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What does collaboration sound like?

This week at OISE, Seb and I will be presenting our Arts-based education research (ABER) project on using sound to understand long term collaborative discussions.

The presentation will be at the Centre for Education Research in Language and Literacies in room 10-148 at OISE (252 Bloor street west) on Thursday April 27.


At its core, arts-based educational research (ABER) is about offering what Barone and Eisner (2006) call enhanced perspectives. Where traditional approaches in educational research seek answers, ABER seeks alternative means of understanding data. While ABER has primarily focused in literary, visual and performative arts, sounding arts are a novel avenue for ABER analysis. Music is easily among the most information-rich media, communicating through multiple vectors simultaneously: temporally, through its duration; tonally, through its pitches; mathematically, through the ratios of its harmonies; linguistically, through its libretto; graphically, through its notation; and corporeally, through its performance.

In this study, we use music and sound to interpret collaborative group discussions among eight teachers who were part of a professional learning community. The data consist of 6 videos of 2-hour group meetings collected over a one-year period, from which we generated a piece of music. Each speaker is represented by an individual instrument, and each speech event is represented by a corresponding musical event. The duration and pitch of each musical event are determined, respectively, by word count (the more words, the more sustained the note) and length in seconds (the longer the time, the lower the pitch), respectively.

The presentation will begin by discussing how sound is a uniquely (re-)humanizing mode of (re)presenting research data. This will be followed by a historical overview of ABER practices and a description of our methodology. We will then invite the audience to ‘listen’ to the piece we have created from the data, and interpret with them the teachers' collaborative participation in the first year of this professional learning network.

Painting by Mimi Masson "Fukushima"


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