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Curricular approach to professional elementary music education design


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Matoš, Nikolina. (2018). Curricular approach to professional elementary music education design. PhD Thesis. Filozofski fakultet u Zagrebu, Department of Pedagogy.
(Poslijediplomski doktorski studij pedagogije) [mentor Dobrota, Snježana].

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The world of education has been overwhelmed with curriculum literature for several decades – numerous books, monographs, professional and scientific journals have been published. Over time, the curriculum approach has expanded from America to European countries where traditionally a different philosophy of education has prevailed. After many years of educational policy endeavors, curriculum aproach appeared as an idea in Croatian educational system. The principles of curriculum were steadily implemented in the teaching and learning process of all school subjects, including music in general education, at primary and secondary level (elementary school, gymnasium and certain vocational schools). During the curricular reform process, in the first decade of the 21st century, the goals and objectives of teaching and learning music have been redefined. Teaching contents were updated and emphasis was placed on aesthetic education of students. In addition to learning music in general education, Croatia has a longlasting tradition of professional – formal and institutional – music education system, that is being realized in music schools as specialized institutions. Musical activities at the national, regional and even local level were considerably developed at the beginning of the 19th century, and thereafter, there was a need for the establishment of music schools that would systematically and continuously prepare musicians, conductors and artistic leaders of Croatian orchestras, choirs and folklore associations. At the beginning of the 21st century, the number of music schools in Croatia is constantly increasing, so nowadays we have almost ninety schools as independent music education institutions. Certain institutions have only primary school programs, while others offer programs in the entire educational continuum. Some of the music schools at secondary level provide comprehensive education with musical and general (other) subjects/contents. Formal (professional) music education in Croatia is available to a large number of participants, which can be concluded by the following data: (1) there is at least one music school in each Croatian county; (2) music education is mainly funded from the state budget; 3) despite the implementation of entrance exams, it is relatively easy to enroll in music school. However, the system of music education in Croatia has not been systematically analyzed so far, which can be stated for the system as a whole and also its segments. It is necessary to thoroughly analyze the current theory and practice of teaching and learning music in the context of formal, institutional and professional music education system, by detecting the existing advantages and disadvantages, highlighting the necessary organizational and content changes, and achieving a national consensus about the purpose of music schools in Croatian educational system. Current problems can be summarized in several key points: 1. Vocal, instrumental and music theory pedagogy, as subdisciplines of formal music education, did not reach the scientific status in Croatia; 2. The institutional music education in Croatia has not been the subject of systematic analysis; 3. Existing syllabi for music school subjects reflect upon closed (traditional) curriculum philosophy and focus solely on the training of professional musicians as products (curriculum ideology oriented towards social efficiency); 4. There is no consensus, or a single strategy, about the use of ear training (solfége) system in Croatia, that would be uniformly applied in all music schools at the national level. There are numerous dilemmas and doubts regarding this field, due to the lack of empirically verified results in practice. Previous research has been carried out from the perspective of the psychology of music and/or neurocognitive science. What is missing is the curriculum approach to the problem of learning the language (and structure) of music, where the effectiveness of different ear training systems would be compared by the pre-established criteria (curriculum standards). If we clearly define our goals as input, and measure the learning outcomes (results) as output, it will lead us toward answering a question asked long time ago: Is there a need for a national consensus about using a single ear training system? – or – Will the choice of optimal system remain arbitrary, in accordance with the principles of open curriculum philosophy? The absence of curriculum approach to the formal music education system in Croatia, and the observed shortcomings and inconsistencies of current theory and practice, have both resulted in the need of identifying, analyzing and researching all of the curricular reform processes, namely: situation analysis and needs assessment related to the analysis of current conditions, highlighting problems, defining priorities and projecting of desired future for music education in Croatia; curriculum design, development and experimental implementation in ear training classes; curriculum evaluation by observing the process of teaching and learning, and testing the learning outcomes (results). Consequently, the research design has the following structure: a) Situation analysis and needs assessment are encompassed by analyzing the existing curricula (the first part of the research), and examining the attitudes of music school teachers and music academy students toward a formal music education in Croatia (the second part of the research). The participants defined the key features of the music education system at the elementary level, identified problems within the system and offered suggestions for its improvement; b) Curriculum design, development, implementation and evaluation are encompassed by a two-group experimental design which is realized in ear training classes at beginner level (the third part of the research). Conducting an experiment, we observed the teaching and learning process of ear training, using two different systems: relative (movable do) and absolute (fixed do). According to the test results, we compared the effectiveness of these