way for a form of STEAM-education in which music is central.
A Design-based Learning approach in music education also seems to hold the
possibility for the development of 21st Century Skills, including problem-solving, creative
thinking, and cooperation. For instance, during the design cycle pupils not only discussed
hypothetical solutions for a problem, but they also had to produce a concrete solution on the
intersection of science, technology, and music. This way of hands-on problem-solving
through producing and assessing, generating and judging products – can stimulate pupils to
make/think in and about the world, whilst working in an interdisciplinary environment and
incorporating different tools and technologies (Quigley & Herro, 2016). With regard to
creative thinking, the open-ended problem and the use of accessible technology fostered a
space for pupils to use their imagination and to build a whole array of different musical
instruments. Thus, what traditionally can be viewed as a musical instrument, could now be
expanded by pupils through the creation of their new instrument (Soltau, 2014). Lastly, the
different roles (the designer and sound engineer) in the groups of pupils complemented each
other, which allowed pupils to practice their cooperation skills through attuning to each other,
discussing, and deciding on design and sound choices.
The data, however, also illuminated challenges regarding the implementation of
Design-based Learning as a way of designing and building technology-based musical
instruments. Firstly, in order to make the approach successful, a workshop leader needs to
Journal of the European Teacher Education Network
have content knowledge of science, technology, and music, but also needs to know how to
teach the design cycle of Design-based Learning. For instance, the data exemplified that some
pupils suffer from design fixation: they were unable to consider multiple solutions to a
problem and got stuck on one idea that was not necessarily interesting. As divergent thinking
is an important skill in the first phase of the design cycle (Malmberg, Rohaan, Van Duijn &
Klapwijk, 2019), a workshop leader needs to have the skills to help pupils move beyond this
fixation, e.g. by asking pupils to think up new ideas that are the opposite of their current idea
(Sawyer, 2018). These skills need specific attention before these kinds of workshops are given.
Secondly, to make real use of the musical instruments, the making of music or
soundscapes should receive more attention. Although adding the creative-music-making
activities during the workshops helped pupils to make their own music or soundscape, a
possibility would be to add a second design cycle after the instruments are built to make a
composition or soundscape.
Thirdly, to allow for the pupils’ experiences with the design cycle to become applicable
to other subjects or to real-world problems, they need to have an understanding of the design
cycle’s different phases. In our study, the design cycle was more of a tool for the workshop
leader than for the pupils: they followed his instructions in the design process and little time
was spent on reflecting on the different design cycle phases. Thus, the pupils neither became
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in this empirical study, the one-day project Robot Love Design-a-thon was designed for an interdisciplinary group of preservice teachers (in arts, sciences, and primary education), and evaluated through observations and learner reports. An analysis of the observations and the learner reports showed that having to go through a complete design process in a single day worked well: it facilitated the exchange of ideas and critical discussions between students concerning the project’s socially engaged theme ‘Tenderness and Technology’. In addition, interdisciplinary collaboration emerged as an important learning outcome. All students found working in mixed teams a relevant and educational experience as they could profit from each other’s expertise.
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Voor aankomende leraren is het belangrijk om vakoverstijgend onderwijs te kunnen verzorgen waarin leerlingen, naast vakinhouden, ook vakoverstijgende vaardigheden opdoen zoals creatief-, kritisch-en probleemoplossend vermogen. Daartoe dienen student-leraren ook zelf ervaring op te doen met vakkenintegratie. In deze bijdrage worden het proces en de leeropbrengsten van een zogenaamde designathon beschreven. Hierin worden aspecten van kunst en bètavakken geïntegreerd rond een centrale ontwerpwerpvraag, waarmee gemengde teams van student-leraren met verschillende achtergronden (kunst, pabo en bèta) aan de slag zijn gegaan. In een kleinschalig onder-zoek is door middel van observaties en het inzetten van learner reports gekeken naar het proces van de designathon, de rol van de begeleiders en de leeropbrengsten. Het blijkt dat vooral het aspect van de 'pressurecooker' (in korte tijd een volledig ontwerpproces doorlopen) goed werkte: het daagde uit tot uitwisseling van ideeën en geëngageerde discussies. Uit observaties blijkt dat een combinatie van procesmatige en inhoudelijke begeleiding het meest effectief was. De meeste gerapporteerde leerervaringen waren gerelateerd aan het opdoen van ervaring met het samenwerken met studenten uit andere disciplines en met de inhoud en didactiek van de designathon.
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In response to a desire to strengthen the economy, educational settings are emphasizing science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) curriculum and programs. Yet, because of the narrow approach to STEM, educational leaders continue to call for a more balanced approach to teaching and learning, which includes the arts, design, and humanities. This desire created space for science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics (STEAM) education, a transdisciplinary approach that focuses on problem-solving. STEAM-based curricula and STEAM-themed schools are appearing all over the globe. This growing national and global attention to STEAM provides an opportunity for teacher education to explore the ways in which teachers implement STEAM practices, examining the successes and challenges, and how teachers are beginning to make sense of this innovative teaching practice. The purpose of this paper is to examine the implementation of STEAM teaching practices in science and math middle school classrooms, in hopes to provide research-based evidence on this emerging topic to guide teacher educators.
