Research Gallery Abstracts 2011 Part One
The Alumni Cohort Project (ACP): Utilizing Alumni Cohorts to Provide Multiple Data Sets for Program Evaluation
By Susan Avery and Keith Kaiser
Undergraduate program assessment is difficult for many reasons, some of which may be ongoing communication with graduates, unbiased evaluation from reliable sources, and commitment to the activity. Furthermore, institutional accreditations have begun to place greater and far-reaching emphasis on program assessment in the area of graduate success in the professional field.
In order to secure multi-point data regarding our graduates’ success, the Music Education Department of Ithaca College has instituted an ongoing Alumni Cohort Project (ACP). This alumni cohort consists of approximately 6-10 graduates of our program who are 1-5 years out from the completion of their bachelor’s degree. This cohort will change personnel as the project progresses; it is hoped each alumni will be a part of the project for two years. Participants will provide data indicating their level of preparedness resulting from their college education. This alumni cohort graduate preparedness data will provide important additional data beyond the traditional program evaluation data sets (course-based data, candidate evaluations, including fieldwork, proficiency evaluation, and alumni survey and program review survey with data provided by cooperating teachers, colleagues, and employers/administrators of our graduates, etc.). The ACP will result in an annual analysis designed both to provide guidance for program assessment and to drive program and curriculum planning and development.
Teaching for Transfer: Critical Thinking in the Choral Rehearsal
By Sandra Babb
Aaron Copland School of Music Queens College CUNY
Co-authors: Jessica Napoles, University of Utah; Matthew Garrett, Case Western Reserve University; Judy Bowers, Florida State University; Angel Vazquez-Ramos, Chapman University
The purpose of this study was to examine whether undergraduate music education students (N = 54) could increase their time spent incorporating critical thinking skills in choral rehearsals. Participants led one choral rehearsal (pre-test) then received instruction in Bloom’s taxonomy, with appropriate terminology and defining of categories. The experimental group also received instruction in the revised Bloom’s taxonomy, including musical transfers for each of the subcategories and an instructor-led simulated rehearsal incorporating critical thinking skills. Both groups then led a second rehearsal (post-test) and were asked to incorporate critical thinking skills. All rehearsals were video taped, and analyzed with SCRIBE. Results indicate that all participants increased their time spent in critical thinking skills from pre-test to post-test (p < .05), and post-test scores (expressed as percentages of rehearsal time) of the experimental group (M = 13.93) were significantly different from those of the control group (M = 2.76).
Perceptions of Music Education Majors Regarding Improvisation
By Christian Bernhard
Educators and researchers have advocated the use of improvisation as an instructional technique in music classrooms and rehearsals (e.g., Azzara, 2002; Feldman & Contzius, 2011; Higgins & Shehan-Campbell, 2010). These scholars contend that improvisation activities afford students unique means of representing aural and notational stimuli and hence, may aid in the comprehension and performance of music. Within the community of general education, the Partnership for 21st Century Skills (2011) – a group established to promote skills and knowledge needed for future success – states that all students should have experiences with critical thinking and problem solving, communication, collaboration, as well as creativity and innovation. Furthermore, the third content standard of the National Standards for Arts Education includes the statement that students studying music in kindergarten through grade twelve should have experiences “improvising melodies, variations, and accompaniments” (MENC, 1994, p. 1).
Despite these recommendations, researchers have found that many music teachers feel inadequately prepared or motivated to teach improvisation (Bell, 2003; Brophy, 2002; Byo, 1999; Madura, 2007; Riveire, 1997; Wilson, 2003). While these authors have painted a clear picture regarding attitudes and abilities of inservice music teachers, less is known about perceptions of preservice educators. Will current music education majors report similar concerns, or have recent publications and teaching strategies helped to change perceptions? The purpose of this study will be to survey music education majors regarding perceptions of improvisation. Subjects for the study will be approximately 400 music education majors from a state university in western New York, who will respond to questions from a researcher-constructed survey regarding attitude and ability to implement improvisation. Descriptive statistics will be reported, as will comparisons by respondent year in school (i.e., freshman, sophomore, junior, senior, or masters) and program concentration (i.e., instrumental or vocal/general), and implications for practice and further research will be suggested.
College Music Students Use of Time
By Debra Campbell
Crane School of Music SUNY Potsdam
Many researchers (Tanriogen, 2009; Forbus, 2010; Janusik, 2009) have been interested in the way in which college students spend their time, both in and out-side of class. The majority of previous studies have been completed with students who are not majoring in music. The few music time studies (Byo & Cassidy, 2008; Williamon & Valentine, 2002) focus on quality and quantity of musical instrument practice time. Since college music students split their time among many areas within music as well as general academic study in addition to time practicing their instrument or voice, their use of time may be substantially different than other students who have a dissimilar focus. In addition, many music students express dissatisfaction with the perceived unreasonable workload. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to examine and describe music students’ use of time in relation to the requirements of their university degree work.
University undergraduate music students who are majoring in Music Education and Music Performance complete(d) a weekly diary. Data were collected during Spring 2011 and will continue to be collected in Fall 2011. These data will be analyzed for relevant themes and related to current research. Preliminary analysis indicates that many Music Education students spend most of their time focusing on performance related activities. Studying for academic courses seems to be completed very late in the evening. Complete analysis and reflection will be reported along with suggestions for current practice and future research.
