MUS862: Seminar in Music Curriculum & Methods

Michigan State University

College of Music

Music Education Area

Course Syllabus

Summer 2019

Days and Times: MWF, 8:00-9:50am



Instructor: Mitchell Robinson, Ph.D.

Associate Professor and Chair of Music Education

School phone: 355.7555 

Office: MPB 208






I want this course to function as a seminar—that is, collegial, democratic, and full of thoughtful discussion and lively debate.  While I will serve as the instructor, and, at times, discussion leader, I hope that the group dynamic will be one of mutual responsibility for learning.  The syllabus, therefore, will provide a basic framework for the course, but we will remain open and flexible during the course of the semester as we learn together.  





Flinders, D. J., & Thornton, S. J. (2017). The curriculum studies reader (5th ed.). New York : Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group.


(Link to purchase on Amazon:


Walker, Decker F. & Soltis, Jonas F. (2009). Curriculum and aims (5th ed). Teachers College Press, New York.


(Link to purchase on Amazon:




Selected readings from Colwell, R. and Richardson, C. (2002).  The New Handbook of Research on Music Teaching and Learning (New York: Oxford). 




Assignments (see below for details):


Class Questions (required, not graded): for each class session

For each class, you are to write 1 or 2 questions that arise from the day's assigned readings, previous readings, or your experience as a music teacher. Email your questions to me before each class meeting.


Questions may take multiple forms:

  • multiple choice questions (4 option response) based on one or more of the readings for the class, or a research study or article that you have read in preparation for the class. Send the questions to me in the body of an email message, not as an attachment, the night before each class meeting. It is my hope that this will solidify learning for you each week.
  • short answer questions pose a question that can be answered by a brief written response
  • essential questions are musings, wonderments, or wild thoughts that are inspired or come from the day's readings, class discussions, or one's own experiences and ponderings

Treasure Hunts (3): Persons, Ideas and Books: July 1, July 12, July 22


We will require more comprehensive information than the text provides on the following persons, ideas, texts from curriculum history. On the first day of class, assignments will be made from the following list. Each participant will have a few terms for which to be responsible.


July 1:  1828-1927


Charles Eliot (and the Committee of Ten) 

Franklin Bobbitt* 

G. Stanley Hall 

William Kilpatrick

Edward L. Thorndike 

John Dewey* 


Faculty Psychology

Social efficiency 

Social Darwinism 


Influential Texts:

Bobbitt “The Curriculum” 1918 

Charters “Curriculum Construction” 1923 

Dewey “The School and Society” 1899 

Dewey “The Child and the Curriculum” 1902 

Kilpatrick “The Project Method” 1918


July 12:  1928-1969


Ralph Tyler 

Jerome Bruner 

Benjamin Bloom 

Robert Gagne 



Behaviorism and Behavioral Objectives 

Structure of the Disciplines 

Bloom’s Taxonomies 

Influential Texts:

Dewey “Experience and Education” 1938 

Caswell and Campbell “Curriculum Development” (1935) 

Tyler “Basic Principles of Curriculum and Instruction” (1949) 

Bruner “The Process of Education” (1960) 

Taba “Curriculum Development: Theory and Practice” (1962) 

Gagne “The Conditions of Learning” (1965)


July 22:  1970-1979


Joseph J. Schwab 

Dwane E. Huebner 

James B. Macdonald 

Philip Jackson 





Journal of Curriculum Theory 

Influential Texts:

Tanner and Tanner “Curriculum Development: Theory into Practice” (1975) 

Posner and Rudnitsky “Course Design: A Guide to Curriculum Development for Teachers” (1978) 

Eisner “The Educational Imagination” (1979) 


Directions: Compile information as outlined below, typed with plenty of white space on the page. Try to limit information presented for each term to 1 page of bullet points only. You should consult a minimum of 3 resources, drawn from both text and internet sources. Please try to include an application of the assigned person, idea or text’s essential point(s) to music education teaching, theory or practice.


For persons: Give the individual’s biography in chronological order; highlight significant achievements, writings, theories, etc.  List works consulted.


For ideas: Describe the essence of the idea and the most prominent figures associated with it. List works consulted.


For texts:  Provide an outline of the text; include a brief synopsis of the underlying pedagogical or philosophical frameworks.


Methodology Review: July 17 & 19

Investigate one of the major curricular approaches in music education.  


You will choose or be assigned to a group that will create a presentation on one of the following methodological approaches: Kodaly, Orff Schulwerk, Dalcroze/Eurhythmics, Edwin E. Gordon/Music Learning Theory (MLT), Suzuki/Suzuki Talent Education, or another method of your choice (with instructor's permission). If you are interested in presenting on another method or approach, please let me know before beginning work on this assignment.


