Recent debate within the domain of music education has focussed on issues of discriminating between higher and lower quality learning outcomes. Much of this debate has centred on the language of music education, particularly in giving both substantive and psychometric meaning to terms as diverse as ‘the craft of music’, ‘musical skills’, ‘originality’, ‘musically convincing’, and ‘convincing development of ideas’. Moreover, in the search for standardisation in music assessment, much of what is conventionally described in assessment criteria reduces musical assessment to quantifiable competencies often not indicative of the higher-order musical thinking underlying the production of these competencies. That is, assessment often fails to resolve the dilemma of the ‘parts’ and the ‘whole’. In this paper we propose an assessment framework based upon a synthesis of current text processing theory with Biggs and Collis’ (1982) SOLO Taxonomy. We propose that musical assessment should primarily be sensitive to the quality and structure of music thinking. We argue that musical learning, like other domains of learning, can be analysed for evidence of structural quality and coherence, and that such evaluations may provide viable diagnostic as well as summative information about musical outcomes.
Research Studies in Music Education Vol. 22, Issue 1, p. 2-13