Nurturing Young Composers: Exploring the Relationship Between Instruction and Transfer in 9- to 12-Year-Old Students
The purpose of this teacher research study was to explore my interpretation of transfer theories and attempt to teach for structural transfer in a general music class. My instructional strategies were designed to encourage learners to transfer concepts learned in listening and performance tasks to small group composing transfer tasks. Transfer theories posit that three conditions mediate the success of high road structural transfer to composing tasks: adequate instruction on structures, the student’s ability to use effective composing strategies, and the learning environment. Cognitive apprenticeship is recommended as an instructional approach to mentor students through the process of structural transfer to composing tasks.
I designed instruction that was based on recommendations from the transfer and children’s composition literatures and used a reflective spiral research design to field test my instruction. Each cycle in the spiral consisted of (1) implementing a unit of instruction followed by a transfer task, (2) performing a collaborative analysis on the instruction, student learning and transfer task products, and (3) developing tentative findings, new queries and recommendations to inform the next unit. Five complete cycles were completed, a pilot study and four units of a main study.
My findings indicated that structural transfer was mediated by a number of factors in the class, ranging from the social to the ability to generate ideas. The complex issues involved in teaching for transfer are discussed, along with the impact of the teacher research process on the teacher researcher.