Student Achievement Assessment Committee
College of Musical Arts
CMA Assessment-Aural Skills Report, Spring 2002
The following learning outcomes have been part of the aural-skills curriculum since the inception of the aural-skills curriculum guide in 1998. We continue to focus on the increased competence levels of our students and their ability to communicate that competence.
Pitch organization: ability to recognize both functional and non-functional relationships
Rhythm and meter: ability to maintain a steady tempo, master metric hierarchies; exposure to new
approaches to meter
Musical memory: ability to remember not only progressively longer musical excerpts, but long-range
Mastery of solfège syllables to communicate knowledge of pitch organization while singing
Mastery of European note names to communicate knowledge of staff notation (clef reading), chord
structure (spelling within a key), and knowledge of pitch relations independent of solfège while
Mastery of rhythmic syllables to communicate knowledge of rhythmic/metric components while
performing musical excerpts
Mastery of musical notation to communicate knowledge of both pitch organization and rhythm and meter
while notating dictated musical excerpts
Mastery of Roman numerals to communicate knowledge of dictated harmonic progressions
Common finals were again given in MuCT 141 and 142 during the past year.
The common ear-training finals were analyzed to identify student strengths and weaknesses.
In the spring of 2002, twelve students were observed at their MuCT 142 sight-singing finals.
Ear Training (Spring 2002)
Students scored an average of 70% or higher on melodic dictation, interval dictation,
2-part dictation, and SBRN dictation.
Students scored an average of 69% or lower on rhythmic dictation and chord function
Sight Singing (Spring 2002)
Good: Communication of musical knowledge via solfège and rhythmic syllables; accuracy of
Fair: Accuracy in sight singing and singing of chord progressions
Weak: Singing of intervals, accuracy of singing in note names (versus in solfège)
Beginning in Fall 2002, Theory I and Aural Skills I will be more closely coordinated to highlight
connections between material covered in these courses. This should help address the on-going weakness in chord function identification, as student errors often reflect a failure to relate knowledge of typical chord progressions, as learned in theory classes, to the ear training task.
More work on rhythmic dictation, perhaps requiring responses in rhythmic syllables as well as in
notation, both to emphasize connections between performed and dictated rhythms and
also to help students pin-point the source of their problems as pattern recognition
(identifying the appropriate syllables) or notational (moving from the syllables into
Reconsider teaching of intervals outside of diatonic context, at least initially? Perhaps focus on
diatonic contexts in Aural Skills I, then "review" intervals outside of a given diatonic
context in Aural Skills II.
More work singing in note names, both in terms of melodies and chord progressions.
Composition Area Assessment Report 2001-2002
Mikel Kuehn, Assistant Professor and Composition Area Coordinator
- Students develop skills to articulate their ideas (within the context of a piece of original music).
- Student are able to relate their work to larger historical, formal, stylistic, cultural, and/or aesthetic contexts.
- Student are able to identify strengths and weaknesses in their writing.
- Students can incorporate new ideas into their writing and can synthesize them into an original statement.
- Students are able to clearly articulate their ideas to performers and audiences.
- Students are able to articulate the ideas in their music (to other colleagues) in a clear and detailed manner.
- Students are able to listen to and speak critically of a piece of (contemporary) music (in addition to their own music). They should also be able to relate the salient aspects of a particular work to larger historical, formal, stylistic, cultural, and/or aesthetic contexts.
1. Faculty Assessment of Our Students
Current Measures in Place:
- Weekly Lessons
- Student Composers' Forums and Other Public Performance Venues
- Semester Juries
- Senior Recital (undergraduate capstone experience)
2. Student Assessment of Our Program
During our jury process in the spring semester we have implemented a strategy for the students to assess our program (each student submits a one page assessment essay on the strengths and weaknesses of the program in their own opinion).
While our assessment strategies confirmed many positive outcomes of our students learning, this process has helped us to draw several important outcomes as they relate to our above stated "learning outcomes". The main points, summarized below, are a result of the assessment data and reflect a combination of the faculty's observations combined with the majority of the student's comments. We have only included constructive issues since time nor space permits elaboration on the many strengths of the program in general.
