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Implementation of a new assessment system: consequences for teaching and learning of music in Swedish schools year 5-7
Luleå University of Technology, Department of Arts, Communication and Education, Music and dance.
2013 (English)Conference paper, Presentation (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

Over the last years several reforms have influenced the educational system in Sweden. A new curriculum for the compulsory school has offered teachers and pupils a totally new system for assessment. A new credit scale is constructed and all pupils will be graded already in the 6th grade, which means that new teacher groups will have to grade their pupils’ performances. The curriculum describes criteria in three qualitative levels for each subject by defining aspects of a holistic knowing and describing three levels of competence within each of these aspects. Clarity and transparency have been steering concepts in the formulation process in order to offer parents and pupils a better possibility to understand and influence education and assessment in schools. At the same time teachers are expected to make holistic assessments of the pupils’ acquired knowledge. In a subject as music, teachers’ subject knowledge and conceptions of quality can transcend what is currently possible for them to verbalize. In several other subjects written and spoken language constitute the primary media of communication. Musical knowledge though, can be expressed and experienced in sounding forms, a mode of expression which is not easily transduced into writing or speaking. Hence, high demands for verbal clarity in aims and assessment may result in essential parts of music being excluded from teaching and learning, based on a view that these aspects are too complicated to assess equally, or impossible to communicate verbally in a clear way. There is a risk that the new demands on clarity and transparency may reduce the subject to comprise only those aspects that can be easily measured and talked about. The current study aims to systematically and critically investigate in which ways the Swedish curriculum with its new assessment- and grading regime influences music teachers’ practice and their students’ musical learning in grade 5 to 7. Earlier research has generally stated that educational reforms take time to implement, but recent reforms in England and USA give evidence that teaching methods and content can change rapidly, given a strong external pressure, for example through economic incentives, inspections, school choice and public display of schools’ and pupils’ performances. Music education could become an easy prey for such pressures, given that music teachers lack a tradition to accompany music with words and that musical assessment criteria often are perceived as subjective, as compared to objective measurables. The demand for clear and explicit criteria offers challenges, since differences between credit levels are expressed as assessable qualities and not measurable quantities. A forced verbalisation of these quality aspects may get consequences for music teachers’ evolving understanding of knowledge aspects, as well as for their experience of and qualitative evaluation of students’ musical achievements and expressions. The first phase of the study includes interviews with music teachers teaching in year 5-7 about changes in their teaching practices as well as their perceptions of the new demands in Lgr11. The second phase will be a survey, aiming to map the implementation scenario among Swedish music teach in the same years. The third and final part gets its inspiration from Engeström’s activity theory where structural and intentional contradictions are expected to have a key function for learning and development. In this phase the teachers’ as well as the students’ perspectives are focused through participant observation, interviews, and collegial conversations. The teachers define the problems found in practice, which are discussed among colleagues who together create strategies for further development. A model for general development work will be constructed through the project. By limiting the investigation to teachers who teach music in year 5-7 the study can claim to generate new knowledge concerning a group of teachers that have been neglected earlier. In the presentation at the conference we will present the study as a whole and also communicate some preliminary results from the first phase interview study.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Keyword [en]
Social sciences - Education
Keyword [sv]
Musikpedagogik, Socialvetenskap - Pedagogik
Research subject
Music Education
URN: urn:nbn:se:ltu:diva-39596Local ID: e6b69789-f068-4c8d-b58b-60247d42abb7OAI: diva2:1013111
Nordiskt Nätverk för Musikpedagogisk forskning : Music education research in relation to artistic research 27/02/2013 - 01/03/2013
Godkänd; 2013; 20121115 (cefe)Available from: 2016-10-03 Created: 2016-10-03Bibliographically approved

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