How Composing Assessment in English Secondary Examinations Affect Teaching and Learning Practices

Devaney, Kirsty (2018) How Composing Assessment in English Secondary Examinations Affect Teaching and Learning Practices. Doctoral thesis, Birmingham City University.

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Composing has been a significant and assessed part of music in the classroom since its introduction into the English National Curriculum in 1988. However, there is very little research into how the assessment of composing influences teaching and learning practices. Within a time of great educational change and uncertainty for music education, this research seeks to uncover complexities within teaching and assessing composing at Key Stage 4 and Key Stage 5.

To investigate this under-researched area, mixed methodology approaches were used. Two surveys were conducted to gather breadth of teachers’ experiences of the assessment and nine telephone interviews with selected participants from the survey were also conducted. Five case studies allowed for in-depth data collection from diverse school settings from teachers as well as students. Case study data were obtained through interviews, focus groups and field observations. As the research sought to capture multiple perspectives, interviews with five composer-educators were also included. Data from participants were analysed through thematic and grounded theory approaches, as well as theorised using Engeström’s (2001) culturalhistorical activity theory and Bourdieu’s (1984) notions of field, capital and habitus.

Several contributions to knowledge are presented and discussed such as the significant concerns regarding reliability, subjectivity and bias in the assessment of composing at KS4 and KS5, along with questions regarding validity and real-world usefulness of the teaching and examinations. Due to high accountability cultures many teachers felt they had to alter their teaching to ensure their students passed the examinations. The study uncovered layers of powers, myths and mechanisms used to keep control, which in turn created internal conflict in teachers. Although this study found discontent and conflict, teachers and students were also complicit, not feeling able to openly contest the current systems in place. This exploratory study gives an indepth overview into the complexities of assessing and teaching composing at KS4 and KS5 outlining the challenges and pressures teachers and students face.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Additional Information: I would like to take this time to acknowledge those that have supported me through the PhD journey. Firstly, to all my music teachers who inspired me to pursue music, including the Cumbria Music Service who gave me my first musical opportunity and started me down this path. To my secondary school music teachers, Ken Ford-Powel and Martin Ulyatt who fostered and directed my enthusiasm; pushing me to achieve way beyond what I ever thought was possible. To the tutors at the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire, thank you for opening my mind and ears to new possibilities. Thank you to my research supervisors for their continued guidance, advice and support. To Professor Martin Fautley, without whom I would never have believed I was capable of accomplishing a PhD, thank you for continuing to challenge my thinking and taking me on this enlightening journey. To Professor Janet Hoskyns, thank you for your emotional and writing support, and to Dr. Victoria Kinsella who has been there as a critical eye and friend when I needed it. I would like to give my gratitude to the whole BCU education research community who made me feel welcome and a valuable member of the team. A particular thanks to Shannon who has shared the worries, drawbacks and successes with me. To those still on their PhD journey, your energy and enthusiasm has helped me get through the long days, and I wish you all the best. To my family and friends, thank you for putting up with me when I have probably been boring you with my thesis! Your love and support has been invaluable through these year. To Rob, you have been my rock throughout the last 8 years; believing in me when I doubted myself and making me lots of cups of tea when I worked late. Thank you for everything. Finally, thank you to the music teachers, students and composers who took part in the research. I hope I have done you justice and that the research will be of use during these challenging and difficult times for music education.
1 November 2018Completed
Uncontrolled Keywords: Composing, Assessment, Music, Composer, Arts, Activity, theory, GCSE, A-Level, Subjectivity, Reliability, Validity, Testing
Subjects: CAH25 - design, and creative and performing arts > CAH25-02 - performing arts > CAH25-02-02 - music
CAH22 - education and teaching > CAH22-01 - education and teaching > CAH22-01-02 - teacher training
CAH22 - education and teaching > CAH22-01 - education and teaching > CAH22-01-01 - education
Divisions: Doctoral Research College > Doctoral Theses Collection
Depositing User: Kip Darling
Date Deposited: 19 Mar 2019 11:36
Last Modified: 12 Jan 2022 17:23

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