I. Core Curriculum Issues
One of the challenges in teaching composition at a university is that the core music curriculum does not routinely address the main technical or philosophical focuses on music after the common practice period (c. 1700-1900). Most universities have developed a few "advanced" core courses for composers (and others) to solve this problem. Without these courses it is occasionally possible to supplement the core curriculum (e.g., in private lessons, weekly seminars, presentations, etc.) with core topics but at the expense of a solid foundation across the program (i.e., the global knowledge amongst the students is very patchy and not, to a certain statistically representative degree, "standardized"). Moreover, the forums that are used to disseminate this "supplemental" knowledge are needed for other important topics. Because there is no "core" composition curriculum (aside from private composition lessons) at BGSU, two areas of weakness are inherent to our program (in that they are inconsistent if not completely lacking):
1. An opportunity to study 20th century repertoire in-depth from a compositional perspective.
2. An opportunity to study compositional techniques in-depth as employed by 20th and 21st century composers (i.e., a 20th century analysis course from a compositional perspective).
Mainly because of the breadth of the faculty and the opportunities that are offered from the college's MidAmerican Center for Contemporary Music, the students are routinely exposed to a wide variety of contemporaneous activities in contemporary music. However, while most comparable music schools require their students to take special courses in contemporary music literature (courses that cover music literature for the 20th century or two courses that break the 20th century into pre- and post-1945) BGSU does not and, therefore, we find our students matriculating and graduating with patchy and varying backgrounds concerning their own field. These issues penetrate all of the stated "learning outcomes", but most heavily issues of competence and critical listening. A majority of the students echoed this concern in their assessment essays and have expressed an interest in taking more composition-related courses.
II. Reflection/Confirmation of Learning
The faculty has been dealing, each semester, with a major problem regarding the grading procedures implemented within the university and College of Musical Arts. Because the University has adopted a 4-point (passing) grading scale (A-D) instead of a 12-point scale (minuses and pluses added to each grade), we have found that our students' grades (especially graduate students) are routinely suffering from "grade inflation". At most graduate music schools in the United States, passing graduate grades range from A-B. With our current grading system this creates a binary decision for assigning passing grades (A or B). Since many doctoral institutions will not seriously consider a student who has received Bs on their transcripts for private composition study, we are, at many times, "forced" to give students who deserve a B+ or A- an A. We routinely feel that this is bordering on unethical and is certainly unfair to our other students who have earned a solid A. This has, at many times, the effect of the student erroneously coming to the conclusion that the faculty (grades are made in consultation with the entire composition faculty at the end of the semester jury) is sending the message that they did a "superior" job when there may have been much room for improvement.
III. Presentation of Miscellaneous Compositional Issues
A large number of students commented that they would like to have a forum for more information on "compositional issues" (e.g., using a notation program, how to find performers and get performances, applying to doctoral programs, talking shop with other composers and examining each other's music in a critical manner).
IV. Recruitment of Students
BGSU has one of the top composition programs in the United States, however, we are constantly loosing our most talented student applicants to schools with more scholarship and/or assistantship money.
Actions (taken or to be investigated)
I. Core Curriculum Issues
A. Solutions to Offering a "Contemporary" (Since 1900) Literature Course:
Since the College of Musical Arts currently offers no recurring history course focusing solely on an in-depth look at the literature of 20th century art music, one or several would need to be developed (it is interesting to note that while composition does not have its own literature course, most areas do. MuCT does offer topical seminars such as 621, 622 but these rotate topics and typically focus on a specific period, style, aesthetic, or composer -- we need courses to lay the general foundation in contemporary literature). Here are some possibilities:
1. Rather than inflating the degree requirements, we could position one of the history courses in place of directed research (MuCT 690) or perhaps the composition area should offer their own section of MuCT 690 as a literature course for composers (i.e., perhaps the content of 690 should be reevaluated).
2. A new history seminar on music since 1900 (or two seminars, one from 1900-1945, another from 1945 to the present) could be offered on a regular basis. This could be a suggested core elective requirement (if two were offered one could be taken as an "other studies" history elective, the other as a composition elective under "studies in major field". The composer teaching this course could offer insights from a compositional perspective to those composers in the course. Courses like these would also be excellent electives for our History, Theory, Performance, Jazz Studies, and Music Education majors. This solution would work well because it would not create a credit hour problem as would course substitution (these would be 3 credit-hour courses). If two courses were added (pre- and post- 1945) it would allow more in-depth study of the periods and specific works (a single course would have to be more "shallow" in its approach.) Perhaps one of the two could be required and elected by the student based on interest.
B. Contemporary Theory
Private instruction in composition is difficult when the vocabulary of students is based on the common practice period. Just as a knowledge of contemporary music history would create a knowledge base for teaching through examples, the study of the basic concepts of 20th century theory through analysis of standard works would serve as an excellent model for the application of creative ideas -- this would help private instruction penetrate to the heart of the matter at hand. The MuCT area currently offers a course in 20th century analysis (MuCT 514) which could be required or a suggested elective. However, if we were to require all graduate students in composition to take a course like this (or one with more of a compositional perspective) during their first semester, private instruction could penetrate to deeper levels.