systems, while equal emphasis was placed on the teaching and learning process, and the learning outcomes. Theoretical framework of this paper presents the system of professional music education at elementary level, and its analysis from a curricular perspective. Such an analysis was made by interpreting curriculum key concepts, theories and ideologies in the context of music education. We compared music education in Croatia and other European countries, and we also reviewed current music schools curricula. Our comprehensive analysis resulted in the definition of the role and the purpose of elementary music schools in music learning continuum, and the identification of prevailing curriculum philosophies, types and levels. The National curriculum framework for music education should represent the fundamental framework for professional teaching and learning music in Croatia, which is taking place in music schools as independent educational institutions, and also in some other educational contexts (e. g. music departments in general schools). Construction of that kind of a framework requires joint meetings of a large number of music education experts. Consequently, we did not offer a complete prototype of curriculum framework in this paper, but we proposed the structure of the curriculum and we also provided some guidelines for its implementation. Within the National curriculum framework for music education, it is necessary to define: ­ the purpose, the values, and the aims, goals and principles of formal music education; ­ the structure of the curriculum, encompassing core curriculum, differentiated curricula, and music school curricula; ­ the organization of teaching and learning process; ­ musical (and other artistic) programs and contents; ­ national standards for music education; ­ learning outcomes for every educational level. The final draft of the National curriculum framework for music education in Croatia should be the result of a consensus on: - compulsory and optional school subjects and learning contents; - the ratio between music theory and music performance activities; - number of instructional days/hours and school year requirements; - structure of student groups and different forms of teaching and learning music; - materials and sources for teaching and learning (including ICT); - ways of student/curriculum evaluation and quality control. The National curriculum framework for music education should be aligned with other relevant educational policy documents, although the framework itself, upon its publication, may affect their redefinition and modification. In addition to fostering the existing tradition of music education in Croatia, the international standards, requirements and guidelines for music education should be respected, as well as important international declarations and conventions, relevant (and recent) research dana, and examples of good practice. Empirical research consisted of three parts. In the first part of the research, we conducted a comprehensive analysis of Croatian music education curricula. In the second part of the research, we gathered data through a questionnaire. Music school teachers and music academy students, as participants, shared their views and attitudes toward some of the key features of the music education system in Croatia at the elementary school level. In the third part of the research, we conducted a quasi-experimental procedure with two parallel groups of first-grade elementary music school students. The aim of the research was to compare the educational effects of different ear training systems (relative/movable and absolute/fixed system). We analyzed and compared the impact of different systems on the teaching and learning process, as well as the learning outcomes. Data from the first part of empirical research indicated that formal music-schoolcurricula in Croatia is based on principles of closed and prescriptive curriculum, and therefore, needs to be rewritten. Data from the second part of the research have provided relevant information about teachers and students attitudes, related to conceptual, contextual and organizational aspects of the music education system in Croatia at elementary level, such as: enrollment conditions, learning schedule, organization of teaching and learning process, status of some subjects, correlation between subjects, student achievement, etc. The research results show that there is no statistically significant difference between the attitudes of the participants with regard to gender, whereas there is a statistically significant difference with respect to the following groups: (1) teachers of music theory disciplines, (2) teachers of various music instruments and singing, (3) music academy students. The results of the third part of the research indicate that there is no statistically significant difference in the results between the two groups of elementary music school students, which makes it possible to conclude that the different ear training systems (relative or absolute) equally contribute to the achievement of educational outcomes in the following categories: music dictation, sight-singing, learning musical patterns and concepts, reading and understanding musical (standard) notation, creating associations between sounds, syllables and notation symbols, music theory knowledge and correlation with music performance. The empirical research had some limitations – the questionnaire did not cover all relevant subgroups of the participants, and the (quasi)experimental procedure took place in almost ideal conditions, that can be very difficult to achieve in real educational settings. However, the results of the research have greatly contributed to the cognizance of all the aspects of elementary music education, regarding the system as a whole (first part of the research), and learning music as a special language (second part of the research). The results will be applicable in further research (scientific contribution) as well as in the educational process (practical contribution).

Item Type: PhD Thesis
Uncontrolled Keywords: curriculum design; curriculum approach; curricular reform; curriculum standards; formal/professional music education system; elementary music school; ear training (solfège); ear training systems
Subjects: Pedagogy
Departments: Department of Pedagogy
Supervisor: Dobrota, Snježana
Additional Information: Poslijediplomski doktorski studij pedagogije
Date Deposited: 09 Jan 2019 12:31
Last Modified: 09 Jan 2019 12:31

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