Dissertation Index

Author: Buehrer, Theodore E.

Title: An Alternative Pedagogical Paradigm for Aural Skills: An Examination of Constructivist Learning Theory and its Potential for Implementation into Aural Skills Curricula

Institution: Indiana University

Begun: December 1997

Completed: December 1998


Throughout the twentieth-century, the delivery of academic instruction in many, if not most, disciplines has followed a single epistemological model. Various terms have been used to describe this model--behaviorist, objectivist, positivist--though each may be defined in essentially the same way. Simply put, the goal of instruction in this traditional setting is to help the learner master the important facts, attributes, and relationships inherent in a given knowledge domain. The delivery of instruction in the field of music theory, including the teaching of aural skills, is no exception.

Recently, a new epistemological framework has surfaced which stands in stark constrast to the traditional model. This alternative theory of how we come to know is called constructivism, and although it is not in itself an instructional design strategy, it has had significant influence on the design of instruction in many fields and on many levels, from primary school mathematics to medical school curricula.

This study will examine three critical issues. First, I will examine the fundamental tenets of constructivist learning theory. Second, once the theory has been laid out, I will illustrate various forms of its implementation through an examination of several instructional models based on its fundamental principles. Third, I will demonstrate that, while the tenets which underlie constructivism have had some impact on traditional aural skills teaching strategies at an intuitive level, in recent years the influence of constructivism has become even more overt. I will attempt to synthesize these ideas and make further suggestions and observations concerning how this theory of learning may lead to an alternative methodology for the teaching of aural skills.

Keywords: pedagogy, aural skills, constructivism, learning theory, music theory curriculum


Chapter 1: Introduction; statement of intent

Chapter 2: Constructivism: an explanation and review of relevant literature

Chapter 3: The implementation of constructivist principles: an examination of three instructional models

Chapter 4: Constructivism in music theory pedagogy: a review of recent ideas

Chapter 5: Toward a constructivist approach to aural skills pedagogy: a synthesis

Chapter 6: Conclusions; suggestions for further study


Ted Buehrer
748 Ridge Crest Court
Bloomington, IN 47401

     Return to dissertations