C. Intermediary Steps Already Taken
- We are trying to enforce listening policies in our private instruction. This is difficult because it is not centralized and it takes valuable time away from working with the students directly on their music.
- We have talked about giving a required semesterly listening examination, however, we don't have a dedicated forum to discuss these works in an in-depth manner (most of the seminar time is needed for other purposes).
- We have recently implemented a program whereby each student will purchase a required textbook (faculty chosen for the department that semester) for their composition study each semester.
II. Reflection/Confirmation of Learning
During the upcoming academic year, we will investigate the possibility of changing our grading scale.
III. Presentation of Miscellaneous Compositional Issues
During the upcoming academic year, we will investigate the possibility of introducing miscellaneous composition topics to our biweekly seminars (discussions of student works in progress, application to graduate schools, how to get works performed, notational issues and notation programs, etc.). Perhaps, it would help if the supervision of the seminar were rotated each semester (i.e., a different faculty member, or graduate student, supervised the seminars each semester).
College of Musical Arts
Jazz Area Assessment Report - Spring Semester 2002
This memo is to confirm that the Jazz Area of the College of Musical Arts is continuing the process of implementation of student assessment programs. For Spring Semester, 2002, the process and results are as follows:
1. At the beginning of the semester, the Director of Jazz Studies collated and summarized all data pertaining to Fall, 2001 Jazz Juries.
2. The Director arranged conference meetings with all continuing Jazz Studies majors to discuss the average rankings for each category of the assessment matrix. The conference was based upon an "advisement" model and appears to be effective as a method of continually monitoring each student's progress.
3. A record of each individual student's data as well as the conference is retained in files to be referred to in future conferences for the purpose of advisement.
4. Data will again be collected with the implementation of Juries for Spring Semester, 2002, and this data will be used (again in summary/average fashion) for conferences to be scheduled for Fall, 2003.
Performance Department (Brass area) Report 2001-2002
The learning outcomes receiving particular attention this year were Competence and Independence. We were concerned with assessing student performance skills and ability to independently interpret the literature. Our desire was to find specific areas that need to be addressed.
Assessments made and assessment activities:
This year the brass area has experimented with a few different assessment activities. The horn and trumpet studios evaluated all freshmen at the end of each semester. The assessment tool measured each of the following areas: tone quality, intonation, finger technique, articulation, intonation, and interpretation. The trombone studio has begun an assessment tool that will include a video portfolio. Students will be evaluated weekly using video and recorded audio. This tool will be implemented in the upcoming academic year. All brass majors were assessed at the end of the semester during final jury examinations. Each student was evaluated in the following categories: tone/intonation, technique/articulation/rhythm, dynamics/expression/phrasing/style, facility/control. Based on these categories, a performance grade was assigned by each evaluator.
The horn and trumpet studios found that there was significant progress made from the fall semester to the spring semester. This was particularly evident in the area of tone quality and finger technique. The results from the brass jury examinations showed that most students performed adequately for both learning outcomes. Students appear to be quite strong technically and more experienced students showed substantial competence and independence in their performance. A few areas that need improvement are independence and collaboration. Students need to improve their skills in performing with an accompanist and in developing a more independent interpretation of the work being performed.
Actions taken based on assessment findings:
The brass area is looking at ways to solidify our assessment activities this next year and possibly limit the items we are assessing. The department is looking at the jury evaluation sheets from each of the different areas in order to determine common goals and outcomes. We will continue to refine our measuring tool for evaluating the jury examination. We hope to videotape these examinations in the future in order to use this experience as a teaching tool after the examination. After listening to the final jury examination, it appears that more focus is needed in the following: working with students and their pianists to provide a more holistic approach to the preparation of the standard recital literature, encouraging more independence, and developing tone.
Theory core (special focus on Basic Musicianship & Theory I/II)
Assessment of the theory core for 2001-2002 has centered on two projects:
1. Tracing the progress of 33 students who started Basic Musicianship I, MuCT113, in Fall 1999;
2. Evaluating student learning outcomes through chorale writing projects in Theory I, MuCT151, and Theory II, MuCT152.
PROJECT #1 (BASIC MUSICIANSHIP)
During the 2000-2001 academic year, we assessed the competence and skill development of students in remedial theory courses (MuCT114, Basic Musicianship II, and MuCT115, Accelerated Fundamentals). We were especially interested to see what the students learned by the end of these courses and if the students felt these courses prepared them for the upper level theory and aural skills classes.
