Presentations, Keynotes, Talks and Lectures

Selected Conference Papers

  • MODAL Research Papers and Posters at the Canadian Society for the Study of Education (CSSE) Annual Conference 2013
  • Multimodal and Digital Media Multiliteracies In and Through the Arts. Symposium for Language & Literacy Researchers of Canada (LLRC SIG), University of Victoria, Canada, 1-5 June, 2013.
    Symposium Abstract
    DSC00497

    Pictured from left to right: Deanna Peluso, Alexandra (Sandy) Gillis, Dr. Rachel Heydon, Dolores McKee, Dr. Susan O’Neill, Gordon Cobb, Dr. Jennifer Rowsell

    There is growing recognition of the value of the arts in developing multimodal multiliteracies for enhancing creativity and helping learners meet the challenges of today’s digital age (Sefton-Green & Sinker, 2000). This broad vision of learning in and through the arts is an increasing part of the participatory culture that youth experience through digital media, the Internet, and online social networking (Gee, 2005; Jenkins, 2009). And yet, schools as institutions have been slow to embrace integrated arts initiatives involving digital technologies (Freedman, 2003). This symposium explores key educational program areas (early childhood, intergenerational, teacher education, and community programs) with a focus on multimodal ways to represent and critically engage with ideas, “acknowledging new technologies and new ways of communication that are prevalent in the twenty-first century global landscape” (Giampapa, 2010, p. 411). Four studies explore these issues from diverse perspectives and learning contexts (school, community, university) involving kindergarten children, pre-adolescent girls, university students, and elders in a residential home. Each paper draws on multimodal and multiliteracy theoretical perspectives (e.g., Kress, 2010; Walsh, 2011) and expansive learning pedagogies (e.g., Douglas, 2012). Discussion will consider how educators might best use the arts, digital media and multimodal learning opportunities to enhance multiliteracies education.

  • Senyshyn, Y., Bosacki, S., Peters, V., & O’Neill, S. A. (2013). Emerging conceptions of artistic learning through dialogue and collaborative youth-adult partnerships. Proceedings of the Canadian Society for the Study of Education (CSSE) Annual Conference 2013, University of Victoria, Canada
    Conference Abstract

    Title: Emerging conceptions of artistic learning through dialogue and collaborative youth-adult partnerships.

    Unlike past generations, young people growing up in today’s digital age increasingly view artistry or “being artistic” as something that is assumed rather than achieved or bestowed (Kress, 2010). Since youth are more likely to refer to themselves as “artists” if they create something new or re-vision and transform something that already exists to “make it their own”, this suggests that conceptions of artistic learning may also be changing. This notion was explored through a series of six dialogues about artistic learning with youth, artists, arts educators, and leaders of community/provincial arts organizations. Bohm’s (1996) concept of dialogue was used to facilitate the exchange of knowledge across different perspectives and contexts. Emerging themes were analyzed using inductive analysis that involved a collaborative process with researchers and dialogue participants. Findings indicated a number of perspective transformations that participants’ experienced as assumptions underpinning belief systems were examined during the dialogues. This paper will also discuss the theoretical basis for transformative arts engagement (O’Neill, 2012) for the three further papers in this symposium and discuss the implications for creating expansive learning opportunities and creative collaborations (John-Steiner, 2000) in and through the arts that build on and extend existing curricula.

  • O’Neill, S., Senyshyn, Y., Peluso, D., Sparks, J., Cobb, G., & Gillis, A. S. (2013). Learning Together 2013 – Engaging The World Conference, Simon Fraser University, Surrey, BC.
  • McPherson, G., & O’Neill, S. A. (2010). Students’ motivation to study music as compared to other school subjects: A comparison of eight countries. Research Studies in Music Education December 32, 101-137. doi:10.1177/1321103X10384202.
    Conference Abstract

    Title: Students’ motivation to study music as compared to other school subjects: A comparison of eight countries.

