Examining student depictions of actual and ideal learning experiences in elementary general music


The purpose of this study was to explore and synthesize the perspectives of primary-level students regarding their experiences in general music by analyzing their drawings. A research protocol was developed using an adaptation of the Kinetic School Drawing approach established by Prout and Phillips. A total of 180 primary students from four school contexts participated by creating pictorial depictions of both actual and ideal activities in general music class, which were then analyzed by an outside panel of expert assessors for apparent and implied features. The reactions and reflections of the general music specialists (n = 4) who taught the student participants were also documented and analyzed. Findings centered on students’ (a) preferences for agency and active, volitional learning activities, (b) desire for achievement, individualization, and feedback, and (c) tendencies to highlight compliant, institutionally appropriate behaviors over musical ones. The findings of this study suggest several implications for practice and the need for more intentional efforts to honor the perspectives of students when designing and facilitating music learning experiences, even at the primary level.

Publication Title

Research Studies in Music Education