This year we focused on a sample group (students who enrolled in MuCT113 in Fall 1999) to see how they have progressed from their initial enrollment in the university until now (completing their fifth and sixth semesters).
Learning Outcomes (MuCT113):
Basic Musicianship I, MuCT113, is a remedial course with two primary learning outcomes:
1. Competence in notation, scales, key signatures, intervals, and triads.
2. Skill development (e.g., analysis, discrimination, and creativity) needed to be successful in
upper level courses (e.g., theory, aural skills, history)
Assessments made, Results, and Conclusions (MuCT113):
MuCT113 students who began in Fall 1999:
In Fall 1999, thirty-three students enrolled in MuCT113. As of Spring 2002, twenty of them (61%) are currently students at BGSU in various colleges as indicated by the following:
10 -- College of Musical Arts,
6 -- Arts & Sciences,
3 -- College of Education,
1 -- Technology.
Of the thirteen students that are no longer at BGSU, six (46%) left the university in Spring 2000 and two have graduated. The other five left the university at other times.
Progress through music curriculum:
As these MuCT113 students continue through the music curriculum, they would take the following courses: Basic Musicianship II (Spring 2000); Theory I and Aural Skills I (Fall 2000); Theory II and Aural Skills II (Spring 2001); Theory III, Aural Skills III, History I (Fall 2001). The following list shows how many of these original thirty-three students have completed which course:
16 -- Basic Musicianship II,
11 -- Theory I and Aural Skills I,
8 -- Theory II,
9 -- Aural Skills II,
5 -- Theory III,
5 -- Aural Skills III (not the same five students as Theory III),
7 -- History.
Three of the five students in Theory III have also completed Aural Skills III and History I.
Student mastery of learning outcomes in upper level courses:
Similar to our 2000-2001 study, the skill development of these seven students, who took Basic Musicianship I and have now completed History I, were compared with their peers who did not take Basic Musicianship. In general, the students who took Basic Musicianship performed equally with other students on most learning outcomes (Outcome 1 and most of Outcome 2). However, listening skills (especially those requiring rhythmic notation) were weaker. Additionally, grade point averages for the seven students indicate that aural skills (singing and listening) are weakest. This matches the Spring 2000 student survey results where students mentioned that they felt weakest in aural skills. Therefore, they recommended a greater emphasis on aural skills in Basic Musicianship courses.
In summary, the majority of these MuCT113 students are continuing students at BGSU, several not in the College of Musical Arts. Most of the students who left the university completed only one year of their studies. Music students completing Basic Musicianship I and II generally stay in our program and progress in a timely fashion. These students appear to struggle most with aural skills (especially listening) throughout their core courses.
Actions Taken (MuCT113):
The course content in MuCT113 & MuCT114 was modified this past year to include more aural skills. In the future, a special focus on listening will be included in Theory I, II, III, and IV. During 2002-2003 further assessments will be made to see if students have greater achievement in aural skills as they progress through our core courses.
PROJECT #2 (THEORY I & THEORY II)
Learning Outcomes (MuCT151/152):
Theory I, MuCT151, and Theory II, MuCT152, are the first two of four theory courses. This year particular attention was given to the following learning outcomes:
1. Independence. To demonstrate independence of thought and action in music performance and
2. Discrimination. To be able to make informed aesthetic judgments about music compositions
3. Analysis. To understand the styles and structures of music and relate this knowledge to its
4. Communication. To apply technical vocabulary to communicate with a community of other
5. Creativity. To apply musical knowledge to novel situations as well as develop a personal
interpretation of the repertoire.
These important outcomes are a challenge to assess in courses that are content intensive. We have attempted to address with issues during 2001-2002.
Assessments made (MuCT151/152):
Students in both courses were asked to compose a chorale/hymn as a capstone activity for the class. This activity will continue through Theory III (Fall 2002). This common writing activity allowed us to take "snap shots" of the students' abilities in the above learning outcomes. Each successive chorale/hymn grew in complexity and sophistication as the students learned more about harmonic structures. Each project goes threw several general stages:
1. Creating the framework (melody, bass, harmony, text)
2. Composing in four-voice structure and adding embellishments -- often several drafts
3. Performance of the chorales/hymns by students in small groups (octets)
4. Evaluating the performance (includes self-editing, evaluation of other students' chorales)
5. Rewrite based on performance and comments by students
6. Final copy of edited chorale/hymn.
Results & Conclusions (MuCT151/152):
We found that the quality (technical and musical) of the compositions improved as students actively went through stages 3-5. Most of the students took ownership of this activity and excelled in all learning outcomes because they heard their chorale/hymn performed by their classmates. Motivation increased and a healthy sense of pride in a job well done occurred during stages 3-5. Some students did not become so actively involved in these three stages. They showed slight improvement in only analysis, creativity, and independence. Initially most students were passive and reluctant to provide constructive comments about their peers' writing. This was overcome when instructors encouraged and prompted the students as they listened.
