Assessment discussion from #mufuNI Feb 2014


The following notes are from a discussion session at the Northern Ireland #mufuNI conference.

We started by sharing some of the good practice amongst the group- How do we assess?

Example 1

Literacy tasks are a focus across the school. In music students assess previous learning and write about themselves and their musical interests. They also do instrument research.

3 Levels in assessment eg. when playing a keyboard:

  • Play RH only 1/2 tune
  • Play Full tune with RH
  • Play both hands together single finger chords

This works because it is challenging every student to get into competition with themselves not each other. Grades have gone up as a result.

Currently using A. B. C. D to assess.

Example 2

In this approach, teachers are giving extra marks for creativity, if not there is a danger of it becoming a technical test.

Example 3 (from Republic of Ireland, totally different system.)

Currently tested through written exams at the end of the year including having to compose a melody with chords without hearing it. They are bringing in a new assessment system in the near future.

Example 4

The teacher has developed a set of difficulty levels for all of the instruments to bring their approach in line with English and Maths criteria

Example 5

One issue here has been tracking dates prescribed by the school which don’t match with assessment times of the year in music.

Example 6 (special school)

Teachers are assessing the value of music, not necessarily skills. eg. working together, sitting near to the group.

Example 7

Departments are being set targets in line with other data that comes from other subjects.

Example 8

Teachers in music are assessing along the lines of exam boards

Some of the challenges 

  • Time/workload and sheer numbers of students seen
  • Assessing at times set by the school that don’t coincide with music assessments
  • Baseline-what and how?

We watched the video on this page which shows a group working on an informal learning project. This example does not show the teacher supporting learning, therefore is completely independent work other than the intervention you can see on the video.

Having watched the video, we identified some things we could assess in MF work:

  • Listening
  • Team work
  • Matching sounds to the original
  • Creativity

Each of these could then be broken down into categories based on what teachers observe them doing. This then becomes a way to ‘level’ each area.

Something to try (with thanks to Professor Martin Fautley for getting this idea started at our #mufu2014 conference Jan 2014)

1. Identify the musical learning taking place ie. devise your own criteria based on the musical learning you observe taking place

2. Think of a top, middle and lower criteria within this

For example if you chose listening you might identify:

low band: Hearing the basic features in the music relevant to own part

Middle band: Hearing the basic features in the music and responding

Top band: Hearing the basic features in the music, responding, adapting and refining their part as a result

We agreed we would give this some thought and see if we might consider adapting the approaches shared at the start in the light of having watched a group at work and teasing out the musical learning at the heart of it.


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