|Abstract as per original application
In educational settings, learners often need to efficiently perceive and extract information from visual inputs, be they words, faces, musical notation or figures. While the visual perceptual challenge is common to many domains of learning, we know little about its role in education since this research area is relatively understudied.
This proposal focuses on the role of visual perceptual ability in a type of real-world skilled reading – music sight-reading. Sight-reading refers to the ability to play a piece of music when one reads the score for the first time. It is one of the most important skills to acquire in music education, with a wide range of skill levels in the population. These make it an ideal window to understand how visual perception affects skilled reading and education in general.
The proposed project will examine the role of visual discrimination of musical notation patterns in predicting and enhancing music sight-reading abilities. Study One will use an individual-difference approach to build a new theoretical model on the basic cognitive abilities underlying sight-reading, including the ability in reading musical notation that was missing in previous studies. Study Two will use an experimental approach to test whether improved visual perceptual ability in the laboratory can transfer to enhanced sight-reading, a real-world complex skill that involves coordinated information processing in multiple modalities.
This research will have important theoretical impacts: First, it will build a new cognitive theory of music sight-reading that takes into account the role of visual perceptual ability, a missing component in the current model. Second, it will establish the causal relationship between visual perceptual abilities and sight-reading. Third, the findings will serve as a proof of concept of the role of visual perceptual learning in education in general. It is well expected that theoretical insights generated from this proposal will be applicable to other domains of skilled reading requiring visual perceptual extraction of visual codes, such as Chinese and English reading.
Pedagogically, the findings will provide an empirically tested solution to promote perceptual learning of musical notation, which addresses a long-standing problem in sight-reading pedagogy. The computerized training will be highly promising since it can be accessible to students once it is adapted to mobile platforms, adopts the self-teaching approach in learning, and can cater for individual differences in their skill levels and pace of learning. This will be an important contribution to evidence-based teaching of sight-reading.