It is clear that stages 3-5 are vital for student improvement in these learning outcomes. There is a direct correlation between the quality of the compositions and how carefully the students listened and interacted during these three stages. Students also improved their sight singing and stylistic listening skills when they performed in small groups. As they sang many chorales in succession, they could quickly identify melodies and progressions that were interesting, singable, and musical. We found this activity to be an excellent connection between aural skills and theory. Students who demonstrated better critical listening skills progressed through the course (and this project) more successfully.
When final course grades were calculated, instructors generally found that students who struggled with this composition project also had difficulties in other components of the course (i.e., assignments, quizzes, exams). However, a small number of students, 10-20%, performed better on this project than on exams and tests. With the additional of this project, it appears that we were able to reach a higher achievement level for a few more students.
The results of this project reveal how important it is to do as much listening in theory class as possible. In summary, we found this activity to be an effective tool for measuring these learning outcomes. Without it, these important outcomes are often neglected (overshadowed by other outcomes such as competence) and left unmeasured.
Actions taken: (MuCT151/152):
This activity will continue to be a requirement in Theory I-III with special attention on stages 3-5. The theory faculty may consider emphasizing activities (similar to this) that allow instructors to evaluate independence, discrimination, analysis, communication, and creativity more easily. Assignments with group or collaborative activities will be encouraged. Course content may be modified to achieve this.
More time will be taken for critical listening activities in all theory courses. A special emphasis will be placed on active listening (before, during, and after seeing) as much as possible.
World Music Program
As our world music program now stands we have had one major graduate (student A). Another began her initial course in non-Western music this past spring (student B).
First, I will discuss student B. One of 45 undergraduates enrolled in our Music of Africa class, this student distinguished herself from the rest of her colleagues by her level of interest in, and sensitivity for, non-Western musical culture. This aspect of her personality was apparent from the complexity of her written assignments as well as contributions to class discussions. Not surprisingly, student B showed more interest in the class material than did many of her colleagues. This, I suspect, was because for her some connections to non-Western cultures had already been established before the class began. More than others, student B seemed to understand her place within the larger picture of world culture as a whole.
As for student A, although she graduated in 2001, she enrolled in the 2002 Ghana workshop. There, with remarkable maturity and confidence, she stepped briskly into the role of field worker and scholar. These traits were no doubt already part of her broader personality, but it was most gratifying to see her apply them so ably to the discipline of ethnomusicology. This fall student A will be entering the masters program at University of Texas at Austin. She will matriculate with a very strong background that will do much for the reputation of our young program at BGSU.
The paragraphs that follow contain some of the same answers as last year's report. Additions are in italics.
1. Please begin by listing your learning outcomes, and note which outcomes have received particular attention in the time period covered by this report.
The program's most important learning outcome is the ability to synthesize information from the various sub-fields of ethnomusicology. Progress is assessed through discussion and written projects.
Specific areas of work have included distinctions between world music and ethnomusicology, case studies of select world music cultures, music ethnography/anthropology, urban ethnomusicology, contextual approaches, religion and politics, composition and improvisation, gender and music, and popular music theories. As many of these fields are interrelated, we look for students to tie ideas across sub-fields.
2. Describe the assessments that have been made, noting especially the measures that were administered and the setting(s) where data were collected.
Assessment through discussion and writing projects has followed the student's developing ability to discuss the readings and larger issues within the field of ethnomusicology. In addition to synthesis, the student has been encouraged to creatively expand upon current ideas.
3. Present the results and conclusions you draw from your analysis of the assessments.
The student has successfully absorbed and synthesized the readings and issues presented therein.
Student B, while enthusiastic, is young in the field and will need some time to digest the more complex cultural issues being presented.
4. Report actions that have been taken based on the assessment findings. This last step is particularly important.
It is too early to think about global actions that would affect the major as a whole in response to a single student's progress. Yet, we are confident that we are on the right track.
Because it is currently a program of one, however, teaching has been tailored to strengthen perceived weaknesses in each student's understanding. Hopefully the program will grow and we will no longer have this luxury. In the meantime, however, the enrollment numbers are allowing us to look carefully at our students and develop the program in a positive manner.