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Research in higher education has established a relationship between student approaches to learning and their perceptions of the learning environment. This study aims to make a contribution to music education literature by investigating undergraduate music students' perceptions of the learning context and their attitudes towards learning and performance. The research design included a large questionnaire survey followed up by 13 case study interviews and six focus groups. Survey participants were 170 undergraduate musicians studying in three distinctively different higher education institutions, encompassing classical, popular, jazz and Scottish traditional music genres. Findings suggest that the context of learning and the prevailing institutional culture are related to students' approaches to learning and performance. This paper focuses on findings related specifically to students' approaches to learning. Whilst statistically controlling for biases in gender and genre across the three institutions, differences were observed in students' self-assessment and perceived control over musical skills, as well as perceived relevance and pleasure obtained from engagement with musical activities. Our findings also highlight undergraduate musicians' perceptions of successful learning environments. A subsequent paper will focus on students' approaches to performance, in terms of musical self-efficacy and experiences of performance anxiety.




Papageorgi, I., Haddon, E., Creech, A., Morton, F., De Bezenac, C., Himonides, E., … Welch, G. (2010, December). Institutional culture and learning II: Inter-relationships between perceptions of the learning environment and undergraduate musicians’ attitudes to performance. Music Education Research.

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