Get Up, Stand Up! Higher Order Thinking in Popular Music Studies

Mark Bergman

Advisor: John S O'Connor, PhD, School of Integrative Studies

Committee Members: Anthony J. Maiello, Lesley M. Smith

Research Hall, #91
July 01, 2015, 10:00 AM to 08:00 AM


This study focuses on the application of higher order thinking skills in general education popular music studies at the post-secondary level. The literature review explores the history of post-secondary general education music courses (also known as “music appreciation”) in the United States. The textbooks and philosophical underpinnings of popular music courses currently in widespread use are reviewed and critiqued.

Most textbooks published for general education, post-secondary audience present a preselected canon of artists and repertoire deemed by the authors as essential to the study of popular music as a discipline. Assessment strategies offered as companions to the textbooks require learners to demonstrate knowledge by remembering significant information about the essential artists and repertoire. This approach is in variance with what research shows facilitates deep learning. A new method for popular music studies is proposed which empowers learners to demonstrate knowledge of musical conventions by creating original material. Creating original material requires higher-order thinking and critical thinking skills that are more in line with the liberal arts goals articulated by most post-secondary institutions. Each chapter in the method presents sequential lessons teaching learners the skills to compose original songs and lyrics.