On July 17 & 19, students will make their presentations to the class. Each presentation should include the following:

• A one-page class handout that highlights the characteristics of the selected approach 

• A brief biographical sketch of the main figure(s) representing the approach

• A brief discussion of the primary tenets of the approach, being sure to include information on the philosophy behind the approach and the major pedagogical assumptions that underlie this approach to teaching (sequencing, techniques, syllable systems used, repertoire, etc.)

• A brief  “mock lesson” in the spirit of the method; you may choose to teach a rote song or a game, for example


Each presentation will take no more than 10 minutes. Imagine that you are making your presentation—in an abbreviated version—to your school administration or instructional colleagues. Each student must turn in a 2-3 page written overview of the concepts and ideals of the methodology on the day of the presentation. (15% paper, 10% presentation)


Book Review & Poster Session: July 24 & 26 in class


Final: Curriculum Unit/Project/Activity: Lightning Talks presented in class on July 29, 31 & Aug. 2; Written version of final project due on last day of class.


Step 1: Identify an idea for a music curriculum unit, project, or activity you would like to introduce to one of your classes or ensembles this school year. Some examples:

  • A unit introducing improvisation to middle school band students, culminating in a performance in which every student is able to improvise over a familiar song.
  • A songwriting “club” for 6th graders.
  • A project exploring the music traditions and cultures of the local community, identifying “culture bearers” and resulting in a school-community festival celebrating these musical traditions.
  • A “cover song” unit for high school choir students in which they create a “mash-up” combining two popular songs that is then performed on a concert.
  • A project investigating the phenomenon of "protest songs", studying the historical origins of these forms of musical protest, and resulting in the creation of protest songs that focus on current issues of interest to the students in the class.

These are only suggestions; other ideas will be welcomed. For additional ideas, see:


Step 2: Design the unit or project. Create a “scope and sequence” guide of the curriculum unit or project, with a minimum of 3 lesson plans, including a brief philosophical/theoretical/methodological framework or rationale, materials, objectives, instructional sequence, and assessment strategies or tools. You may use the Lesson Information Form template provided below or design your own way of presenting this material.


Step 3:  Report your study in the following forms:  

1. Curriculum unit/project scope and sequence guide; 

2. A poster or electronic poster (PowerPoint, Keynote, Prezi) to exhibit at the final Lightning Talk. 


Lightning Talks due July 29, 31 & August 2; Written version of Final Project due on last day of class.  (35% of final grade)




Scope & Sequence Guide: Lesson Information Form


Brief philosophical/theoretical framework or rationale, materials, objectives/instructional sequence, and assessment tools


Directions: Use a new form for each of the three lessons taught. The form is an option to help you organize lesson information. Feel free to include any other forms or resources that demonstrate your ability to prepare for and plan instruction (bubble plans, annotated scores, notes, etc.)


Philosophical/Theoretical/Methodological Framework (no more than a paragraph or two):









Lesson # (x/3): ____/___ Date of lesson: ____________


Objectives: Students will demonstrate their ability to or understand…





Instructional Sequence: Activities/Strategies*: indicate how the lesson addresses each of the three required competencies (creating, performing, assessing), if applicable







Assessment Strategies (attach copies of relevant documents or forms):






Class Groupings: Circle all that apply:

Full Group

Small Group(s)





*C = Creating, P = Performing, A = Assessing (Note all that apply.)


**Using a short phrase, identify assessment strategy used. (For example, “written

worksheet”, “vocal performance assessment”, “instrumental performance rubric”, etc.)


Cite sources for recordings, books and any published materials used in this lesson.



What are Lightning Talks? (from CMS)


Lightning Talks differ substantially from a delivered paper. They are presentations in which imagery supports the message. They are not simply PowerPoint or Keynote slides with bullet points to deliver content, but are a creative endeavor through which thinking is supported and made manifest. Lightning Talks are brief, 5-minute presentations that focus on a single topic, example, idea, project, or technique. Lightning Talks do not attempt to cover all aspects of their subject matter, but present one facet of the idea clearly and succinctly. 


For an example of an award-winning Lightning Talk, given in 3 minutes, 30 seconds, please watch the following YouTube video:


For further information on giving Lightning Talks, please access:


For our purposes, think of your Lightning Talk as something that you might present at a school board meeting, for a parent group or music booster presentation, or offer as a pre-concert talk for parents. Don't be too concerned with explaining all of the details regarding your policy issue or topic--get to the "big picture" right away, and keep the discussion focused tightly on your main point. Think about your intended audience and craft your message so that it is easily understandable and jargon-free.


