CROOKE, Alexander Hew Dale

PhD University of Melbourne 2015 Pages:

Critical reflections on how research design and the attributes of a music program can affect investigations of the psychosocial wellbeing benefits of musical participation in mainstream schools

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This project explores the challenges of investigating the psychosocial wellbeing benefits of musical participation in mainstream schools. For a decade, Australian policy literature has claimed these benefits are to be expected outcomes of all students’ participation in school music programs (Australian Government, 2005). Despite these claims, there is little to no consistent evidence supporting a link between musical participation and psychosocial wellbeing in this context (Grimmett, Rickard, Gill, &​ Murphy, 2010; Rickard, Bambrick, &​ Gill, 2012). The reason for this inconsistency has been linked to both the research designs and methods used (Knox Anderson &​ Rickard, 2007), as well as the nature of musical participation investigated (Darrow, Novak, Swedberg, Horton, &​ Rice, 2009). Despite the identification of these limitations, researchers have continued to use designs that contain them. This can be attributed to a lack of critical engagement with approaches to research in this field, including assumptions about the efficacy of certain research methods, and the capacity for generic school music programs to promote wellbeing. This lack of critical engagement appears to account for the enduring inconsistency of findings in this area. This thesis aims to address this lack of engagement by critically appraising the research approaches used in two small studies that aimed to demonstrate the psychosocial wellbeing benefits of school-based music programs...

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