    This study draws on an expectancy-value theoretical framework to examine the motivation (competence beliefs, values and task difficulty) of 24,143 students (11,909 females and 10,066 males, aged 9 to 21 years) from eight countries (Brazil n = 1848; China n = 3049; Finland n = 1654; Hong Kong n = 6179; Israel n = 2257; Korea n = 2671; Mexico n = 3613; USA n = 3072). Music was studied in comparison to five other school subjects (art, mother tongue, physical education, mathematics, science) across three school grade levels that included the key transition from elementary to secondary school. Results indicated that music as a school subject was valued less and received lower task difficulty ratings than other school subjects with the exception of art. Students reported higher competence beliefs for physical education and mother tongue compared to music and lower competence beliefs for mathematics and art. There was an overall decline in students’ competence beliefs and values across the school grade levels for all countries except Brazil. Females reported higher competence beliefs and values and lower task difficulty ratings for music, art and mother tongue than males. Males reported higher competence beliefs and lower task difficulty ratings for physical education and mathematics. There were no gender differences for values in mathematics. Music learners reported higher competence beliefs and values and lower task difficulty across school subjects than non-music learners. Secondary analyses were used to further explore differences within each of the eight countries. Findings suggest that once students have experienced learning to play an instrument or voice, they become more motivated towards other school subjects. Implications of the findings suggest that advocacy aimed at increasing the values that students attach to music as a school subject may encourage more students to become music learners across a wide range of countries.

  • O’Neill, S. A., & Peluso, D. (2010). Media convergence culture: exploring young people’s musical worlds. Proceedings of the Media Literacy Conference (p. 50), London, UK.
    Conference Abstract

    Title: Media convergence culture: exploring young people’s musical worlds.

    Social networking and media sharing has altered young people’s involvement in music. Compared with a decade ago, youth today experience and engage with music in much the same way as they experience and engage with creative and innovative technologies. An inherent complexity in young people’s musical interactions emerges from the fluid, changeable, and multifaceted nature of media engagement. Integrated from the very start, young people’s interaction with media involves a combination of old and new technologies, or media convergence culture. An in-depth exploration of young people’s musical worlds is a necessary precursor to the development of effective curriculum and pedagogy aimed at increasing media literacy in and through participatory culture. Our study involves an examination of these components and their convergence or intersectionality. Our analysis focuses on the use of technology, media, and social networking in young people’s descriptions of their music engagement. We conducted over 100 individual interviews with 10-18 year olds from elementary, middle and secondary schools across Canada. We asked participants to describe their current involvement in formal and informal musical activities that occur in and out of school contexts. Using a meaning systems analytical approach, we identified key components that overlap and create an intricate web of interaction involving the self, social, and physical environment. These interconnected components provide important insights into young people’s learning progression in media, technology and music education. Findings are discussed in terms of their implications for identifying and developing media literacy and fostering transformative learning opportunities.

    Saturday, 20th November, 2010, 13.15 – 14.30, Mountbatten, 6th Floor theme: Convergence Culture

  • Senyshyn, Y., & O’Neill, S. A. (2010). Media convergence culture: exploring young people’s musical worlds. Proceedings of the Media Literacy Conference (p. 53), London, UK.
    Conference Abstract

    Title: Media literacy and music: enhancing existential educational experiences.

    Existential educational experiences promote learning opportunities that are capable of developing subjectivity and an authentic understanding of freedom and choice. It is an educational approach that is responsive to the uncertainty and alienation that often exists in our fast changing, technology-driven world. It focuses on how an individual learner relates to the meanings that are inherent in different media. This paper explores media literacy and music as a way of engaging teacher and learner in interactions based on particular aesthetic experiences that respect the freedoms of both parties in a non-exploitative manner. Such an existential approach to media education and literacy seeks to: (1) create an awareness of the institutions, forces, and trends that can lead to media as a form of manipulation that is emancipatory for some but capable of limiting the freedom of others, (2) cultivate an awareness of personal choice and social responsibility where one is capable of understanding media as a form of principled pluralism, and (3) develop an understanding of meaning-making that is situated in the ‘between’, rather than with one point of view or the other. Drawing on several illustrative examples from youth culture, we explore a theoretical framework that involves media literacy and music as a way of developing young people’s subjectivity through aesthetic understandings of the relational, culturally embedded, alienated, and meaning-making aspects of media and culture. We will also discuss how educators might usefully employ this framework as a critical ‘lens’ through which to examine their existing media literacy curriculum practices.

    Friday, 19th November, 2010, 13.30 – 14.45, Mountbatten, 6th Floor theme: Media Education across the Curriculum

Selected Keynote Addresses

  • O’Neill, S. Critical Canadian Youth Studies: The Future is Networking Conference, The Werklund Centre at the Faculty of Education, University of Calgary, Alberta, May 30-31 2013.
  • O’Neill, S. “Understanding and Engaging Artists and Musicians in the 21st Century.” Miegunyah Distinguished Visiting Fellowship Public Lecture, University of Melbourne, Australia, 27 April 2012.

