Author(s):Esa Virkkula (presenting)

Conference:ECER 2015, Education and Transition

Network:29. Research on Arts Education


Session Information

29 SES 01, Music education

Paper Session


Room:557.Oktatóterem [C]

Chair:João Costa


Sociocultural On-the-job Learning in the Vocational Education of Musicians

This research deals with the strengthening of work-life cooperation in upper secondary vocational music education leading to basic qualification. The starting point is to examine students’ and professional musicians’ action processes in workshops based on a new kind of cooperation in on-the-job learning and to evaluate their suitability to arranging on-the-job learning (cf. Guile & Griffiths, 2001). The original publications are joined by the framework of sociocultural learning (Lave & Wenger, 1991; Wenger, 1998; 2009).

The purpose of this research is to add understanding about realizing work-life cooperation and learning produced in workshop action in the education of musicians. The pedagogical purpose is to open paths to planning and availing of problem-based learning in on-the-job method which adds to the learner’s involvement (Andreasen & Nielsen, 2013; Illeris, 2011; Prince & Felder, 2006).


The research is a qualitative case study comprising the total of 143 students and several teachers in the Music Conservatory of Oulu, Finland and a few professional musicians.
The research material (articles I-III) consists of structured questionnaires, namely: a) students’ workshop plans and learning objectives written before the workshops, and b) the written reflective reports after the workshop experiences. The research data was dealt with a theory-based contents analysis (Miles & Huberman, 1994; Schreier, 2012). The data was transcribed and tabulated according to a Finnish meta-study categories of learning obstacles and promoters (Jokinen, Lähteenmäki & Nokelainen, 2009). To widen his understanding of the workshop method the researcher acted as a participating observer in the workshops of Conservatory teachers and professional musicians (6 workshops) the results of which were reported in the article IV.

Expected Outcomes

The research results show that acting as a musician in a workshop supports learning professional skills and the key competences of lifelong learning. From the pedagogical viewpoint workshop action 1) emphasizes the learner’s initiative and taking responsibility, 2) offers work environments typical of music field, 3) builds the action on problem solving and interaction, and 4) changes the role of a visiting professional musician from a source of information and the demonstrator of the “right” performances to a fellow musician.
The challenge of vocational teachers is to develop their pedagogical competencies especially in the designing and coordinating learning environments that support students’ learning broadly. This research will bring a new, concrete viewpoint to the planning and implementation of work-life cooperation.


Andreasen. L.B. & Nielsen, J.L. (2013). Dimensions of Problem Based Learning – dialogue and online collaboration in projects. Journal of Problem Based Learning in Higher Education, 1: 210–229.
Guile, D. & Griffiths, T. (2001). Learning Through Work Experience. Journal of Education and Work 14 (1): 114–131.
Illeris, K. (2011). The Fundamentals of Workplace Learning. London: Routledge.
Jokinen, J., Lähteenmäki, L. & Nokelainen, P. (2009). Työssäoppimisen lumo. [The Magic of the On-The-Job Learning]. Hämeenlinna: HAMK Julkaisut.
Lave, J. & Wenger, E. (1991). Situated Learning: Legitimate Peripheral Participation. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Miles, M.B. & Huberman, A.M. (1994). Qualitative Data Analysis, 2. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications.
Prince, M.J. & Felder, R.M. (2006). Inductive Teaching and Learning Methods: Definitions, Comparisons, and Research Bases. Journal of Engineering Education, 95 (2): 123–138.
Schreier, M. (2012). Qualitative Content Analysis in Practice. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications.
Wenger, E. (1998). Communities of Practice: Learning, Meaning, and Identity. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Wenger, E. (2009). A Social Theory of Learning. In K. Illeris (ed.) Contemporary Theories of Learning (pp. 209–218). London: Routledge.

Author Information

Esa Virkkula (presenting)
Oulu University of Applied Sciences
The School of Vocational Teacher Education