NAFOL profile: Elizabeth Oltedal

Elizabeth Oltedal. Foto.Conviction and compromise: An exploratory study of social moderation in the assessment of music performance

The main goal of this project is to develop knowledge on assessment practices in music performance in Norwegian upper secondary school, in particular challenges of social moderation for assessing performance on main instrument.

In the paradigm of assessment for learning, there is a strong focus on measurement of learning outcomes and accountability. Documentation of students’ learning in a formative process does not make summative assessment situations redundant, but rather increases the pressure on teachers to make assessment procedures comprehensive and transparent, so that students more readily can use them as a tool for further learning. This may be particularly difficult in the case of assessment of music performance, which is often seen as a highly subjective enterprise. In Norway, whilst the National Curriculum (LK06) for the elective music programme in upper secondary school stipulates certain learning outcomes that apply to main instrument, schools are expected to define more detailed learning objectives at the local level. For instrumental teachers, who teach in individualised settings and often forge personal relationships with their students, the teacher panel is a valuable and vulnerable site for the discussion of qualitative criteria and standards for attainment. But the potentially broad range of instruments, genre and repertoire may make it difficult to define criteria and to construct assessment procedures that are experienced as valid and reliable. To date this problem is under-communicated in national and international research. The purpose of the current project is therefore to investigate how teachers perceive and practice assessment in main instrument in a Norwegian upper secondary school. Findings from the project may have implications both for the ways in which schools practice assessment in this subject, and for music teacher education.

The overarching research question can be summed up as follows, the main question being further qualified by the secondary question: What happens when teachers meet to assess different types of music performance? What are the challenges of assessment of musical performance in the context of teacher teams in upper secondary school?

The project uses empirical data from interviews with instrumental teachers at two upper secondary schools, and observation of 15 assessment meetings at a third school. The thesis is article-based, and will include four articles.

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