The development of the new BTEC National Diploma in Music course will be discussed, specifically looking at the revision of the Studying Music from around the World Unit. Firstly the rationale and reasoning for its place as an important area within music as an educational and vocational context will be touched upon. Music is seen as a major art form and as a result offers students the possibility of developing their imagination, creativity skills and also stretching their individual intellectual capabilities.
As an art form it provides a means of expression and communication. The BTEC specification provided by EDEXCEL: ‘Edexcel Level 3 BTEC Nationals in Music For first teaching September 2007 © Edexcel Limited 2007’ leans towards the idea of a vocational education, therefore requiring the students to experience music within a ‘real working environment’. The specification for this area enables the practical, theoretical and contextual study of music to be studied, allowing the learners to create, perform and critique all aspects of the Music world.
Over the past six months a new syllabus has replaced the old and as a result many units have been updated, with one of them being the Studying Music from around the World Unit. Within the old syllabus there were many criteria that had to be achieved in order to pass the unit. This caused many problems as some criterion were vague and others unrealistic within the amount of time given on the subject. This has now been developed and the unit content and criteria more transparent. This allows the learners to achieve both the theoretical and practical aspects of the units. In the past quantity was reined over quality.
The unit used to focus briefly on seven or eight countries instead of conducting in-depth analysis on three or four. The changes that have been implemented means that the learner really does learn and acquires knowledge at a steady effective pace. The scheme of work and lesson resources have been developed in order to ensure all learning outcomes are being met. While students study this unit there will be on going tests and there will be five weeks of practical session were the learners produce a musical piece that encompasses the different characteristics and styles of the music’s they have been studying.
This ensures that they understand the content of the unit and have the opportunity to record what they have learnt. I felt that the old specification did not allow for inclusion of different abilities as it did not allow time to introduce the subject slowly or allow the learners to develop basic skills then eventually progress onto more complex aspects. The new specification allows time for breaking down information and delivering it in a more effective way. It caters for beginners as well as more advanced students.
The National Music Teachers association’s policy will be discussed in terms of values that could possibly be transferred to the development project being looked at. The National Music Teachers Association provides initiatives that could potentially develop and maximise music within education, and has a policy that discusses issues and problem areas within Music education. ‘A high quality music education enables pupils to make informed choices about participation in music beyond school and into adult life. Pupils should have access to information about routes into further and higher education and professional training. (NDTA Policy paper, 2004:5) The English curriculum and qualifications are the main area for discussion. It is the only organisation that supports and develops music teachers and music as an important area within an educational context. Not only does the organisation provide quality training for teachers, it also offers young people access to projects led by professional music artists. The government also has a policy that sates that everyone should have access to learning. ‘This Government is committed to the establishment of a learning society in which all people have opportunities to succeed.
Increasing access to learning and providing opportunities for success and progression are fundamental to the Government’s strategy. These are the keys to social cohesion and economic success. ’ (Government’s response to the report, Learning Works 2004) The role of widening participation is an important part of the future development of the Music Course being discussed. Music is not seen as a serious subject and some think it is the easy option. The necessity for colleges to widen participation is vital and a fundamental requirement to move towards the establishment of the governments ‘learning society’.
The extension of widening participations plays a key role nationally and locally in social inclusion. As well as social inclusion, the government’s policy on 14-19 year olds sees the importance of college’s roles in inclusion of education for younger school students. The policy is set to raise participation and achievement for post 16s, by utilising FE colleges to provide vocational training for secondary pupils. The education inclusion responsibilities of colleges will help to provide post 16 students a chance to learn vocational skills and hopefully engage students and provide them with valuable skills. Every young person should be able to develop her/his full potential, and become equipped with the knowledge, skills and attributes needed for adult life. ’ (14-19 curriculum and qualifications report 2004) ‘The rate of change will be such that every individual of whatever capability will need access to educational opportunities throughout their life, and the programmes of education designed to develop future teachers must highlight values and cultural issues in the curriculum. ’ (Neary, 2002:2) It could be suggested that the reasons for the specification changing was due to the change in trends relating to music practice.
Many units have been updated as music techniques are constantly changing and becoming more accessible to young people. This relates to the theory of curriculum as a product as it is dependant upon the setting of behavioural objectives. ‘Central to the approach is the formulation of behavioural objectives- providing clear notion of outcome so that content and method may be organized and the results evaluated’ (Smith, 1996:4) The development of any curriculum has to be planned in stages. The needs of the students have to be firstly looked at. In the case of my project this was discussed between members of EDEXCEL.
A new specification was written with specialist staff allowing the units and language used to be subject specific rather than generalised and vague. This stage then leads onto writing the aims and objectives. The examining board provides this so that all colleges are assessing in a uniformed manner. The criterion clearly states what the students have to do in order to achieve either a pass, merit or distinction grade. The next stage looked at is the content itself. Learning outcomes are provided however it s at the tutors discretion to decide upon assessment strategies and topics that should be covered.
This depends on a variety of things, such as staff specialism’s / skills, resources and learners. ‘Curricula should be planned through the specification of objectives’ (Golby, Greenwald, West, 1982, p178) The course structure is the next area to be planned and depends upon the needs of the learners. Whilst developing the unit previously mentioned, it became apparent that any previous weaknesses within the specification had been eradicated and replaced with suitable criteria written using appropriate language.
The aims and objectives were clearly set which meant that assessment strategies had to be decided upon as well as the updating of resources. The main aims of the unit are for the learners to gain an understanding of different cultures and their music. When discussing the curriculum as a product we are referring to a curriculum where objectives are set, a plan is drawn up and the outcomes are measured. My curriculum project has been designed in a similar way. EDEXCEL set the objectives, I as a lecturer decide on how these objectives will be met and set assignments around them.
