Connected teaching: Intergrating learning styles with developmental stages in the freshman music theory classroom
Stutes, Ann Brashear
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The content of university music theory courses and teaching styles of many music theory instructors maintain a long-standing and successful tradition; however, in light of increased awareness of diversity within the university classroom in addition to advances made in educational research, students in university music programs may benefit from changes in curriculum design and teaching approaches. This dissertation examines three areas of relevant research: (1) the role of gender in education, (2) individual learning styles found within a group of students, and (3) the developmental stages of college students. Using the findings from these three research areas, this study establishes a conceptual framework for understanding ways in which individual freshman students differ and for understanding how these differences affect the freshman music-theory classroom. The outcome is a proposal for a connected approach to teaching music theory through the integration of learning styles and developmental stages. Two topical units, one on major and minor scales and the other on secondary dominants, are introduced as examples of connected teaching in the freshman theory curriculum. Important issues emanating from connected teaching such as the potential evolution of the canon, changes in evaluation, and professional limitations are examined in detail. Connected teaching is an attempt to dispel the confusion arising from the diversity found within freshman music-theory classrooms. By actually channeling diversity so that it enhances the learning process rather than destroys it, connected teachers ensure that all motivated students have equal chances to succeed in the classroom.