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Wednesday, June 18 • 11:00am - 12:30pm
PSD.28 – Transforming Passive Students into Engaged Learners

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In most undergraduate music programs at North American colleges and universities, music majors are required to complete a core grouping of music theory courses to satisfy degree requirements.  The intent of these courses is to provide foundational training in analytical, compositional and aural skill.  To succeed, students must retain and build upon knowledge from one course to the next.  Consequently, the need for student motivation and engagement with learning is high.

Instruction in the music theory core typically relies on lecture-style delivery of information supplemented by problem-solving assignments.  In the classroom, an instructor assumes the role of expert imparting information to students, who are passive recipients of knowledge.  Teaching materials published for these courses support this conventional model of instruction.  They usually consist of a textbook that transmits knowledge and one or more accompanying workbooks that provide exercises for students to practice application of concepts explained in the textbook.  Despite ongoing improvements to supporting texts that take advantage of technological innovation, instructors still struggle with student engagement in music theory core courses.  This may come as no surprise to researchers in the field of teaching and learning, whose scholarship documents that such a conventional method of instruction does not engage students in meaningful learning.

Drawing on the scholarship of teaching and learning and reflecting the STLHE conference theme, this presentation reports on a attempt to transform passive students into engaged learners in a second-year core music theory course through integration of several educational best practices including writing-to-learn activities, peer review and reflection into a high-impact collaborative project that treats students as budding professionals in the field.  It presents encouraging results of a secondary study of student reflections documenting the perceived value of the project from their perspective.  The presentation offers compelling evidence of student engagement in subject learning, meta-learning, and knowledge transfer.  It seeks feedback from educators interested in high-impact best practices that transform learning experiences.


Wednesday June 18, 2014 11:00am - 12:30pm EDT
A234 McArthur Hall

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