2001-2002 CILA Associates

Back to Faculty Associates Archives

The 2001-2002 CILA Associates

Peter Hamlin (Music) and Dolores Peters (History) will join the Center as the first group of Associates. During the academic year 2001-2002, Peter and Dolores will each work on a teaching and technology project and they will assist with the activities of the Center. Their appointment is made possible by a grant from the Mellon Foundation, which supports a range of teaching and technology activities.

Peter Hamlin, Associate Professor of Music

“Interactive drills and games for music theory and aural skills classes”

I wanted to develop multi-media tools for students to work with that integrate sight (score reading), sound (hearing music), and touch (playing a keyboard). Interactive drills and games can be entertaining for students, more of a motivation to study than just practicing on their own. They provide constant feedback, and the level of difficulty can be adjusted. I’m creating drills and games using JavaScript and Director, assigning them in my classes, and assessing whether students feel these learning tools are helpful, and if they seem to be improving the students’ skills.

  • Lack of interactivity: Having students write examples at the blackboard can be cumbersome. Traditional homework assignments get corrected only after some time. Technology ought to be able to allow students to interact more immediately with what they are learning, with each other, and with the teacher in musical ways.
  • Lack of integration: The traditional textbook/blackboard classroom is problematic for teaching music theory because sound, score and keyboard are all separate. This is especially difficult for students who are weak in skills like score reading, keyboard and aural imagination. I believe technology has the potential to connect these elements in a way that will bring an integrated understanding of music to students more easily.
  • Difficulty of individualized drills and testing in large classes: In a traditional class, it is very hard to provide the kind of individual attention, discipline and support needed to master music skills in an optimum way for each student. Technology makes it possible for drills to move at the student’s pace, to record regular practice, to test the student when he or she is ready, to provide constant feedback about how well the student is doing, to emphasize areas that need more practice, and to blend audio (sound), visual (notation) and tactile (keyboard) elements to best reinforce the students’ comprehensive learning and understanding.
  • Difficulty of obtaining and distributing the widest range of resource materials: Traditional support materials for music instruction are quite limited. Our anthologies are very expensive and are woefully non-diverse (especially in terms of gender and ethnicity). Making photocopies can be expensive and cumbersome. Examples in the text are useful but one always wishes for more variety. There is a growing number of public- domain and otherwise copyright cleared materials (scores, sound files and MIDI files) on the Internet that could be used as resources in the classroom, materials that would be more cost effective and more varied than what we typically have at hand.

One of the lessons I have learned from this project is that working with technology can provide exciting new tools for teaching, and can also force you to rethink how traditional tools can best be used.

Dolores Peters, Associate Professor of History

“Doing History” in the Survey Course: Creating Authentic Opportunities with a Virtual Archive”

Can a survey course in history both provide a traditional emphasis on foundational content and broad coverage and impart a sense of the discipline of history itself? This project identifies three distinctive characteristics of new instructional technology: 1) its scope and efficiency in providing access to resources, 2) its capacity to create virtual learning communities, and 3) its capacity to mimic the recursive nature of historical research and writing, to overcome constraints associated with survey courses: lecture format, class size, and atomistic learners. The project’s keystone is a Virtual Archive, a self-contained virtual environment, tied to activities both in and outside the classroom, where students both gather information and produce knowledge–a virtual site for “doing history,” complete with intellectual dissonance.

I found that 80% (24 of 30) of the students responding to an assessment questionnaire agreed that the Virtual Archive represented “value added” to their course experience. In addition, 60% (18/30) agreed that there should have been more use of the Virtual Archive during class time; 57% (17/30) agreed that there should have been more use of the Virtual Archive on assignments. In identifying the model most closely describing their use of the Virtual Archive, 57% of the students (17/30) indicated a recursive model (the most sophisticated option, where the cycle of research and discussion is repeated at least once); 23% (7/30) indicated an add-on model (the least sophisticated option, where sources from the Virtual Archive were “plugged into” projects essentially completed on the basis of print sources); and 20% (6/30) indicated an integrative model (an intermediate option integrating research, discussion, and writing, but with no repeat of the research cycle). I am currently preparing my work for publication.