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There is growing interest amongst forward looking public officials, educators, and professionals in enhancing the education platform to better prepare students for both analytical and creative thinking. Traditional STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) degrees focus on convergent skills whereas art degrees focus on divergent skills. Having the ability to execute both at scale can better position our nation for global competitiveness. A study by the Partnership for a New American Economy, called “Not Coming to America,” demonstrates the lacking interest of STEM in undergraduates throughout American born citizens. With a STEM job market increasing three times faster than the rest of the economy, and only 4.4% of American undergraduates enrolled in STEM programs, there is a huge shortage of qualified high-tech workers. Education must foster not only problem solving skills but also problem seeking skills all while maintaining the interest of the students. The author, an art educator with STEM interest, will summarize the major initiative in STEM, rationalize the value of arts integration, discuss objective driven assessment, evaluate literacy opportunities, provide examples of taking theory to practice, and challenge the audience to go full “STEAM” ahead.
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Het nieuwe gevleugelde woord in het onderwijs is: ‘21st century skills’. Onderwijs moet leerlingen de kennis en vaardigheden bijbrengen die nodig zijn om in de 21ste eeuw mee te doen en zich te ontplooien tot autonome deelnemers aan een toekomstige samenleving. In de uitleg van wat die ‘skills’ inhouden, zien we onder andere probleemoplossend vermogen, samenwerken en kritisch denken prominent naar voren komen. Gelukkig is er in het onderwijs al heel wat gaande op dat gebied. Samen problemen oplossen in het kader van projecten is al vrij gebruikelijk in het onderwijs vanaf de basisschool. Er is ook al ondersteunend leermateriaal beschikbaar in de vorm van leskisten voor bijvoorbeeld techniek of natuuronderwijs. Voorzichtig worden hier en daar ook al wat pogingen gewaagd tot probleemgericht onderwijs in zaakvakken als geschiedenis en aardrijkskunde. De eerste stappen naar een brede inzet van onderzoekend leren in primair en secundair onderwijs zijn gezet. Hoe nu verder? Onderzoekend leren is een vorm van kennis- en vaardighedenverwerving door (gezamenlijk) betekenisvolle problemen op te lossen en de kennis en vaardigheden die daarvoor nodig zijn te ontdekken. We kunnen daarbij verschillende dimensies onderscheiden, zoals probleemformulering, gebruik maken van relevante hulpbronnen in jezelf of in de omgeving, en discussie met elkaar om de waarde van de voorgestelde oplossingen of oplossingstappen te beoordelen. Voor een efficiënte invulling van elk van deze dimensies zijn meerwetende partners nodig, in de meeste gevallen zal de leerkracht er daar een van zijn. Juist de leerkracht kan (mee) beoordelen of de gestelde problemen met het oog op de onderwijsdoelen relevant zijn, kan als een belangrijke hulpbron dienen, of kan het proces in de discussies mee sturen en productief maken, en door haar of zijn deelname kritisch en creatief denken uitlokken. Het is daarom van belang om meer kennis te hebben over de gedragingen van leerkrachten bij het onderzoekend leren en in kaart te brengen welke daarvan door onderzoek (empirische evidentie) als effectief beoordeeld worden. Die laatste vragen hebben wij (Marjolein Dobber, Marijn Tanis, Rosanne Zwart en Bert van Oers) in een door PROO gefinancierde reviewstudie proberen te beantwoorden door al het onderzoek op dit terrein in het afgelopen decennium kritisch tegen het licht te houden en te beoordelen*. De bevindingen uit deze studie hebben we tenslotte vertaald naar ideeën voor de praktijk, waar voorliggende praktijkbrochure een neerslag van is.
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Domeinbeschrijving voor wetenschap en techniek in het basisonderwijs.
Musical settings that require consumers to construct their own musical instruments serve as potential sites of reconnection between musicians, the musical instruments they make, the natural resources that comprise those instruments, and the labor required to produce them. When musicians reconnect in these ways, they are able to understand and appreciate their musical instruments in new and meaningful ways. This can allow for heightened efforts in instrument care and maintenance; it can also allow for a greater sensitivity to environmental and ethical issues surrounding musical instruments. Data are drawn from a collegiate-level academic percussion musical setting where the musicians composed for and performed on the instruments they made themselves from mostly recycled materials. Group and individual semi-structured interviews and participant observation conducted over the course of summer and fall 2014 reveal the ways these reconnections are possible. This paper is in response to Matsunobu’s (2013) call to further establish instrument craft as an area within music education curricula.
This paper describes the studio model—a cultural model of teaching and learning found in U.S. professional schools of art and design. The studio model includes the pedagogical beliefs held by professors, and the pedagogical practices they use, to guide students in learning how to create. This cultural model emerged from an ethnographic study of two professional schools of art and design. Thirty eight professors, from a total of fifteen art disciplines and design disciplines, were interviewed and their studio classes were observed. A grounded theory analysis was used to allow the studio model to emerge from audio recordings of interviews and video recordings of studio classes. The model was then validated by 16 different professors at six additional art and design schools. The studio model was found to be general across art and design disciplines and at all eight institutions. The central concept of the studio model is the creative process, with three clusters of emergent themes: learning outcomes associated with the creative process, project assignments that scaffold mastery of the creative process, and classroom practices that guide students through the creative process.
This article questions if engaging with concepts from science and expressing them through visual artisitic forms enhances learning about the self and the world. A small selection of visual art students ranging from 15-17 years old from local schools in regional Australia explore a scientific inquiry question through their artmaking.