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The role of parents in children’s metacognition and self-regulation during musical learning

Cheung, Jo Yee (2020) The role of parents in children’s metacognition and self-regulation during musical learning. Doctoral thesis (PhD), Awarded for a Collaborative Programme of Research at the Royal Northern College of Music by Manchester Metropolitan University.


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This thesis comprises two studies which investigated the role of parents in children’s metacognition and self-regulation during musical learning. In Study 1, 40 parents took part in an initial questionnaire study exploring trends in parental support given to children during piano practice. This was followed by a second, multi-method study involving 30 child-parent dyads, which combined questionnaires and interviews with systematic analysis of observational data of children’s instrumental practice to explore children’s metacognitive and self-regulatory processes and parental support across different contexts. Findings from this thesis indicate a significant increase in children’s use of metacognition and self-regulation during practice when supervised by parents, with parental demandingness negatively correlated with children’s musical achievement. A further negative correlation was found between children’s musical achievement and their ability to verbalise their thinking. Differences in support from parents with and without previous musical experience varied depending on the method of measurement. Although no correlation was found between reported support and parents’ previous musical experience, observational measures of parental support were positively associated with parents’ previous musical experience. Indeed, comparison of findings from multiple measures indicated complex variations in results produced by different collection methods – raising important questions about what exactly is being measured. This thesis aims to shed light on the ways in which parents support their children’s metacognition and self-regulation during musical learning, and the associations between these behaviours and children’s musical achievement. Research into the ways in which parents can mediate these internal behaviours has the potential to reinvigorate the way in which we view musical learning – not as a series of outcomes, but as a continuous process of self-understanding in which parents play a vital role. This research project hopes to make an important contribution to this exciting area of musical and psychological discourse.

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