Learning to compose: an investigation into Key Stage 3 and Key Stage 4 composing activities at secondary school .
Cardiff Metropolitan University
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During my Initial Teacher Training, I questioned the extent to which pupils' experience of composing at Key Stage 3 (KS3) prepares them adequately for completing GCSE composition coursework. Pupils lacked confidence in and motivation for composing, often delaying beginning their composition coursework and limitíng the time spent on it to allocated lesson periods. Much literature discusses creativity, Information and Communication Technologies (ICT), improvisation, informal learning and group composing, often focusing on specific age groups without considering findings in the broader context. Therefore, this case study explored the ongoing process of compositional development, investigating KS3 and GCSE composing activities simultaneously at a secondary school in south Wales. Observations, pupil questionnaires, semistructured interviews and document reviews explored the processes involved in teaching pupils how to compose. My research questions facilitated an evaluation of pupils'transition from composing at KS3 to GCSE: 1. To what extent do composing activities at GCSE differ from those at KS3? 2. How does the teacher's role in composing activities at GCSE compare with his/her role at KS3? 3. How is ICT integrated in GCSE composing activities in comparison with those at KS3? Whilst KS3 composing activities incorporated a range of genres, this study highlighted an emphasis on generating short ideas in group/pair/whole-class activities whereas at GCSE, pupils were expected to develop ideas competently and compose independently for the first time. Rigorous assessment practices led to teacher-led composing activities at KS3. However, my study suggested that a shift towards autonomy at GCSE had a negative effect on pupils' productivity. Evidence regarding the integration of ICT demonstrated a tendency to remodel existing KS3 composing activities rather than tailoring new ones towards developing music technology skills. Furthermore, evidence suggested that pupils reduce the range of ICT by the time they reach Year 11.
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