Case Study: Deciding on appropriate research methods – KS4 Music Example

Case Study: Deciding on appropriate research methods – KS4 Music Example

Research questions

Possible research methods and tools

Why choose these research tools?

What are the benefits and limitations of the two main types of composition software (sequencers and notation programs) for Key Stage 4 pupils?

Pupils: semi-structured interview, observations and pupils’ reflective journals


Music teacher: semi-structured interview


Interviews will give pupils the opportunity to present their own views of the software and ways in which it has supported or hindered the development of their compositions. Use of semi-structured interview will enable to researcher to explore in more depth the emerging themes identified from the pupils reflective journals.


Observations of the pupils during the composition process will provide insights into how the pupils are using the software and the difficulties they encounter.


Interviewing a colleague who is also using the software with their class will give an indication of whether some of the findings from the researcher’s class are influenced by the sample or context.

What is the nature of creativity within the composition process and how does the use of technology enhance this?

Pupils: interview

Music teacher: semi-structured interview


Researcher: personal reflections



Interviewing the pupils and music teacher will provide insights into their perceptions of the nature of creativity within their compositions and how significant they consider this to be.


The researcher’s personal reflections are particularly significant and it is important to maintain a reflective record of how their view of the nature of creativity in composition changes and develops as they begin to gather data during the research phase.

When assessing pupils’ compositions is it possible to judge creativity, and should this be valued separately to the composing skills that are evidenced?

Pupil compositions: analysis using criteria for creativity established in related research, together with other indicators of success in composition.

Basing the analysis of the pupils’ compositions using criteria from other research is important as it builds on the research of established researchers in the field of study. It is however also possible that this research may suggest other useful criteria to include in the evaluation of the creativity of the compositions.

What is the role of the teacher in facilitating the development of pupils’ compositions and what impact does this have?

Pupils: observation and interview

Interviews will provide the researcher with opportunities to explore pupils’ views of approaches and interventions used in lessons. During the interviews, interesting observations of pupils’ responses to different interventions can be explored.

Questions to consider:

Do the pupils have sufficiently well- developed language and literacy skills to be able to express their views in interview or via electronic journals?

What steps need to be taken to enable the pupils to feel able to share all of their views in relation to difficulties associated with using the software and aspects of the role of the teacher in supporting the composition process? (Issue: researcher is also the music teacher – power imbalance)