Promoting professionalism: Developing self-assessment in a popular music program
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Higher music education usually has the development of professional musicians as one of its core goals, a primary learning outcome, though the meaning of this goal may vary between institutions. The ability to conduct independent and autonomous assessment of work while it is in production is one of the characteristics of professionalism, though the intentional development of this skill is not necessarily present in higher music education. In many contexts, degree programs are now required to be able to demonstrate the achievement of their learning outcomes through their assessment processes. Self-assessment has been included among a variety of assessment process in an Australian popular music program for more than a decade, and since 2011, the main self-assessment activity has been conducted using a purpose-built on-line assessment tool. While the primary motivation for the development of the tool was to enhance the student experience of a complex assessment regime, a collateral benefit has been ready access to detailed data on all aspects of the process. The development of students' ability to make systematic judgements about the quality of their own work in the context of their degree program can now be evaluated, and from the end of 2013, cohorts that have used the on-line system for the entire duration of their degree can be tracked through each of the six semesters of their program, to establish how their self-assessment abilities have changed over time. Data on the performance of various aspects of the assessment process will be presented, particularly focusing on comparing self-assessment with assessment conducted by panels that include a number of students and a teacher. The marks awarded by the assessment panels constitute 60% of the course result and are routinely cross-referenced with the marks awarded by the teacher panel member, the assumption being that a close correlation between these marks demonstrates validity. Comparing self-assessments with panel assessments provides a measure of the students' ability to apply the same criteria and standards to their own work as will be applied by the members of assessment panels later in the process. It was hypothesised at the time this process was designed that students' abilities to conduct valid self-assessment would be improved by engaging with the process in each of the six semesters of the program, and that students should perform this task better as they progress through the program. Current data enable this hypothesis to be tested.
Proceedings of the 20th International Seminar of the ISME Commission on the Education of the Professional Musician
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