Peter Gouzouasis


Relevant Thesis-Based Degree Programs


Graduate Student Supervision

Doctoral Student Supervision

Dissertations completed in 2010 or later are listed below. Please note that there is a 6-12 month delay to add the latest dissertations.

Living assessment: the artful assessment of learning in the arts (2021)

Arts learning experiences often embrace a canvas of colourful interpretations and creativity that necessitate assessment practices unique to the arts. However, conventional practices (i.e., rating scales, rubrics, and checklists) struggle, or are unable, to meaningfully assess students’ creativity, imagination, and meaning making. Therefore, guided by a framework of artography and autoethnography, I developed a novel, formative means of assessment grounded in artistic thinking, doing, and making—living assessment. Living assessment encourages l’art pour l’art, and is rooted in underpinnings of pedagogical documentation, learning stories, and living inquiry. That foundation evokes three guideposts—documentation, artistry, and augmentation— to support teachers as they engage with artistic practices, tools, and frameworks to creatively illuminate values and judgments of their students’ creativity, imagination, and meaning making in arts learning experiences.Over the course of a school year, I composed over 500 creative non-fictional, autoethnographies of my journey with living assessment. The stories focus on the artful assessments of Kindergarten, Grade 1, Grade 4/5, and Grade 6 student music learning experiences. Findings from the study illuminate how this practice of assessment respects and values the individual child and enables a democratic means of assessment for the entire learning community. This inquiry also elucidates how living assessment advocates meaning making through the arts, which better corresponds with the learning at hand, and with children’s cognitive capacities—i.e., through play-based learning, drawing, painting, music, and drama. In our learning community, many of the students saturated themselves in the aesthetics of art making, and were able to respond to what they made and learned through aesthetic criticisms. Moreover, living assessment provides opportunities for parents to participate in and better support their child’s learning and meaning making. Artfully inspired, autoethnographic assessment practices also enable an ongoing reflexive process of professional development for the teacher. What is more, I came to understand that living assessment not only supports a practice that is creative, playful, and discursive, but also entices young learners to experience joy, wonder, and passion with the arts through an ongoing participation in the art of living assessment.

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Will's Notebook: the art of learning from experience and listening (2019)

This dissertation is an inquiry into how experience and listening can be used in creative production to improve teaching and learning through attunement. I use an arts-based research approach to develop two creative productions. The first is a story book (Will’s Notebook) that tells a tale of my journey, the second is a suite of soundscape compositions (The Cotter Suite) that represents this journey musically. Through hermeneutic reflection of experience, acceptance of complexity and uncertainty, and self-care, a theoretical framework is developed to consider how artistic practice and creative production can be sources of educational research and development. The conceptualization of artistic practice and creative production as part of my own currere connects curriculum studies and educational research to arts-based practice for the improvement of teaching and learning.

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Exploring music and piano playing with young children: a piano teacher's pedagogical stories (2018)

The purpose of my inquiry is to learn more about how young children learn to play the piano through examining my own teaching practices. By using autoethnography (Adams, Jones, & Ellis, 2014; Bartleet & Ellis, 2009; Bochner & Ellis, 2016; Chang, 2008; Ellis, 2004, 2009; Ellis & Bochner, 2000; Jones, Adams, & Ellis, 2013; Reed-Danahay, 1997; Richardson, 2000) – as a creative non-fictional form of storytelling – my intent is (1) to illustrate a number of new, emerging perspectives and practices in piano pedagogy for young children through creative non-fiction stories; (2) to learn more about how my lived experiences of be(com)ing a piano teacher-researcher inform that practice; and (3) to determine the importance and value of piano teachers’ autoethnographies in the development of a piano pedagogy for young beginner learners and piano teacher education.Throughout the dissertation, I also include a series of photographs and videos to convey my students’ unique, individual ways of learning to play the piano. The mixed forms of visual, musical, and textual data capture how we have been exploring music and piano playing with one another. They are my metaphorical fragments of my life stories – of teaching, writing, and researching – concerning what it means to be with young children when exploring music and piano playing.

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A song of songs: A/r/tography, autoethnography, and songwriting as music education research (2015)

This dissertation is an a/r/tographic inquiry in which I explore how songs and stories about songwriting can serve as a means for theorizing new ways of conducting research in music education. I a/r/tographically braid music, lyrics, scholarship and research, autoethnography, and other creative analytical practices to demonstrate how songs and memories can be used as interpretive texts for understanding artistic identity and the nature of being a musician. Through a collaged and multi-modal method of inquiry, I show how music and its renderings, i.e., recordings, lyrics, videos, memories, and lived shared expressions (e.g., performance) can hold and uncover new ‘knowings’ about music making, the self, and society. Using a bricolaged métissage approach, I explore how and why the ethnographic study of autobiographical material and artistic renderings through (and about) song can broaden understandings of the lived experiences of musicians, music learners, and teachers. Supported by Pinar’s re-conceptualist theory of currere, hermeneutic epistemologies, and praxial approaches to music education, this dissertation exemplifies performative autoethnography as research through music-making. I ultimately arrive at two interwoven outcomes: 1) song may function simultaneously as the method, results, and interpretation of research; and 2) the lived experiences and ‘musicings’ of musicians may be considered as a form of artful scholarship. Digital audio and video files of six original songs are attached to this dissertation not only as data in support of the research, but also as a representation and report of findings through storied/scholarly renderings in lyric, prose, image, and music. Supplementary video material is available at:

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The Neuroscience of Movement, Time and Space: An Arts Educational Study of the Embodied Brain (2011)