Some guidelines:

  • your talk must be no longer than 5 minutes, and use no more than 8 slides
  • focus on a single topic or issue
  • think "Ted Talk" meets "speed dating”

Tips for an entertaining, joyous, and informative lightning talk:

  • Get to the point quickly; invest no more than one minute on setup and background.
  • Select a relevant topic for the audience.
  • Share one great idea.
  • Tell a story; storytelling is universal and we all have a story to tell.
  • Show passion for an idea; spread your joy.
  • Share information but resist the temptation to explain in detail.
  • Use more pictures and fewer words; if you use text, make sure it is at least 50 pts.
  • Plan on not using the first and the last slides, time flies when you’re having fun.
  • Don’t forget that the audience is on your side.
  • Remember that delivery is as important as content.
  • Practice, practice, practice.
  • Practice with a timer (there’s an app for that).

End strong and “power wrap” your lightning talk… restate your one great idea.





It is my goal to create a family-friendly atmosphere in our class at all times. The policy described here is thus, a reflection of my own beliefs and commitments to student, staff and faculty parents. 


1. All exclusively breastfeeding babies are welcome in class as often as is necessary to support the breastfeeding relationship. Because not all women can pump sufficient milk, and not all babies will take a bottle reliably, I never want students to feel like they have to choose between feeding their baby and continuing their education. You and your nursing baby are welcome in class anytime.


2. For older children and babies, I understand that minor illnesses and unforeseen disruptions in childcare often put parents in the position of having to chose between missing class to stay home with a child and leaving him or her with someone you or the child does not feel comfortable with. While this is not meant to be a long-term childcare solution, occasionally bringing a child to class in order to cover gaps in care is perfectly acceptable.


3. I ask that all students work with me to create a welcoming environment that is respectful of all forms of parenting status.


4. In all cases where babies and children come to class, I ask that you sit close to the door so that if your little one needs special attention and is disrupting learning for other students, you may step outside until their need has been met. Non-parents in the class, please reserve seats near the door for your parenting classmates.



5. Finally, I understand that often the largest barrier to completing your coursework once you become a parent is the tiredness many parents feel in the evening once children have finally gone to sleep. The struggles of balancing school, childcare and often another job are exhausting. I hope that you will feel comfortable disclosing your student-parent status to me. This is the first step in my being able to accommodate any special needs that arise. While I maintain the same high expectations for all student in my classes regardless of parenting status, I am happy to problem solve with you in a way that makes you feel supported as you strive for school-parenting balance. My goal as your teacher is for you to be successful--both academically, and as a person; and that includes being the best parent you can be. 


Course Assessment

Attendance/Class Participation: Students are expected to attend all classes. More than two absences may result in the course grade being lowered .5, and .5 for each additional absence beyond that. If you have an unusual situation that results in extended absence, please contact me so that I am aware of the situation and can make arrangements to meet your instructional needs. In addition, students are expected to have prepared for the class seminar by reading the assigned material and preparing personal responses and commentaries. There will be frequent class activities based on the readings that require participation, and students are expected to be prepared. Grades will be affected by unexcused absence from class and the amount and quality of class participation and discussion.


Student work must be turned in on time.  Grades on individual assignments and projects may be reduced by .5 for every day that they are late.



Class participation, discussion 10%

Treasure Hunts 10%

Book Review 20%

Methodology Review 25%

Final Project 35%


Failure to complete any portion of the above requirements may result in failure of the course.


Note:  Students not handing in assignments on time will receive an “Incomplete” until the assignments are submitted. You may revise written work once before the end of the term, attaching copies of previous versions, so long as the original assignment was handed in on time. Final and pre-final versions of all assignments must be submitted as attachments via email (preferred format: Microsoft Word for Macintosh, sent to:



Suggested Course Calendar (subject to change)


Note: Much of the course’s design will be fluid, so let’s consider the following calendar to be a tentative document subject to mutual negotiation. What appears below is a sort of advanced planner with suggested topics and readings; we may decide to follow other avenues as they emerge. I am always open to negotiation. In other words, be ready to “roll with the changes”! 


• Readings are to be completed for the date on which they appear.  For example, the reading by Franklin Bobbit, “Scientific Method in Curriculum Making” is to be read for the June 28 class session.


Reader = Curriculum Studies Reader

Aims = Curriculum and Aims



Date                      Topics                                                  Readings & Assignments




Readings & Assignments


June 26


Course Overview and Introduction

§  Essential Questions and Tensions, General Orientation to Curriculum Studies

Make Treasure Hunt assignments

June 28


Curricular Foundations in General Education: Historical Orientations to Curriculum, Pt.1

Read: from Aims,

  • Chs. 1-2

 From Reader,

  • Franklin Bobbit, “Scientific Method in Curriculum Making”, Ch. 1, pp. 11-18
  • John Dewey, “My Pedagogic Creed”, Ch. 3, pp. 33-40

July 1


Historical Orientations to Curriculum, Pt.2


Poles of Educational Values

Read: from Aims,

  • Ch. 3

 From Reader,

Treasure Hunt #1 presented in class


July 3


Conceptualizing the Curriculum

Read: from Aims,

  • Ch. 4

 From Reader,

  • Jane Addams, "The Public School and the Immigrant Child”, Ch. 5

July 5

(Re)Conceptualizing the Curriculum

From Reader,

  • William Pinar, “The Reconceptualization of Curriculum Studies”, Ch. 14, pp. 167-175.


