The effects of peer-assisted learning on rhythmic and melodic sight-reading in a middle school chorus
Graham, Marie Frances
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In this research, I investigated the ways that children engaged in collaborative processes with adults and their peers and music sight-reading skill acquisition. Using a quasi-experimental pretest/posttest non-equivalent control group design, I assessed melodic and rhythmic sight-reading among intact groups of sixth-, seventh-, and eighth-grade choruses at a North Carolina middle school. The purpose of the study was to compare the effectiveness of a teacher-only and two types of peer-assisted learning models on rhythmic and melodic sight-reading in middle school choral students. The instruments I used to evaluate melodic and rhythmic sight-reading included an adapted version of the Vocal Sight-Reading Inventory and a researcher-developed Rhythmic Skills Hierarchy. Composite scores were analyzed using analyses of covariance to compare differences between groups on adjusted posttest scores and to examine the potential benefits of peer-assisted learning (PAL) treatment types. There were significant differences between the teacher-only (T-O) and the symmetrical peer-assisted learning (SPAL) groups when compared to the asymmetrical peer-assisted learning group (APAL). The T-O and SPAL treatment types were both effective learning models for melodic sight-reading achievement but with nonsignificant results on rhythmic sight-reading. Collaborative learning models are not new in the field of education; however, in the field of music education, traditional teacher-directed instruction is predominant. I conclude that teacher modeling encourages the internal music representations necessary for sight-reading in choral students. Also, symmetrical peer-assisted learning strategies improve melodic sight-reading skills and are a suggested practice as a complement to teacher-directed instruction. Furthermore, symmetrical peer-assisted learning is effective in supporting melodic sight-reading. This study contributes to the body of research in music education, rhythmic and melodic sight-reading, and peer-assisted learning strategies in a chorus.