This thesis is an exploration of the contributions of contemporary theories in film and literacy with the purpose of understanding how those theories inform an arts-based researcher in education. Additionally, further insights are drawn from cognitive, social, and neurosciences with the purpose of broadening the scope of understanding that stretches across multiple disciplines wherein film and literacy education is found. By engaging in a wide exploration across multiple fields of knowledge, this thesis shows the extent to which the general belief of the incommensurability between the arts, philosophy, cognitive, social and neurosciences has impacted negatively on education. It is believed, however, that knowledge gained through the study of contemporary theories in film and literacy, which is founded upon the philosophical, psychological, and sociological, may achieve greater clarity and insight when framed within the scope of advanced studies in neurosciences. With the interweaving of autobiographical accounts, explorations in the theoretical and experimental lead to a renewed understanding of film, arts, and literacy pedagogy. Finally, it is believed that understanding the convergence of the brain’s cognitive, emotional, and sensorimotor functions and the primacy of movement, is pivotal to understanding the complex issues of brain-body-mind that range from consciousness to learning.

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Master's Student Supervision

Theses completed in 2010 or later are listed below. Please note that there is a 6-12 month delay to add the latest theses.

Becoming enilikogical: the autoethnography of an early childhood educator during the COVID-19 pandemic (2022)

Drawing from the notion of autoethnography as pedagogy (Banks & Banks, 2000), the purpose of this thesis is to ignite a process of reflexivity through writing and re-writing the self (Gouzouasis, 2020) as I recollect and write my own lived experiences as an Early Childhood Educator (ECE) and artist teaching and creating during the initial year of the COVID-19 pandemic. By adopting autoethnographic and a/r/tographic practices, I aim to examine the concept of ‘becoming enìlikogical’, noting the distinction of enìlikogy as the study of adult-oriented learning (Gouzouasis, 2019). Thus, the act of storying my own processes of teaching and learning serves to invite a reflexive inquiry in an enìlikogical sense. I aim to not only inform transformative growth on a personal level but also to initiate dialogue around the complex experiences of Early Childhood Educators, illustrate the relationality of ECE praxis, and to promote a culture of reflexivity in the field of ECE. My intention is to redefine my practice and identity as an educator through this process, as I reflexively examine (1) how my identity and pedagogical practice have shifted in the context of a global pandemic, (2) how my practices as an artist, educator, and researcher intersect with each other, and (3) how a ‘living curriculum’ may be invited or suppressed within the milieu of a pandemic. Over the course of a year, I engaged in various creative practices to capture my own lived experiences of teaching in the age of a global pandemic. This inquiry is predominantly centred around a series of short ‘factional’ stories (Gouzouasis & Ryu, 2015) written in the genre of creative nonfiction, a feature of contemporary autoethnography. Additionally, I integrate elements of poetic inquiry, photography, and aligned textile arts to deepen my reflexive inquiry and position my work as a/r/tography. Storying my experiences, whether through creative nonfiction, poetry, or visual text, reveals an avenue for embracing my practice as a form of ‘living inquiry’ (Aoki, 2005).

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Reggio's Arpeggio: An autoethnographic tale of a music teacher's explorations with Reggio Emilia (2015)

The Reggio Emilia approach to early childhood education has been globally recognized by educators and researchers as the most exceptional example of quality early education (Gardner, 1999; Kantrowitz & Wingert, 1991). However, within this approach there is a strong emphasis on the visual arts that in turn has diminished opportunities for children to participate in music activities. Andress (1998) was the first to expose the lack of music in this approach, and her concern was echoed by Matthews (2000), O’Hagin (2007), Vuckovic & Nyland (2010), and Smith (2011). As a result of this void, the present investigation explores the philosophies and practices of the Reggio Emilia approach within a kindergarten to grade seven elementary school music program. Specifically, I examine the role of the child, the role of the teacher, the environment as a third teacher, multiple forms of knowing, the role of documentation, and the Atelier.I use an autoethnographic approach to implement, reflect, and document this experience. I not only discover that Reggio Emilia can be successful within a music classroom setting, but argue that these philosophies and practices are of great importance to understanding new ways in which music educators can benefit from this approach beyond the scope of traditional programs and approaches to music with children. By adapting this approach to a music setting in grades higher than the early childhood years, my research extends the current Reggio literature. I not only present my struggles during this experience, but also explain how to supersede challenges and draw from the strengths of this approach that were exposed within the scope of my music program.

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Music as a "language" of expression for understanding multiplication in Grade Three (2010)

AbstractThis study explored how music could be used as a language of expression forunderstanding multiplication for grade three children. Using a/r/tography as a researchmethodology, a class of grade three students, their teacher, and I worked together on a coemergentinquiry project to create musical compositions that conveyed meanings aboutmultiplication to the listener.The design of this a/r/tographic inquiry involves the components of the cyclicalInquiry Process used by the International Baccalaureate program, as well as the ReggioEmilia’s approach, known as Progettazione, which involves emergent, child centered projectwork.Through my research I offer credence to the area of interdisciplinary studies at theearly childhood level. Such studies support the development of new notions and forms ofmusic instruction—created by and for children—that advance both music and relatedlearning. As is evident in my account, I demonstrated how music (1) can be taught in and ofitself, (2) can be thought of as a medium (i.e., a “language,” as in the Reggio definition) forthe expression of concepts in multiplication, (3) is instrumental in fostering knowledge ofboth musical and mathematical concepts, and (4) when linked with mathematics, can showlearning transfer and access related learning between the two disciplines. This studycontributes to on-going scholarly conversations concerning the present structure and role ofthe music teacher (and other “specialists”) in our schools.

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