The purpose of this study is to examine the effectiveness of learning Cantonese opera using Variation Theory as a guiding principle of pedagogical design.
A total of three types of speech in Cantonese opera were identified as the objects of learning in the study: patter speech, poetic speech and supported speech. Two classes of Grade five (N =54) students were arranged into an experimental group and a control group. In the experimental group, the characteristics of the three types of speech were taught using comparison and contrast techniques to help the learners identify and differentiate the characteristics of each type. The control group was taught the three types of speech sequentially without attempting to compare and contrast among the types. Pre‐ and post‐tests were conducted to test the students’ understanding of the objects of learning. An independent samples t‐test and a paired sample t‐test were applied to measure the statistical differences between the groups and the pre‐ and post‐tests, respectively.
The results indicated that there were no significant differences between the two groups before the treatment (p = .665). However, the experimental group achieved a significantly higher level of learning effectiveness than the control group after teaching (p = .003). The control group did not significantly improve their understanding after learning (p = .061), whereas the experimental group significantly increased their scores (p < .001).
The application of Variation Theory in academic subjects, especially mathematics, has been well explored in the literature. This study shows the application of Variation Theory in the cultural subject of music, and points to the potential of Variation Theory as a guiding principle of music teaching to enhance learning effectiveness.
Lung Tang, C. and Wah Leung, B. (2012), "Teaching Cantonese opera in a primary school : Enhancing learning effectiveness with the Variation Theory", International Journal for Lesson and Learning Studies, Vol. 1 No. 3, pp. 261-275. https://doi.org/10.1108/20468251211256456
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