Scholarly Reading & Research Problems

Last night kicked off Week 1 of Problems, Theories, and Literature: Making a Contribution to the Field. It began with a Live Classroom with all four of our professors: Karin Hendricks, Tawnya Smith, Ron Kos, and Gareth Dylan Smith. While most first Live Classrooms are a meet-and-greet, after our professors introduced themselves, we got right down to business with a lecture on scholarly reading, techniques for reading, and research problems. For this first week, we are doing a little bit of assigned reading and gathering scholarly work related to our research interest.

Each week we are given a study guide of what is expected of us:

W1 Study Guide.png

Each week I will write a little bit about what I learned through each piece.

Live Classroom

The first part of our lecture discussed how to differentiate between different types of scholarly sources.

  • Professional Journals do not publish original research and are typically reviewed by professionals instead of researchers.

  • Scholarly Journals are peer-reviewed by researchers AND include empirical research.

  • Empirical Studies include a research problem, purpose, research question(s), rationale, methods, findings, and a discussion or conclusion.

  • Literature Reviews typically draw conclusions based on a review of sources. The author does not collect new data.

  • Theoretical Sources are typically based upon extensive knowledge from both fieldwork and the relevant empirical literature, providing a lens through which to view phenomena of interest.

  • Philosophical Sources, similar to theoretical sources, can provide a lens through which to view phenomena of interest.

  • Other Sources

    • Book Reviews: short articles summarizing and critiquing a new books

    • Memoirs: tributes to a scholar that highlight key contributions of their work.

    • Conference Proceedings, Abstracts, or Published Talks

The second part of our lecture reviewed techniques for reading scholarly literature. The biggest piece of which was the 4-Step Scaffolding Approach which are the different levels of reading referenced in the study guide.

  1. Skim/Overview
    1. Title, abstract, headings, general feel
    2. Ask questions such as:
      • What is this about in general?
      • What is the writing style?
      • What might I learn?
      • How might this relate to other things I have read?
  2. General Quick Read
    1. Do NOT go back and re-read anything at this point.
    2. Read for general content/framing
    3. Keep eyes moving and pause to reflect only between sections
    4. Write big ideas down when finished
      • What are the general ideas?
      • What are the general conclusions?
      • What might the epistemological stance be?
      • What might the theoretical framework be?
      • What might be the methodology used?
      • How is this reading potentially useful to me?
  3. Deep Read
    1. Revisit earlier questions and previous “hunches”
    2. Write general notes in margins in PENCIL (limit highlighting)
    3. Write notes away from the page as appropriate
    4. Ask questions such as:
      • How does this reading relate to my previous hunches?
      • What do I need to go back and read in more depth?
      • What words do I need to look up?
      • How does this reading relate to my own experience?
      • How does this relate to other reading I have done?
      • Other specific content questions
        • “p. 596: How did the researchers know that all children were interested in making the toys?”
        • “I wonder why European American middle-class children were more likely to disrupt?”
  4. Final Overview and Internal Synthesis
    1. Synthesize
    2. Elevator speech (talk out loud)
    3. Write or revise general notes
    4. Write notes on Concept Organizer
    5. Ask questions such as:
      • How can I use this material in my own research?
      • What practical implications might this reading have?
      • What theoretical implications might this reading have?
      • What methodological implications might this reading have?
      • What do I want/need to read now?

The last part of our lecture was by Dr. Diana Dansereau on research problems and was left for us to complete on our own. Dr. Dansereau conceptualizes a research problem as tension between literature/theory and practice/reality. Part of our assignment was to respond to prompts from Dr. Dansereau’s presentation, one of which was:

Take a minute to think about a strategy that you have implemented in your work – or perhaps a strategy that you have seen implemented – and determine what underlying tension prompted that action

Our professional learning community of K–12 music educators identified that many students struggled to demonstrate rhythmic and tonal literacy in all of our courses—general music, band, choir, and music theory. To respond, we developed a curriculum of teaching rhythms using takadimi and tonality using solfege that was implemented consistently in all K–12 music classes.


