Date of Award

1-14-2009

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Music

First Advisor

David E. Myers, Ph.D. - Co-Chair

Second Advisor

Dana L. Fox, Ph.D. - Co-Chair

Third Advisor

Marilyn Seelman, D.M.A.

Fourth Advisor

Carolyn Furlow, Ph.D

Fifth Advisor

Phillip Gagne, Ph.D.

Sixth Advisor

Patrick K. Freer, Ed.D.

Abstract

This study investigated whether and in what ways a learner-centered instrumental music education classroom environment may nurture musical growth and independence. The mixed-methods design incorporated quantitative and qualitative measures to compare performance outcomes, musical growth, and learner and teacher dispositions in learner-centered and teacher-centered middle school orchestra classrooms. Quantitative measures included a Performance Assessment Instrument and a researcher-designed survey of student perceptions and attitudes. Qualitative measures included classroom observation, student and teacher interviews, and teacher journal entries. Research participants were four teachers, two of whom taught using a teacher-centered approach, and two of whom were oriented to learner-centered classroom strategies through a professional development program taught by the researcher. The teachers implemented learner-centered or teacher-centered environments in four intact classrooms that included 155 student participants. Learner-centered methods were based on democratic (Dewey, 1938; Woodford, 2005) and constructivist (Vygotsky, 1978; Wiggins, 2001) principles as well as research and pedagogical literature detailing the characteristics of learner-centered classrooms (McCombs & Whisler, 1997; Schuh, 2004). These included peer tutoring and collaboration; student conducting, solicitation and incorporation of student input; and facilitation of student leadership. I found no differences in music performance outcomes between learner-centered and teacher-centered ensembles. However, learner-centered students exhibited increased musical growth and greater musical independence as compared with students in the teacher-centered environment, and indicated higher perceptions than teacher-centered students of choice and leadership opportunities in their classrooms. Learner-centered teachers reported increased engagement and leadership skills from their students. Results of this study indicate that music ensemble teachers can incorporate a learner-center classroom environment that engages students musically, promotes independence and leadership, and involves students in higher order thinking while attaining performance standards at or above those expected of middle-school orchestra students.

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Music Commons

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