    Abstract

    To gain a better understanding of artists and musicians in the 21st century we must first expand the lens through which we view their artistic and musical worlds. Drawing on recent studies by Research for Youth, Music and Education (RYME) that involved young people from across Canada, Dr. Susan O’Neill explores the characteristics of artistic and musical engagement, what young people value most about their involvement in the arts and music, and their artistic representations of music in their everyday lives. Her finding indicate that an important paradigm shift is taking place in young artists’ and musicians’ worlds in terms of their identity and commitment to learning, engagement in creative participatory cultures, and valuing of innovation, inspiration, and multidimensionality. Dr. O’Neill will present a transformative theory for music engagement that conceptualizes young people’s artistic and musical worlds as zones of complexity involving expansive learning opportunities through media convergence culture, catalysts, and zones of contact involving interconnections through social media and learning relationships. She argues that an evolution in creative learning has taken place that is capable of empowering learners by fostering autonomy, resiliency, and life-long positive engagement in the performing arts. The key is understanding the blurring, blended, and braided nature of artistic creativity in the 21st century and the best ways to support the participatory turn that is associated with both constraints and possibilities for the future of performing arts in a technological and globalized world.

Selected Talks

  • O’Neill, S. A. (2010). Initiators and sustainers of youth engagement in music: An interview study. Symposium on motivation: measuring and understanding motivation and music learning. (Symposium Convenor: S. A. O’Neill). International Conference on Multidisciplinary Research in Music Pedagogy, University of Ottawa, Canada.
    Abstract

    Title: Initiators and Sustainers of Youth Engagement in Music: An Interview Study.

    Motivation is an integral part of what initiates and sustains meaningful engagement in music. Not all youth are engaged in music activities to the same extent or in the same way. Some may show an interest in an activity by simply being involved. Others may take a leadership role by bringing others to the activity or by helping to organize or advocate on behalf of the activity. An engaged youth thinks the activity is an important one, is well-informed about the activity, and has a sense of purpose or derives important meaning and fulfillment from involvement in the activity. This study involved individual interviews with 90 young people in grades 7 to 10. This study examines the question of what makes different forms of music engagement meaningful for different youth in different contexts. The results provide a framework for understanding what gets youth involved in different music activities in the first place (initiators), and what helps to keep them involved (sustainors).

  • O’Neill, S. A. (2010). Exchanging “insider” knowledge through youth participatory research. Symposium on musical values: recasting knowledge exchange and equity in music pedagogy. (Symposium Convenor: S. A. O’Neill). International Conference on Multidisciplinary Research in Music Pedagogy, University of Ottawa, Canada.
    Abstract

    Title: Exchanging “Insider” Knowledge Through Youth Participatory Research in Music.

    There is evidence that the involvement of youth as collaborators in the process of research itself contributes to the value and relevance of the information gathered. In addition, the involvement of youth as researchers can provide opportunities for positive engagement, leadership, increased advocacy, and learning opportunities. The youth, working within their own peer culture, have a perspective about which researchers can only speculate. Young people’s “insider” knowledge also contributes to the knowledge of adults involved in pedagogical planning and policy for youth music programs. However, teachers often find it difficult to tap into this knowledge and/or incorporate it into their pedagogical practices. This exploratory study involves youth as participants in their own research on the topic of youth engagement in music. This paper explores how we can use research to build and sustain a culture of knowers in music education that integrates research, practice, and engagement issues. The implications of knowledge equity and the perceived power differential between youth, adult researchers, and teachers is also discussed.

  • Senyshyn, Y. (2010). Creative co-authorship and autonomous youth engagement in music. Symposium on musical values: recasting knowledge exchange and equity in music pedagogy. (Symposium Convenor: S. A. O’Neill). International Conference on Multidisciplinary Research in Music Pedagogy, University of Ottawa, Canada.
    Abstract

    Title: Creative Co-Authorship and Autonomous Youth Engagement in Music.

    There is evidence that the involvement of youth as collaborators in the process of research itself contributes to the value and relevance of the information gathered. In addition, the involvement of youth as researchers can provide opportunities for positive engagement, leadership, increased advocacy, and learning opportunities. The youth, working within their own peer culture, have a perspective about which researchers can only speculate. Young people’s “insider” knowledge also contributes to the knowledge of adults involved in pedagogical planning and policy for youth music programs. However, teachers often find it difficult to tap into this knowledge and/or incorporate it into their pedagogical practices. This exploratory study involves youth as participants in their own research on the topic of youth engagement in music. This paper explores how we can use research to build and sustain a culture of knowers in music education that integrates research, practice, and engagement issues. The implications of knowledge equity and the perceived power differential between youth, adult researchers, and teachers is also discussed.

