Social constructionism in the middle school chorus: a collaborative approach
Debrot, Ruth Ann
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Middle school programs occupy a unique place in choral music education. This study builds upon and makes a unique contribution to the body of literature in choral music education by introducing critical participatory action research into the social ecology (Shotter, 1993) of the middle school choral classroom during the “regular” school day with a non-select choral ensemble. I employed critical participatory action research methodology—a collaborative approach to understanding specific problems in education—because it is a systematic research process conducted for the purpose of generating knowledge that is valid and vital for the well being of learners, communities of learners, and for promoting social change (Carr & Kemmis, 1986; Herr & Anderson, 2005; Kemmis and McTaggart, 1987; Mills, 2010). The purpose of this critical participatory action research study was to create a collaborative model of practice in order to make sixth grade choral music education more relevant and meaningful for learners. In order to accomplish this, I created a constructionist learning environment, applying domains of relevance set forth by Gergen (2001), and examined how this model of practice impacted the pedagogical practices of 19 sixth grade chorus students and their chorus teacher over the period of one semester. All participants collected evidence in the form of video recordings, interviews, journals and portfolios. All evidence was considered in light of the changes that occurred—individually and collectively—in pedagogical and organizational practices and in regard to the original research questions. This report illuminates ways that constructionist principles might be used to create a collaborative model of middle school choral music education and the pedagogical and social practices that emerge when beginning sixth grade students and their chorus teacher share responsibility for teaching and learning.