Student to student: reciprocal peer mentoring in a post-secondary piano lab
Foster, Linda Porter
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In this study I used ethnographic techniques to examine reciprocal peer mentoring in a post-secondary piano course and to explore the influence of reciprocal peer mentoring on the learning environment, the sharing of knowledge and skills, and the perspective of the participants regarding the process of peer mentoring and social interaction. Findings included successful outcomes for learners in terms of understandings, skills, and dispositions in association with student affmity for the process. Participants preferred interactive learning, experienced an enhanced level of comfort as a result of the ongoing social interaction and peer validation, and found both dispositional and educational value in learning as part of a supportive community of learners. Themes included the effectiveness of peer communication; the value of exposure to multiple perspectives; the enhanced level of comprehension acquired through constructing knowledge with others; and the motivational and self-management benefits of monitoring personal learning through peer interaction. Reciprocal peer mentoring was observed to be efficient and effective; participants held a negative view of both traditional instruction and group learning that lacked shared authority and ongoing dialogue among knowledgeable peers. Participants expressed congruent perceptions regarding the effect of peer mentoring on social interaction. Themes included interdependent relationships and social bonding, enhanced efficacy, successful mentoring without training, and personal satisfaction in helping others. The positive academic, technical, and social results for students in this study speak to the self-actualizing power of constructivist and holistic ideals and may contradict two of the prevailing paradigms in the literature on peer mentoring in music education settings: teacher determination of a fixed role for each student for the duration of the process and the necessity of extensive mentor training. The results may have implications for the practice of music educators both in terms of the hierarchical power structure of traditional music instruction and the holistic development of student potential. These findings encourage the use of reciprocal peer mentoring within the discipline of music education, conceivably extending the observed benefits of this learning paradigm to a greater number of student musicians and contributing to the holistic development of student potential within the field.
Thesis (D.M.A.)--Boston University