Monash University
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Attribution theory and music learning in the school music classroom: A study of siblings

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posted on 2017-05-17, 02:12 authored by Henry, Nerelee
This research study will investigate the experience of new learning situations in high school music classes, from the perspective of the student involved. Furthermore, it will attempt to isolate the personal judgments made by these students in successful and unsuccessful learning experiences. Students are not always aware of these judgments or their affect on future learning with similar tasks. The study involves an investigation into the literature associated with Attribution Theory, in relation to achievement motivation. This project is an extension of a Masters minor thesis, which investigated new learning experiences of students within the music classroom. The initial study (Henry, 2005) was replicated with a specific focus on siblings. The addition of a semi-structured interview with a parent of the siblings was conducted to provide contextual information for the data of the siblings. Semi-structured interviews were conducted, at the beginning and conclusion of the research period. The research was conducted over two consecutive New South Wales State school terms, with participants self-recording details of new learning experiences that occurred during school music class. A set of guiding questions was attached to the inside of each journal, directing students’ thoughts towards attributional judgments. As with the initial study, the present data utilized qualitative methodology and a multiple case study design. The data was analysed using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA). The study sought to capture, in the participant’s own words, the thoughts and experiences of each individual when confronted with new learning that led to a successful or failure achievement situation. Attributional judgments made because of these success or failure experiences and future expectations of success or failure with similar tasks will be examined in the self-generated text and compared to the related literature on Attributional Theory. Data collected from siblings, at varying levels of educational experience highlight varying attributional habits and styles. Reflective attributional information provides insight related to learning strategy choice within new learning experiences. Less effective learning strategies are continually relied on when successful new learning occurs. Less experience as a learner can manifest in simple and restricted use of learning strategies. The employment of complex learning strategies is also present with self-regulated, mastery oriented learning behaviours. The learning beliefs and attributional examples provided by the parent within the family environment do influence siblings, in varying ways. Siblings can affect each other’s learning behaviours and in turn, individual attributional judgments. The contentions of the study are that attributions made about successful or unsuccessful learning experiences find support in the Attribution Theory as presented in the related literature. Attributional queries can provide educators with invaluable information about each students’ individual learning behaviours and also much more information about their learning beliefs. With more insight into the learning process, educators gain more opportunities to enhance attitudes to learning and correct detrimental judgments, which disable a student’s chance to experience achievement in the learning context of the classroom. By providing students with correct knowledge about their successful and unsuccessful learning experiences, educators give students more control over their own learning. This can only lead to a more student-centred learning environment and mastery-orientated learning behaviours. In other words, educators can assist students to experience achievement as lifelong learners.


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Principal supervisor

Jane Southcott

Year of Award


Department, School or Centre

Music Education


Doctor of Philosophy

Degree Type



Faculty of Education

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