Date of Award

Spring 5-17-2019

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Middle and Secondary Education

First Advisor

Patrick K. Freer

Second Advisor

Peggy Albers

Third Advisor

Martin Norgaard

Fourth Advisor

Jennifer Esposito


Collaboration in elementary music instruction has been incorporated frequently in creative activities. With the increase of technology integration, researchers have investigated its use as a mediation tool in creative activities. The nature of how children are grouped remains in contention. There is a need for comparing students’ perceptions in group work based on their group selection. The purpose of this mixed methods study was to examine the effect of group assignment on upper elementary students’ experiences in a technology-mediated collaborative compositional activity. Research questions included: (a) How do upper elementary students perceive collaboration in a group-based, technology-mediated music composition activity? (b) Is there a significant difference in students’ perceptions of collaboration based on their group assignment, as measured by the Collaborative Composition Through Technology Assessment (CCTTA)? (c) Based on group assignment, are there differences in the nature of students’ interactions in collaboration? and (d) How does group assignment influence the quality of students’ compositional products? Data consisted of a researcher-adapted questionnaire consisting of Likert type items and open-ended questions pertaining to perceptions of working collaboratively, video observations, interviews, and a final product score. Fourth grade students (N = 40) from two, intact classes were formed into student-selected (SSG) and researcher-selected (RSG) groups. Groups participated in a 60-minute, open-ended compositional activity using GarageBand as the mediation tool. While participants viewed collaboration and technology positively, quantitative results yielded no significant differences between groups in students’ perceptions. Similarly, there was no significant difference between groups in the quality of compositional products. Participants in SSG preferred working collaboratively over their RSG counterparts, which was a statistically significant finding. Qualitative findings revealed that both group sets employed a democratic approach to decision making. Both group sets reported having disagreements between members. Findings indicated that the SSG overcame differences through a shared understanding of their existing knowledge while the RSG reported frustrations in unequal role assignments, hindering the integration of individual ideas. The importance of exploratory processes in the activity indicated that the SSG employed purposeful planning of the final product, while the RSG used more random exploration.