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A mixed methods analysis of constructivism in the teaching materials created for older beginner piano students: An Australian perspective

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posted on 2021-12-31, 00:10 authored by Joanne BurrowsJoanne Burrows
This research explores the facilitation of constructivism in the teaching materials and method books most commonly used by Australian studio piano teachers when teaching older beginning piano students. A two-phase research design using mixed methods methodology is employed. The first phase of the project identifies the teaching materials and method books preferred by Australian studio piano teachers, when teaching the older beginner piano student, aged 12 to 17. In the second phase these teaching materials and method books are evaluated to determine the degree to which they facilitate constructivist learning. In phase one, piano teachers from all states and territories in Australia were invited to complete an online survey comprised of closed and open-ended questions regarding the teaching materials used with older beginning students. Identifying and quantifying the teaching materials selected by the majority of piano teachers was the chief objective of phase one. Secondary objectives of the survey included an exploration of the participant’s teaching practice and their opinions regarding the teaching materials currently available for older beginner students, aged 12 to 17. For the purpose of this research the older beginner is defined as a student who commences piano lessons sometime between the ages of 12 to 17. In phase two the learning theory of constructivism provided a lens and framework for the purpose of critically examining the teacher preferred materials identified from the survey administered in phase one. The various components of constructivism learning theory were identified to compile a comprehensive definition that embraced the multiple manefestations of this theory. This comprehensive definition which includes aspects of social and cognitive constructivism informed the creation of a constructivism tool (CET). Morford (2007) defines constructivist learning theory as a process involving an individual’s active building and construction of knowledge. Scruggs (2009) argues that an active and engaged student progresses more quickly and finds greater meaning in the music making experience. The purpose of phase two was to determine the extent to which selected teaching materials facilitate constructivism in terms of the way the content, approaches and structure of the method books incorporate different learning styles as well as active cognitive and co-operative social learning. The CET also explored the focus of learning in terms of facilitating student self-reflections, self-evalution, ownership and goal setting. This research offers insights for piano teachers and music education researchers into aspects of piano teaching in Australia and the teaching materials for older beginners in relation to constructivism. Research outcomes indicate that the piano method books preferred by teachers, for teaching older beginners, facilitate some aspects of constructivism very strongly yet other features of constructivism are moderately or marginally encouraged.



Central Queensland University

Open Access

  • Yes

Era Eligible

  • No


Professor Judith Brown ; Professor Craig Batty

Thesis Type

  • Master's by Research Thesis

Thesis Format

  • Traditional