The efficacy of SmartMusic(RTM) assessment as a teaching and learning tool
This study examined the effects of SmartMusic® assessment on student music performance while integrating research-based teaching and learning components. Over approximately three weeks, 46 high school band students (N=46) received five 15-minute teacher-led music lessons, totaling 75 minutes of instruction. Two groups, teacher-led instruction or teacher-led instruction using SmartMusic® assessment, were determined by randomly splitting pairs of matched-subjects within woodwind, brass, or mallet percussion families. Constant for both groups, instruction and evaluation materials included teaching and learning practice rubrics, a criterion-referenced performance evaluation form, and short lyrical and technical etudes complemented with respective skill development exercises. Pre- and post-test measures of student music performance, survey information, and researcher observations provided quantitative, qualitative, and empirical data. Music performance scores (MPS) from three independent judges for lyrical and technical etude recordings provided data evaluating artistic and technical aspects of student performance. Similarly, the technical skills scores (TSS), a subset of the MPS, explored the effect of music instruction upon technical aspects of performance. Student survey data and researcher observations provided measures of student motivation and efficacy. Separate analyses of covariance (ANCOVAs), with pretest music performance score covariates, explored the relationship of performance data relative to instruction group. The lyrical etude TSS and MPS were not statistically different between instruction groups. However, there were significant differences in the technical etude TSS and MPS between groups. The SmartMusic® assessment group showed larger mean score gains in all music performance measures for technical and lyrical etudes, though not all differences proved statistically significant. The data suggest that the SmartMusic® assessment program positively affected music performance skills, especially in technically oriented music passages. More study is necessary to determine the program's potential impact on lyrical musical passages. Based on performance data and student survey results, SmartMusic® assessment is an appropriate tool for student assessment, facilitating integration of teaching and learning components. Combining education theory and pedagogical practice with technology remains an important and educationally sound step to enhance learning. Students' initial impressions of SmartMusic® assessment indicated motivation to use the program. More study is needed to explore the long-term appeal and effects on student achievement.