Väitös Katja Sutela

Thesis defence Master of Education Katja Sutela 8.5.2020 12:00

Friday, May 8, 2020

Doctoral Candidate

Master of Education Katja Sutela

Faculty and research unit

University of Oulu Graduate School, Faculty of Education, Teachers, Teaching and Educational Communities

Field of study

Music education

Date and time of the thesis defence

8.5.2020 12:00

Place of the thesis defence

Remote connection, Zoom link: https://oulu.zoom.us/j/65775331474

Topic of the dissertation

Exploring the possibilities of Dalcroze-based music education to foster the agency of students with special needs. A practitioner inquiry in a special school.


Professor Raymond MacDonald, University of Edinburgh


Professor Juha Ojala, University of the Arts, Sibelius Academy

How to recognize and support the agency of student with special needs in music education

The agency of students with special needs is often forgotten in music classroom. The normative conception of musical agent based on virtuosity, music reading and instrumental skills does not recognize different ways of learning and acting in musical context.

This dissertation examines how Dalcroze-based music-and-movement teaching can foster the agency of students with special needs. To generate the data for the study, a teaching experiment at the special school was organized. That data consisted of the music-and-movement lessons, video-recordings of all the lessons, semi-structured interviews with all participants, field notes, and a research diary.

The dissertation argues that Dalcroze-based music-and-movement education offers tools for educators to support the agency of students with special needs through embodied engagement and non-verbal interaction. In the research, the development of students' agency was manifested in advanced interaction, decision-making, participation and bodily skills. The music-and-movement activities allowed the students to develop their agency at both the individual and social levels.

The dissertation challenges educators to ponder how the development of students' agency is taken into account in the pedagogical choices and in the society at large. The results of the study suggest that pedagogical inclusion can be achieved by acknowledging the different ways of knowing and acting in music education. This, in turn, can contribute to the recognition and development of agency of students with special needs in music classroom. Music educators cannot change students' circumstances, but they can change the ways they encounter, treat and teach students in music classrooms and, in doing so, lower the barriers to students' full participation in society. The results of this research could serve not only music teacher education but also the wider development of teacher education in Finland.


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Last updated: 8.5.2020