  • Hanley & Montgomery, “Challenges to Music Education: Curriculum Reconceptualized”
  • Barrett, “Planning for Understanding: A Reconceptualized View of the Music Curriculum”

Book Review choice due

July 8

Curriculum Writing & Making


Music Ed Periods Handout


Essential Questions from Chapter 5 of Curriculum & Aims


Curricular Tensions: Progressives & Traditionalists


Pinar’s views on kinds of “curricularists”

Read: from Aims,

  • Ch. 5

 From Reader,

  • James Popham “Objectives”, Ch. 10, pp. 115-128.
  • Elliott Eisner, “Educational Objectives—Help or Hindrance?”, Ch. 11, pp. 129-136.

From Downloads,

  • Conway, “Curriculum Writing in Music”
  • Wells, “Designing Curricula Based on the Standards”


Reflection over prediction, or why we should write our lesson plans after the lesson

July 10


Critiquing Curricular Practices



Freire Day


Read: From Reader,

  • Paulo Freire, “The Adult Literacy Process as Cultural Action for Freedom”, Ch. 15, pp. 177-192.

From Downloads,

July 12

Critiquing Curricular Practices

Read: From Aims,

  • Ch. 6

From Reader,

  • Elliot Eisner, “What Does it Mean to Say a School is Doing Well?”, Ch. 24, pp. 313-322
  • Nell Noddings, “The Common Core Standards”, Ch. 32, pp. 449-460.


Treasure Hunt #2 presented in class

July 15


Curriculum Reform

Read: from Aims,

  • Ch. 7

 From Reader,

  • Wayne Au, "High-Stakes Testing and Curriculum Control," Ch. 23, pp. 295-312.



  • Read a chapter of your choosing from Diane Ravitch's "Reign of Error"; prepare a brief summary of the chapter to share in class. (If you are unable to or would rather not purchase the book [$4.95 for the e-book version on Amazon], you may read one of the first two chapters here.)

July 17


Curriculum Designs in Music and Research in Curriculum

Read: Chapter 8 “Contemporary Curriculum Practices and Their Theoretical Bases” in the New Handbook, ed. Colwell and Richardson


From Downloads,

  • Gordon, “Taking a Look at Music Learning Theory”
  • National Core Music Standards (new)

Methodology Presentations in class

July 19


Curriculum and Methodological Approaches in Music Education

From Downloads,

Methodology Presentations in class

July 22


Treasure Hunt #3 presented in class


July 24

 Current Issues in Music Education Policy & Practice

 Book Reviews

July 26

Assessment Issues in Music Education

Book Reviews

July 29




Lightning Talks

July 31


Lightning Talks

August 2

Final Class

Lightning Talks, if needed






Poles of Educational Values.doc
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Adobe Acrobat Document 6.9 MB
Handbook Ch. 8.pdf
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Music Education Periods.pdf
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The Application of Critical Pedagogy to Music Teaching and Learning: A Literature Review
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Music Education as Transformative Practice: Creating New Frameworks for Learning Music through a Freirian Perspective
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Microsoft Word Document 27.5 KB
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862Final Project.doc
Microsoft Word Document 31.5 KB

Treasure Hunt #1

Treasure Hunt #1 Social Darwinism.docx
Microsoft Word Document 7.4 KB
Bobbitt, The Curriculum
Treasure Hunt #1 - Scott.docx
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Charters, Curriculum Construction
Social Efficiency - Treasure Hunt.docx
Microsoft Word Document 29.9 KB
Social Efficiency - Treasure Hunt.docx
Microsoft Word Document 29.9 KB
ZCarlson Treasure Hunt 1 Charles Eliot:C
Microsoft Word Document 162.6 KB
Dewey, The Child and the Curriculum
Troyer Treasure Hunt 1.docx
Microsoft Word Document 20.0 KB
Graphic Organizer - Carnevale - Treasure
Adobe Acrobat Document 246.4 KB
The School and Society - Shanahan.docx
Microsoft Word Document 19.8 KB
Treasure Hunt #1 - G. Stanley Hall.docx
Microsoft Word Document 15.4 KB
Holovach John Dewey.docx
Microsoft Word Document 14.3 KB
CPW Treasure Hunt July 1.pdf
Adobe Acrobat Document 115.4 KB
Harmsen - Treasure Hunt #1 - William Kil
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Kilpatrick The Project Method.docx
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Treasure Hunt 1 (Ashleys-MBP's conflicte
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