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A mixed methods approach to qualitative enquiry, focused on primary age group music workshops in a Special Educational Needs School

Meckin, David


David Meckin
Senior Lecturer in Digital Media and Web Programming


Increasing access to musical instruments at the earliest stages of education gives learners, especially those with complex needs, a chance to produce music and express themselves sonically. Understanding the contextual aspects of where and how students first encounter instrumental expression should help garner deeper insights into how to design and evaluate accessible music technologies. This presentation outlines a mixed methods approach to understanding the early encounters of technologically mediated music making workshops in a special educational needs school in Bath, UK. This set of methods was also used to evaluate a set of novel instruments designed and created throughout the project.

The approach included longitudinal data collection over a period of three years, using a reciprocal technique where the lead researcher also acted as workshop leader thus providing in kind support to the institution in which the research took place. Methods used in conjunction with one another include observations written up into rich description; Grounded Theory Methods used on transcribed interviews with key stakeholders; and Grounded Theory Methods on high granularity, transcribed video of short sections of the workshops.

Salient findings garnered from the research include various understandings of stakeholders; who may or may not be able to use the technologies, depending on their usability; the level of interactional mediation by assistants in the workshops; the requirement of flexibility of any set of technologies being used; and the importance of physical interaction and kinaesthetic perception.

After completing the research, a number of critical reflections about the methods and their implications were derived, with the representation of students, technological development time and the perceptions of qualitative research all posing challenges. There are however, a number of positive outcomes which include a set of adapted musical instruments, a control system and a basic iPad based interface were created. Additionally, a deep multi-layered understanding was developed leading to lots of further future ideas for exploration; and a higher level framework was created to link all the elements of the context together.

The presentation closes with a brief consideration of the implications of these findings for designing and evaluating novel accessible musical technologies.


Meckin, D. (2018, September). A mixed methods approach to qualitative enquiry, focused on primary age group music workshops in a Special Educational Needs School

Presentation Conference Type Conference Paper (unpublished)
Start Date Sep 7, 2018
Deposit Date Apr 8, 2021
Public URL

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