Diversity has increased significantly in today’s classrooms. This is a great opportunity but it also comes with challenges, especially the potential for damage caused by implicit biases and stereotype threat. A number of strategies to address these problems can be suggested.
The topic of this discussion/workshop is to have a conversation about how to best employ the “oral exam” or similar types of extemporaneous oral forms of assessment.
The impetus behind this proposal is my experience in taking part in the master’s and doctoral-level “comprehensive” oral exams administered at the institution where I work designed to measure the students’ competency in their major field as well as in music history and music theory. To me, occasions like this feels like a demonstration not only of students’ knowledge but also an opportunity for my colleagues outside of the music history to have a glimpse of how I and my colleagues teach music history.
I would also like to explore the possibility of using the format of the oral exam as a pedagogical tool in for undergraduate classes.
Next semester I am teaching two different sections of the same course. Each section caters to a different population (one for music major undergrads, the other for music major grads).
I’d be interested in hear strategies others have found helpful in preparing for this sort of teaching load. Some particulars that come to mind include weekly class prep and expectations about reading, listening, and writing assignments.
Undergraduates (and often graduate students) consistently struggle with the process of writing and researching a paper or essay. Finding a topic, devising effective search terms, using good resources and research tools in music, constructing an original thesis, and creating a compelling argument all prove to be significant challenges.
Questions for discussion would include: What is challenging for students in each of these steps, and why? How can we help? What have participants seen as effective means of breaking down the research process into smaller tasks, and what kinds of resources, activities, and guidance best helps students with research and writing?
Discussing these issues with other music educators would help to generate ideas, and we would all benefit from hearing the successes and flaws in the strategies we’ve tried.
Format: Software Demonstration
SunVox is a free tracker software that was developed for chiptune composition. Although chiptune music is not likely to appear in most music history classes, the interface offers several user-friendly tools for demonstrating basic parameters of electronic music: analog waveform generators, multisynth modules, phase modulation, and frequency modulation. Those looking for a visual aid for presenting 20th-century electronic music in a survey or seminar may find this program useful.
At last fall’s AMS meeting, the Pedagogy Study Group sponsored a roundtable titled “The End of the Undergraduate Music History Sequence,” which raised questions about alternatives to the traditional 2- to 4-semester chronological survey. This discussion would focus on alternative approaches to the undergraduate curriculum. It might also address the idea of a skills-based music history curriculum, by focusing on what skills undergraduate music majors can and should master through these types of courses.