The purpose of this study was to develop aural perception tasks to examine the musical cognitive strategies of fourth grade students. The study was accomplished in four phases. During the first phase, relevant research sources were examined to identify those aspects of pattern construction that need to be considered when developing tonal patterns designed to examine cognitive strategies. During the second phase, perceptual tasks were developed to reflect the findings of the literature review. During the third phase, the tasks were administered to ten fourth grade students over two test sessions. Finally, during the fourth phase, the data were transcribed and analyzed.
Nine tasks were developed that required the participants to listen to and compare tonal patterns in order to decide whether they were the same or whether they were different. The tasks were designed to examine three main issues: first, what aspects of tonal pattern structure do students attend to when organizing tonal information; second, does the presence of accompaniment effect perception, and; third, is there a relationship between vocal accuracy and pitch discrimination.
Procedures of protocol analysis were used to elicit information regarding cognitive strategies. Through this process three main findings were identified. First, students attended to the following aspects of structure: interval content, general contour, rhythm, and accompaniment. Second, the effect of accompaniment was found to be variable and related to vocal accuracy. Third, pitch discrimination did appear to be related to vocal accuracy.
The data analysis was assessed utilizing inter-rater reliability. The researcher and the auditor assigned 37 of the 40 coded sections to the same category for a 92.5% level of agreement thus demonstrating the validity of the analysis conducted in this study.