Applying a constructivist approach to the assessment of compositions in a secondary technology-based music classroom
Haynor, Matthew Ives
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The purpose of this case study was to explore the perspectives and reflections of students and an educator who engaged in the assessment techniques of versioning and critique in a high school classroom employing Technology-Based Music Instruction (TBMI). The use of versioning (whereby students saved projects daily with a different file name), and critique was supported by and chosen based on a constructivist perspective of learning and assessment (Fosnot, 2005; Jonassen, 1992; Scott, 2012). I sought to document what students expressed about their experiences with versioning and critique in a TBMI classroom in relation to their learning process. I also explored the ways students constructed meaning and understanding through the process of reflection and discourse while using versioning and critique in a TBMI setting, as well as the ways their experiences with versioning and critique influenced their views of growth and self-expression. I presented one educator’s impressions regarding how the use of versioning and critique influenced his view of assessment in a TBMI setting. Study participants included a teacher and four students engaged in composition as part of an Introduction to Music Technology class at a private high school. Over a three-month period, I conducted three observations and two interviews with each study participant. Data included transcriptions of interviews, student journals, videos of the classroom, and fieldnotes. For data analysis, I employed an iterative coding process, which included a deductive and inductive application of codes. Data were then sorted thematically and summarized. Analysis revealed that the educator and students found both versioning and critique to be helpful and valuable in a number of ways. The students and teacher reported that versioning provided information about each student’s individual productivity level and unique compositional process. Students found that sharing their music and providing feedback with their peers through the critique process enabled them to interact with a community of musicians who had varying musical tastes and backgrounds. Future research could expand on this study by implementing daily student reflections and replicating aspects of this study in other classroom settings.