Post-Grant Reports


Updating the Aural Skills Curriculum: Cooperative & Peer Learning and Reflective Writing

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Music Education | Music Pedagogy


Student-centered instructional approaches that directly engage the learner in problem-solving activities and emphasize social interaction in the construction of knowledge are known to be much more effective than traditional teaching methods. While music educators also claim to espouse these views, these strategies have yet to infiltrate the area of aural skills pedagogy, where the mode of instruction often remains limited to traditional repetition and drill. In an effort to update and improve the Ear Training and Sight Singing (ETSS) curriculum at Linfield, cooperative and peer-learning activities and reflective writing were heavily integrated into the course for the 2012-2013 academic year. This study examined the efficacy of these new approaches by comparing students’ experiences, progress, and assessments to those of previous years. Though a comparison of final exam scores did not reveal a statistically significant difference in achievement, results suggest reflective writing was particularly effective for students in increasing self-awareness, organizing and reinforcing learning, increasing retention of course material, and providing opportunities for self-assessment. Data revealed a mixed effectiveness for cooperative and peer-learning activities that is often dependent on a variety of factors including the type of activity or assignment, the level of ability and focus of each partner, and personal preference for working alone or with others. Benefits include increased accountability, motivation and practice, while challenges include coordinating schedules outside of class.


This research was conducted as part of a Linfield College Student-Faculty Collaborative Research Grant in 2013, funded by the Office of Academic Affairs.

Student collaborators were Yucheng Zhang and Jenny Morgan.

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