Children composing in groups: Collaborative, Cooperative or Coactive learning?

Kagari Shibazaki, Nigel A. Marshall

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A common activity amongst many music teachers is to set a task for groups of children to work together to create and compose a piece of music on a theme either chosen by themselves, or by the teacher. Whilst group work has been shown to be effective in terms of enhancing children’s learning, it also raises a number of problems and issues for discussion. The first issue relates to the fact that there is very little published research which has explored if or not children working within a group, follow a particular form of process, and we are not really aware of the types of learning which individual children within the group engage in during the group composition activity. Second, as with group learning in all subjects, the music teacher is subsequently faced with the problem of assessment of the compositional outcome; namely do they assess and grade the output from the whole group, or do they grade each individual. If the former, what is the use of a single grade to share between 5 or 6 students, and if the latter how does the teacher grade each individual contribution – especially if the types of learning taking place are unclear. This study explores eight groups of children working on a musical composition. In total, eight groups of children representing four schools were given a group composition task by their teacher. Video recordings were made of all eight groups and later subjected to thematic analysis in order to establish if, or not they followed a particular process and secondly, to try and identify the types of learning which occurred in each group. Contribution was explored from the idea of collaborative, cooperative and coactive learning
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)65-79
Number of pages15
JournalProblems in Music Pedagogy
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2020


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