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Achieving Harmony: Tuning into Practice
Wednesday, June 17 • 11:15am - 11:45am
CON01.04 - Play it: Impacts of experiential learning and authentic assessment in undergraduate music theory

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This presentation describes an innovative redesign of undergraduate music theory curricula, which traditionally rely on written exercises for assessment, to feature hands-on music making at the piano as a central component of the instructional design (implemented following Wiggins and McTighe 1998). Using technology, students learn experientially (following Kolb 1984) and aurally through activities that apply their theoretical understanding to creative tasks at the highest levels of Bloom's taxonomy (Anderson and Krathwohl 2001), such as improvisation and composition. Quantitative and qualitative results from an impact study completed in fall 2013 are shared, which show not only a marked impact on how (and how well) students learned music theory, but also a dramatic expansion of what (i.e., which skills) they acquired in the course and a positive shift in their attitudes about the value and relevance of music theory. Broadly speaking, this curricular innovation produced far more significant learning results (in the sense of Fink 2013). This study responds to an ongoing dissonance between the applied, artistic matters of musical performance and the academic, systematic tasks of music theory. By learning about this pedagogical intervention and its documented results and engaging in a dialogue about them, participants will be able to articulate the value of creative activities and applied, authentic assessment to the teaching and learning of highly technical and systematic concepts. Though focused on disciplinary teaching within music theory, the presentation emphasizes findings that can be applied just as well in other pedagogical fields.

Anderson, L. W., & Krathwohl, D. R. (Eds.). (2001). A taxonomy for learning, teaching and assessing: A revision of Bloom's taxonomy of educational objectives. New York, NY: Longman.

Kolb. D. (1984). Experiential learning: Experience as the source of learning and development. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.

Fink, L. D. (2013). Creating significant learning experiences: An integrated approach to designing college courses. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Wiggins, G. & McTighe, J. (1998). Understanding by design. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.


Wednesday June 17, 2015 11:15am - 11:45am
Chairman Room

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