Coleridge: a computer tool for assisting musical reflection and self-explanation
Since the mid-1980s, there has been a movement away from knowledge supplied by the teacher and towards talking, reflecting and explaining as ways to learn. An example of this change in focus is provided by the self-explanation work of Chi et al (1994) who describe an approach to talking science rather than hearing science. According to Chi and coworkers, generating explanations to oneself (self-explanations) facilitates the integration of new information into existing knowledge. Reflecting about one's own learning is the same as thinking about learning or metacognition. Metacognition can be defined as the understanding of knowledge, an understanding that can be reflected in either effective use or overt description of the knowledge in question (Brown, 1987). This definition of metacognition requires of a learner both internalized thinking about learning (that is, reflection), and externalized communication, through language or action, that indicates an understanding of knowledge (that is, a self-explanation). In the work described in this paper the overall pedagogical goal is to encourage creative reflection in learners. Creative reflection is defined as the ability of a learner to imagine musical opportunities in novel situations, and then to make accurate predictions (verbally) about these opportunities. To succeed at creative reflection there should be a correspondence between what a learner predicts will happen and what actually happens. An example would be a learner first writing a musical phrase using musical notation, then predicting verbally how that phrase will sound, playing the phrase back on a piano, and finally evaluating if the prediction was accurate or not. Very little work has been done on how computers can be used to support talking, reflecting and explaining in the creative subject-area of musical composition. The rest of this paper addresses this issue.