Effects of Variable Task Structuring and Guided Self-Reflection on Compositional Quality, Self-Assessments, and Attitudes of Novice Student Composers
The purpose of the study was to examine the effects of type of task structure and guided self-reflection on musicality ratings assigned by experienced music teachers to compositions, student self-assessment profiles, and student attitudes and understandings about their own composing experiences. Three sixth-grade public school classes (N = 63) were randomly assigned to one of three treatment conditions, labeled Problem-Solving (PS), Problem-Solving with Guided Self-Reflection (PSR), and Problem-Finding with Guided Self-Reflection (PFR). The Problem-Solving condition was characterized by teacher-directed scope and sequence as well as predefined assessment criteria; The Problem-Finding condition was characterized by emergent scope and sequence, as well as initially ill-defined assessment criteria. Participants in the Guided Self-Reflection groups responded daily to questions about their processes and strategies, and completed product self-assessment forms after hearing their taped compositions. Three music educators with experience in classroom-based composing rated the musicality of the resulting 83 compositions using a computer-based researcher-designed instrument.
Participants in the PSR group displayed significantly lower self-efficacy and global product self-assessment profiles, were less likely to indicate that they looked forward to composing in the future, and were less likely to change their beliefs about compositional closure than were participants in either of the other groups. Participants in the PFR group appeared to develop increasingly stringent criteria against which local product aspects were assessed, a trend that was not observed in the PSR group. Participants in the PSR group displayed a substantial (but statistically non-significant) trend of decreasing musicality ratings over time, while musicality ratings for the other two groups increased over time. The author concluded that Guided Self-Reflection should be used only in an environment in which students are allowed to determine the scope and sequence of their work.