Academic journal article Psychological Test and Assessment Modeling

Musical Elite Gymnasia as Learning Environments and Settings for Personality Development in Secondary Students? the Case of Musical Self-Concept

Academic journal article Psychological Test and Assessment Modeling

Musical Elite Gymnasia as Learning Environments and Settings for Personality Development in Secondary Students? the Case of Musical Self-Concept

Article excerpt

The role of institutional and individual learning environments in fostering students' personality development

The present paper examines the role of both institutional and individual learning environments in the development of students' personality, focusing on their self-concept development. Regarding institutional learning environments, the pivotal question is: How important is the school environment for students' personality development? It goes without saying that the school environment is important for students' learning: According to the 'utilization of learning opportunities model' developed by Helmke (2012), learning not only depends on individual factors like the students' activities, their potential and their family background, nor is it completely determined by the teacher and his/her instruction. Rather, it is also affected by the environment or context in which learning takes place. Features of the school including its profile can be relevant for student learning and competency development. These aspects will be referred to as 'institutional learning environment' in the present paper. However, it is still an ongoing research issue whether these features are also effective determinants of students' personality development.

Learning does not only take place at school. Rather, according to sociocultural approaches to learning, which can be traced back to Vygotsky and his colleagues, the sociocultural environment also plays an important role in student learning. That is, learning takes place in the interaction with other people by means of co-constructing knowledge (JohnSteiner & Mahn, 1996). This is certainly also true for the development of musical competencies, which require intensive practising outside school lessons on a regular basis. Thus, the focus on learning and development should also take into account the students' social environment (cf. Helmke, 2012). The behaviour and attitude of socialisation agents as perceived by the students, as well as their expectations regarding students' activities can be viewed as crucial components of the individual learning environment. Thus, socialisation agents do not only affect non-formal and informal learning, but also the formation of students' attitude and self-concept which may be viewed as domainspecific aspects of their personality (cf. Kröner, 2013). In the present paper, we call the social environment of the students the 'individual learning environment'.

But how does the institutional and individual learning environment impact student learning and self-concept development in the musical domain? In general, '...learning environments exert both a direct and an indirect influence on student learning, including their engagement in what is being taught, their motivation to learn, and their sense of wellbeing, belonging, and personal safety' (KMK, 2010). According to this view, in an effective learning environment, students' learning proceeds faster, as they are more deeply engaged in the learning process, more strongly motivated to learn and more prone to hold positive feelings towards their learning environment. However, learning environments are not only relevant for cognitive learning outcomes. Rather, effective learning environments are also supposed to foster the development of the students' personalities in general and of their self-concept in particular, which will be outlined in detail in the present paper.

Institutional learning environments focusing on musical education

Most schools intend to foster students' personality development in line with the description of their school profiles (Reynolds, 1995; Welch et al., 2004). However, they are not always successful in that task: Durlak, Weissberg, and Pachan (2010) showed in their meta-analysis on the effects of after-school programmes that these programmes often do not have positive effects on personality development. One reason for this may be that core personality variables like openness are difficult to modify via interventions. …

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