Who are you as a person? My name is Burton Hable. I live in Crozet, Virginia, just outside of Charlottesville, with my wife, Chloe, and our cockapoo, Toby. We moved here in 2018 when my wife accepted a tenure track position in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at the University of Virginia. Prior to that, we lived in Ames, Iowa. Chloe completed her PhD at Iowa State while I taught nearby in Ankeny. Currently, I substitute teach while looking for a full-time band position. In all of that extra free time, I like doing projects around the house, riding my bike, and playing ice hockey. I am a technology junkie and an Apple fan. I’m currently working on a note-taking app that will probably not be finished any time soon, now that we have begun this course! I am excited about the blogging aspect of this course, as I have been doing my own reflective blog for the past five years.

Who are you as a musician? As a musician, I play classical and jazz trombone. I have been pleasantly surprised by how many more playing opportunities I have in the Charlottesville area than I did in Iowa. I started playing in the Charlottesville Municipal Band this summer, and quickly picked up gigs in jazz, Dixieland, and trombone ensembles. I was recently part of a group of 30+ trombonists playing music in Market Street Park (where the Robert E Lee statue resides) as a counter to the events that happened there two years ago. Right now, I substitute teach in the Charlottesville City and Albemarle County schools across all subjects, but I am much happier when a music teacher needs me to cover their classes! In Ankeny, I taught 6–12th grade band as part of a six person professional learning community. Our schedule was setup so that all six of us could be in each rehearsal every day, pulling students out for individual or small group lessons. Our team was built so that we were giving those lessons on our primary instruments.

Who are you as a scholar? I am only recently developing my role as a scholar. For my Masters Project at VanderCook College of Music, I developed a curriculum for teaching improvisation through small jazz combos derived from a large jazz ensemble. During my first teaching position in Waterloo, Iowa, I was part of a team that researched, developed, and began implementing a 6–12 music curriculum that delivered instruction without academic pull-out lessons. Our PLC in Ankeny developed a standards-based curriculum built around our lesson program and research on takadimi and conversational solfege. As part of this doctoral program, I have become interested in the intersection of makerspaces and music education, drawing on the work of Seymour Papert, Idit Harel, John Dewey, Jean Piaget, Edward Clapp, Erica Halverson, and Kimberley Sheridan. I am not sure if they count as scholars, but Ira Socol, Pam Moran, and Chad Ratliff have written about how schools have implemented makerspaces.

How has the approach described in Crotty Chapter 1 changed the way you think about scholarship? Prior to reading Chapter 1, I had a vague understanding of what Crotty identified as the four elements of research. During the Introduction to Music Education Research course, I struggled to understand how a theoretical framework was important to my own scholarship. I am now able to better see how an epistemology informs a theoretical perspective which informs a methodology which informs methods of research. I also see how the quantitative/qualitative debate is really more of an objectivist/constructivist or objectivist/subjectivist debate.

What questions remain or do you now have as a result of reading Crotty Chapter 1? Crotty’s approach appears backwards to me. If each element, beginning with epistemology, informs the next, why would we not start with an epistemology? Is the approach Crotty describes on pages 6–9 for a research proposal or our own process of thinking through how to answer our research question(s)? It seems that Crotty is describing the process of writing a research proposal, but I would think our own thinking prior to the proposal would need to begin with epistemology.

Which of the three epistemologies addressed by Crotty do you think most aligns with your own worldview and/or research interests? I think constructionism most aligns with my own worldview and research interests. I am drawn to the work of Piaget, Papert, and Dewey, where students construct individual and personal meaning through experience. I do not think there is one “objective” truth or meaning when considering learning that can be attained through careful research. I agree with Piaget and Papert where meaning is drawn from experience, which seems it could have some roots in subjectivism, but is more likely to reside within constructionism. I still have some confusion here because it was recommended I look at Harel and Papert’s theory of constructionism as a theoretical framework for my research proposal in ME740, which I believe is informed by a constructionist epistemology, but not an epistemology on its own.


Burton Hable

Burton Hable is an instrumental music educator from Central Iowa. In 2013 he helped open Centennial High School in Ankeny, the first time in forty years that a school district in Iowa expanded to two high schools. He served there through 2018 as Assistant Director of Bands: conducting the 10th Grade Symphonic Band, directing the varsity Jazz Collective, co-directing the Centennial Marching and Pep Bands, teaching music theory, and providing individual and small group lessons to brass students in grades 6-12 at Prairie Ridge Middle School, Northview Middle School, and Centennial High School. During his tenure in Ankeny, enrollment in band grew from 450 to nearly 700, the jazz program expanded from four to seven ensembles, and ensembles under his direction were invited to perform at Iowa State University, Harper College, and the Veterans Day Parade in New York City.