University of Leicester
U123011.pdf (11 MB)

Aesthetic perception in music education : assessing pupils' compositions

Download (11 MB)
posted on 2014-12-15, 10:43 authored by Elizabeth Jane. Mellor
The aim of the thesis is to make explicit the criteria of aesthetic appraisal: how teachers and pupils perceive how sounds are shaped into musical form, the values they hold and the language they use. The participants in the fieldwork were 154 children from ages 9-13 years (spanning upper Key Stage 2-3 of the National Curriculum) and 62 teachers on respective generalist/specialist teacher training courses. The research approach is constructivist yet the design combines both quantitative and qualitative methodologies deriving from research in aesthetic education, music education, the psychology of music and personal construct psychology. In Part I [Pupils' Perceptions of Compositions], the quantitative results show significant differences with respect to age, gender and categories of perception. The qualitative results give a more differentiated picture with examples of the language used. In Part II [Teachers' Perceptions of Pupils' Compositions], the quantitative results confirm trends emerging in the qualitative data to show similarities/differences in the way specialist/non-specialist teachers of music use criteria when assessing children's' compositions.;The findings suggest that the effects of training predispose music teachers to assess compositions in a technical way using a highly specialised language whilst generalist teachers and children assess compositions in a global way using a rich metaphoric language. In addition, generalists use criteria for assessment more consistently than specialist teachers. To a certain extent these differences may account for the decline in effectiveness of music education between Key Stage 2 and Key Stage 3. On the basis of this research one way forward for music education might be to address the importance of how teachers and children form aesthetic perceptions so that criteria for assessing compositions can be shared, mutually respected and meaningfully applied.


Date of award


Author affiliation


Awarding institution

University of Leicester

Qualification level

  • Doctoral

Qualification name

  • PhD



Usage metrics

    University of Leicester Theses


    No categories selected



    Ref. manager