The outcomes of the assignment are measured and the learner’s grades are determined. This model is commonly used within vocational courses. ‘The problem here is that such programmes inevitably exist prior to and outside the learning experiences. This takes much away from learners. They can end up with little or no voice. ’ (Smith, 1996: 4) Smith argues that this model can hinder the learning experience as the learners are told what they should learn and how this should be done. The development of the unit previously discussed takes learning needs into consideration.
It has been broken down so that learners have longer to study the key elements before they have to put them into practice. With specifications such as the one my plan is based on, it becomes easy to adapt lessons and assignments to meet individual learning needs. There is the freedom to make it work for different scenarios. The product model relies heavily on measurability implying that behaviour can be objectively measured. The argument against this model is whether the focus should be on individual parts rather than the curriculum as a whole.
EDEXCEL have designed their specification to look at different aspects of the music industry, ensuring different skills are covered. There are seventeen different units to teach, most of which have to be taught a separate entities. Concentration is focused on the smaller parts, in this case each unit, in order to achieve the whole: the final qualification. All units must be passed in order to do this. Curriculum as a process will be discussed briefly in order to gain a better understanding of the Curriculum.
The main idea behind the this model is that the curriculum should be an interaction between students, teachers and knowledge, rather than solely being teacher led as is the case in the Product model. The curriculum becomes something that occurs in the classroom, making it an active process. Teachers and students working together therefore determine the content. In this case the main emphasis is on learning. ‘The major weaknesses and indeed strength of the process model is that it rests upon the quality of teachers. I f they are not up to much then there is no safety net in the form of prescribed curriculum materials. (Smith, 1996: 9) This is a valid argument, however within vocational areas teachers are required to have relevant experience and skills related to their specific specialism. This reduces the risk that teachers do not have enough knowledge of the subject in order to teach it effectively. It could be suggested that allowing learners to have a voice in terms of what is being taught and how this should be done allows for a positive learning experience, however I do not feel this is a good approach when designing a curriculum project.
It requires a lot of trust to be placed on the learners; preferred methods of learning may not always be the right or the most effective ways. ‘It may be that process models are of great importance in areas of the curriculum where understanding and criteria are central, precisely because such models counteract the pressure of the examination as an objective and deny that knowledge can be defined by the examination. ’ (Stenhouse, 1975:96) Both models could be overlapped to create the ‘ideal’ model.
The values of the product model and ideas behind the process model could be fused so that objectives are set; the tutor plans assignments/ assessments with learners deciding on how they can be met effectively. The next stage to consider when planning or developing the curriculum is Teaching and learning strategies. The resources I have developed provide a variety of learning methods for the students. Lectures with visual learning aids are to be used in order to meet varying learning needs.
Also workshop sessions are to be implemented hopefully with practitioners that are experts in a particular world music styles. Learners will have the chance to record there own world music piece on Cd. For assessment learners are expected to perform as part of a group support by an evaluation and written assignment. Keys Skill play an essential role in the effectiveness of the curriculum. ‘Key skills, common skills, transferable personal skills and core skills are all terms used for those skills and qualities people need in the world of work. ’ (Reece & Walker, 1992:304)
In order for education to work and for learners to attain basic skills essential for employment, a curriculum must implement key skills to allow its learners to attain and develop basic skills in addition to the subject they study. The unit I designed contains the essential key skills. The criterion requires students to write an evaluation of their role and how the piece of music is representative a particular culture/s. Students are required to type this so that all work is legible and it also aids them with spelling and grammar. Research for the unit is required and so the Internet is used as a resource.
IT key skill therefore features frequently. Literacy and group work will also be used in most sessions. Handouts will be given to learners in order for them to have learning references. To evaluate the effectiveness and quality of the course a number of methods will be used. Questionnaires are useful in terms of receiving an immediate and honest response. At the end of each lesson there is an evaluation box which allows the tutor to state things that went well or that did not work. What would be a useful tool is ti adopt Stufflebeams evaluation model.
The model consists of four headings of which the evaluation methods can be set. The headings are •Context – The aims and setting of the course •Input – The effectiveness and role of student, staff and resources •Process – The process of learning •Product – The outcomes By using a mixture of methods an extremely effective evaluation model could be devised that covers all the influencing factors that need to be addressed. This enables the curriculum to be developed, improved and adapted accordingly. ‘The model sees evaluation as essential to society’s progress and well-being.
It contends that societal groups cannot make their programs, services, and products better unless they learn where they are weak and strong. ’ (Stufflebeam, 2003:45) I think the plan and design of the curriculum is successful. It was specifically designed to cover basic Contemporary music skills that could be used further in other units on the course. As mentioned this unit directly leads onto the applying of contemporary technique, however the skills gained could be used in units such as Choreography or movement. The resources are designed for all learners to access easily and would be uploaded onto Moodle.
This is an online programme that all students can access inside or outside of college. Providing appropriate handouts would cater for any students with special learning needs such as dyslexia. Power points enable visual learners to digest information effectively. There are also resources that involve working practically catering fro kinaesthetic learners. Inclusion of genders is an important aspect in regards to promoting the course and making it accessible to all. The resources developed are not gender related and in my opinion would appeal to not only various learning styles but also mixed gender groups.
The curriculum development project could be implemented amongst courses such as BTEC National Diplomas, but it could also work alone within its own right. It gives a insight into non- stereotypical areas of music as well as covering aspects of equality and diversity. As part of this unit I would introduce Music companies such as DV8 and Candoco, who are known for using both abled bodied and disabled musicrs. To summarise the unit developed not only projects a positive image of the music world in terms of minority groups, but allows the learner to learn basic contemporary music skills and develop them further within a wider context.