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Creating music in the classroom with tablet computers: An activity system analysis of two secondary school communities.

Evans, Ben (2020) Creating music in the classroom with tablet computers: An activity system analysis of two secondary school communities. PhD thesis, University of Leeds.

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Tablet computers are becoming inextricably linked with innovation and change in schools. Increasingly therefore, music teachers must consider how tablet computers might influence creative musical development in their own classroom. This qualitative research into two secondary school communities aims to develop understandings about what really happens when students and a music teacher-researcher compose music in partnership with a tablet computer. A sociocultural definition of creativity, theories of Activity, and the musicking argument inform a new systemic framework which guides fieldwork. This framework becomes the unit of analysis from which the research questions and a multi-case, multimodal methodology emerge. The methodology developed here honours the situated nature of those meanings which emerge in each of the two school communities. Consequently, research findings are presented as two separate case reports. Five mixed-ability pairs are purposively sampled from each community to represent the broad range of musical experience present in that setting. A Video-enhanced, participant-observation method ensures that systemic, multimodal musicking behaviours are captured as they emerge overtime. Naturalistic group interviewing at the end of the project reveals how students’ broader musical cultures, interests and experiences influence their tablet-mediated classroom behaviour. Findings develop new understandings about how tablet-mediated creative musical action champions inclusive musicking (musical experience notwithstanding) and better connects the music classroom and its institutional requirements with students’ informal music-making practices. The systems of classroom Activity which emerge also compensate for those moments when the tablet attempts to overtly determine creative behaviour or conversely, does not do enough to ensure a creative outcome. In fact, all system dimensions (e.g. student partner/teacher/student/tablet) influence tablet- mediated action by feeding the system with musical and technological knowledge, which was also pedagogically conditioned. This musical, technological and pedagogical conditioning is mashed-up, influencing action just-in-time, according to cultural, local and personal need. A new method of visual charting is developed to ‘peer inside’ these classroom-situated systems. Colour-coded charts evidence how classroom musicians make use of and synthesize different system dimensions to find, focus and fix their creative musical ideas over time. There are also implications for research, policy and practice going forward. In terms of researching digitally-mediated creativity, a new social-cultural Activity framework is presented which encourages researchers to revise their definition of creativity itself. Such a definition would emphasise the role of cultural, local and personal constraint in creative musical development. With reference to classroom practice, this research discovers that when students partner with tablet computers, their own musical interests, experiences and desires are forwarded. Even though these desires become fused with institutional requirements, students take ownership of their learning and are found rightfully proud of their creative products. This naturalistic, community-driven form of tablet- mediated creative musical development encourages policy makers and teachers to reposition the music classroom: to reconnect it with the local community it serves.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: Digital music technology creativity education pedagogy distributed intelligence informal music-making activity theory musicking
Academic Units: The University of Leeds > Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Cultures (Leeds)
The University of Leeds > Faculty of Education, Social Sciences and Law (Leeds)
The University of Leeds > Faculty of Education, Social Sciences and Law (Leeds) > School of Education (Leeds)
Identification Number/EthosID: uk.bl.ethos.804578
Depositing User: Dr. Ben Evans
Date Deposited: 01 May 2020 06:14
Last Modified: 11 May 2020 09:53
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/26493

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