Codarts University of the Arts (NETHERLANDS)
About this paper:
Appears in: EDULEARN16 Proceedings
Publication year: 2016
Pages: 170-172
ISBN: 978-84-608-8860-4
ISSN: 2340-1117
doi: 10.21125/edulearn.2016.1029
Conference name: 8th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 4-6 July, 2016
Location: Barcelona, Spain
Learning music as a subject proves to be a point of contention for students of the Primary Education BA program in the Netherlands. Two firmly rooted cultural dispositions are at play here. First, arts education holds a marginalized position in the curriculum of education in general (Schildt-Mol, 2011), but particularly in this BA program, with a mere 20 hours per year. Second, as a result of this marginalized position, students face musical activities in a traditional classroom setting with stage freight and insecurities.

To combat the second disposition, blended learning could offer valuable insights and solutions. Blended learning is often defined as the integration of digital tools with face-to-face education (Garrison and Kanuka 2004; Graham 2004; Macdonald 2008; Oliver and Trigwell 2005; Poon 2013). In other words, blended learning merges online approaches with classroom activities, catering to various learning strategies of students. In the context of this study, students have the chance to immerse themselves in musical learning within online communities and the classroom, rather than only learning within the traditional classroom setting.

Drawing on this theory, the research group of Codarts University of the Arts undertakes innovative work to research the ways in which digital tools can improve musical skills of Primary Education BA students. In collaboration with Leiden University we build a digital safe space for students to develop musical skills at their own pace through the medium of peer feedback. To determine whether the feedback website rendered a positive effect on musical skill development, we designed and conducted an experiment. The first group of 25 students underwent the experimental procedure of learning musical skills from the peer feedback website, coupled with weekly traditional face-to-face education. The control group of 25 students only received traditional face-to-face education. They were expected to master musical skills independently, without peer feedback.

This experiment aimed at collecting quantitative data, relating intensified peer blended feedback learning with improved musical skills and less musical inhibitions. We conducted a pre-test and a post-test with a survey and a musical skill-test.

Preliminary findings indicate significant increased engagement due to the encouraging feedback website in which students can safely explore their musical skills. According to the students, the possibility to substitute verbal feedback with symbols and signs proved to be conducive to musical skill enhancement. From the musical skills, rhythmic skill acquisition drastically improved due to intensified peer feedback through the website as opposed to less improvement within the traditional setting due to limited feedback time.

In sum, intensified blended peer feedback learning through an interactive website coupled with face-to-face learning significantly enhanced engagement in musical learning. Subsequently, students experienced less stage freight and insecurities.
Blended learning, musical skills, engagement, traditional learning.