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Magnus Dahlberg: Learning Across Contexts

Music Performance Students’ Construction of Learning Trajectories.

Field of study: Music Education


The research project is a study of music performance students who actively pursue learning goals through participation in multiple learning contexts both inside and outside higher music education. The empirical data consists of in-depth interviews and observations of two music performance students as they participate in curricular learning activities and self-initiated learning activities. The research was conducted during one semester where Dahlberg followed or “shadowed” the students in learning activities across multiple contexts. At the end of the observation period, Dahlberg conducted in-depth interviews with the students based on the observational data. The data material consists of transcribed audio recordings of observations, conversations and interviews.

The study employs a socio-cultural perspective on learning as intrinsic to participation in practice. Instead of focusing on participation and movements within isolated contexts and bounded practices, the analysis focuses on how students’ learning trajectories are constructed across practices and contexts. Focusing on personal learning trajectories offers an interesting alternative to more institutionally oriented perspectives on learning. The analysis shows how participation in different activities constitutes each other, and how the different activities both are given meaning as part of long-term learning trajectories and feed into the ongoing development of this trajectory. Building on the work of Vygotsky (Vygotsky 1978; 1986) and followers (Holland & Lachiotte jr 2007; Holland et al. 1998; Wertsch 2007) Dahlberg suggest that the construction of personal learning trajectories can be understood as facilitated by the use of personal repertoires of experiences, skills and cultural tools.

The findings suggest that personal concerns, stances and goals are crucial to an understanding of music students’ learning activities. Such personal meaning constructions were found to override some of the curricular arrangements of the higher music education institution the students were a part of. By going into the dynamics of the construction of learning trajectories as opposed to just describing learning biographies the analysis highlights the mutually constitutive relation between personal and cultural aspects of learning across contexts. Diverse learning contexts were found to be linked through the individual students’ participation according to personal learning concerns. The study aims at exploring not just what students are doing but why they organize their learning in particular ways and what enables them to take their learning trajectories in particular directions.

The dissertation

Title: Learning Across Contexts. Music Performance Students’ Construction of Learning Trajectories

The dissertation is a monograph, and it is written in English.

The dissertation is available from NMH's library. It is not available digitally.

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Published: Jan 4, 2017 — Last updated: Mar 9, 2023