Selected Posters

  • Senyshyn, Y., Erickson, D., & O’Neill, S. A. (2013). Beyond Music Matters: A follow-up study of secondary school students’ experiences of transformative music learning during middle school. Poster session presented at the Canadian Society for the Study of Education Annual Conference, University of Victoria, Canada.
    Abstract

    Beyond Music Matters: A follow-up study of secondary school students’ experiences of transformative music learning during middle school.

    Transformative music engagement (O’Neill, 2012) is an approach to music learning that fosters expansive learning opportunities through young people’s critical reflections on their values and conscious efforts to plan and implement actions that bring about new ways of transforming themselves, others, and their community in relation to music activities. This paper reports on a two-year longitudinal follow-up study of learners who participated in a previous transformative music engagement project called Music Matters. The project used a collaborative methodology involving youth-led action research (Cahill, 2007) with music learners in Grades 7 and 8, their music teachers, and two researchers engaged in music-related activities that took place over several months. Specifically, learners were encouraged through a process of dialogue, inquiry, and shared meaning making to explore their own ideas about why music matters using a youth-led action research approach (Kemmis & McTaggart, 2000). Students developed music-related projects in response to questions they had about their own music engagement (Erickson, 2012). Larson’s (2011) framework for examining emotional, motivational, and cognitive-ecological processes revealed that the students’ become more engaged in their learning as they experienced a greater sense of empowerment, purpose and contribution to their community of learners. The students’ perceptions using interview data and the implications and challenges that were experienced in implementing and evaluating the projects will be discussed.

  • O’Neill, S. A. & Sparks, J., (2013). Diverse perspectives on arts disciplines revealed through dialogue in a fine arts school. Poster session presented at the Canadian Society for the Study of Education Annual Conference, University of Victoria, Canada.
    Abstract

    Diverse perspectives on arts disciplines revealed through dialogue in a fine arts school.

    This paper presents a study of 15 students in grades 8-12 focusing on different arts disciplines (visual arts, dance, language arts, music, photography), researchers, and teachers from a Fine Arts School in British Columbia. The researchers and students met for eight sessions over the course of several months to explore knowledge and develop shared understandings about why the arts matter. Activities focused on dialogue, reflection, student‐led participatory action research, and multimodal representations of the “messages” that the students thought were important for increasing awareness and understanding about the value of arts engagement, particularly within their own school culture (Damon, Menon, & Bronk, 2003). Their key messages emerged through the students’ growing recognition of the expansive artistic and positive growth they experienced when engaged in integrated or multidisciplinary arts activities. In this study, we were particularly interested in the opportunities, constraints and key processes that emerged in developing and implementing this project. This research will inform future iterations of this work and help us develop directions for future projects to encourage integrated music and arts, and whole school involvement in inquiry, reflection and advocacy to strengthen connections between arts subjects and between the school and community.

  • O’Neill, S. A. & Bespflug, K., (2013). Arts in Action: Community art as catalysts for social change through children’s creative collaborative song writing. Poster session presented at the Canadian Society for the Study of Education Annual Conference, University of Victoria, Canada.
    Abstract

    Arts in Action: Community art as catalysts for social change through children’s creative collaborative song writing.

    In this study, 44 grade six students at an independent school in British Columbia took part in a month long interdisciplinary song-writing project. This project asked first-year ukulele players to collaborate on ideas inspired by art that was part of the Biennale Public Art Exhibition. Students then wrote an original song complete with chords and lyrics that examined the ‘big ideas’ of their chosen piece. Students wrote their songs using any process that worked for them, supported by their teacher, a singer-songwriting mentor, and their peers. Students kept ongoing Arts Developmental Workbooks that documented their process and included reflections on their experience. The process was also videotaped, as were the final presentations, which were presented for peers in front of digital images of the chosen art pieces. Despite limited (first-year) ukulele skills, students who participated in this study were able to effectively write songs that communicated the ‘big ideas’ of their chosen pieces of public art. With teacher, mentor, and peer support, and a flexible, open-ended process, students were able to choose a method that worked for them to produce a meaningful song that captured the essence of their chosen artwork. Implications for transformative arts engagement for educators will be discussed.