Meaningful Music Experiences for Students with Autism: A Case Study
By Emily Gaines
University at Buffalo, SUNY
A case study was developed to describe an autistic student’s music development when specific strategies indicated in the Social Communication, Emotional Regulation and Transactional Support (SCERTS) model were implemented to assist the child with emotional and social behaviors in the music classroom.The action research cycle (plan, action, observe, and reflect) (Kemmis & McTaggart, 1988) was employed during this case study
The subject Solomon, is a 10 year old 5th grader who attends music with his regular classroom, a sheltered 5:1:1. I met with Solomon and his class for ten, thirty-minute sessions. I began with a specific plan of instruction but changed my plans as the study went on, in response to the behavior I observed.
The study began with a plan to incorporate relaxing background music at the beginning of each class. From there, I planned to work with students on various percussion instruments to eventually be able to play in a rotating circle. This plan was chosen because Solomon needed to improve independent learning skills, socialization skills and appropriate emotional responses with teachers and peers.
Through research, I was able to pin-point key struggles that affect Solomon’s music learning. Solomon responded more to emotional issues than he did to the type of music activity I presented in class. Solomon was able to engage in large motor activities, such as keeping a steady beat and moving his feet back and forth during a dance activity. However, he was not able to move both his arms and legs in more complicated dance movements or play complicated rhythms on an instrument. Solomon appeared to enjoy music when he was emotionally stable, participating actively and accurately. Realizing that Solomon’s success improved drastically when he closed his eyes was another intriguing aspect of this study.
This case study highlights many issues and solutions for students with autism in the music classroom. It is important for educators to realize that every person diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder is unique. While there is some research being done in the field of music therapy, music educators must do more research to address the needs of special education students. First and foremost, it seems that a good rapport with each student is crucial for success. A student with autism often responds well to familiarity, kindness and patience. In the future, I would like to do more with background music and song lyrics to address specific emotional responses.
The Role of Technology in Music Classrooms: Three Case Studies of School Music Teachers
By Yue Ji
University at Buffalo, SUNY
While advancements in information technology have been quite rapid in recent years, music educators sometimes have been slow to embrace what technology can do for their programs, for them as teachers and for their students. The purpose of this study was to gain insight with regard to the use of IT-assisted instruction in music classrooms. Data were collected through online and face to face interviews. The interviewees were experienced classroom music teachers representing elementary through high school. Preliminary findings are 1) use of information technology in music teaching can stimulate students’ interest; 2) information technology cannot replace teacher’s instruction; and 3) using information technology can improve teacher’s instruction.
At this time, there is additional transcription and coding to take place. Once the coding is completed, a cross case analysis looking for similarities and differences will be conducted. Also the interviewees will review and comment upon the findings.
Measuring Teaching Effectiveness with Initially Certified Music Educators: Is there only one way?
By Keith Koster
The purpose of this study was to determine what kinds of feedback pertaining to teaching effectiveness would be beneficial for initially certified music educators in New York. Participants (N = 28) completed a forced-answer and open-ended questionnaire that included a variety of established procedures that can measure a teacher’s effectiveness in the classroom. Regardless of subject area, grade level, and full or part-time employment status, a clear majority of participants believed that (a) follow-up meetings with mentors after an observation, (b) share time with other music educators, (c) off-site visits to observe other master teachers in action, (d) time alone or with others to review and discuss current research about teaching effectiveness strategies and (e) presenting teaching demonstrations in the form of a performance-based master class model led by a master teacher would be positive ways to both measure and improve their teaching. Real-time feedback in front of learners, and no formal observations but one-to-one meetings with a master teacher were perceived as least beneficial. Additional open-ended responses were solicited that indicated that in today’s economic climate, initially certified music teachers are anxious about evaluations of their work, job security, and financing graduate work in the future. Implications for further research are presented.
The Effects of Participation in the Alexander Technique on Female Violinists and Violists
Aaron Copland School of Music Queens College CUNY
The primary purposes of this mixed-methods study were to (a) determine what effects, if any, participation in 20 AT lessons has on the sample of female violinists’ and violists’ Pain, Executive Skill Function, Well-being and Awareness, and (b) to describe the experiences of the participants in the study intervention. The secondary purpose of this study was to explore how participation in AT affected the female violinists’ self-reported experience of playing.
Due to the prevalence of performance-related injuries in female string players, it was theorized that AT could provide a means for improvement. This study employed a mixed methods design using pretest and posttest questionnaires, observations, and semi-structured interviews. The surveys and interviews were used to explore how participation in AT affects playing experiences.
The 12-week study was performed in a major metropolitan city and participants were female violinists and violists between the ages of 18 and 34 with no previous AT training. Criterion sampling was employed and 51 participants were randomly assigned to either the control group (n = 26) or the treatment group (n = 25). The intervention included AT lessons two times a week over a 10-week period. Six case study participants were selected from the treatment group to participate in the qualitative interview portion of the study.
The quantitative findings demonstrated statistically significant changes in Awareness and Executive Skill Function, while only approaching statistical significance for Pain and Well-being. In the qualitative analysis, themes that were explored included the dependent variables, as well as teaching and learning, AT principles, tools, and applications. The qualitative data provided evidence of improvement in all four a priori variables.
Convergence of the quantitative and qualitative data helped corroborate the statistically significant findings for Awareness and Executive Skill Function and provide convincing data that there was improvement in Pain, while data for Well-being improvement was inconclusive. Recommendations for application of these findings and suggestions for further research are included.
Adults’ Perceptions of Their Experiences in a Teacher-Student Rock Band
By Jill Reese
Music education has experienced an influx of scholarship and practice inspired by informal music teaching and learning practices outside the realm of traditional music education. Researchers have investigated young musicians’ experiences in the context of informal music learning paradigms such as rock bands, and have suggested implications for music pedagogy, K- 12 music curricula, and teacher education programs. Though researchers often focus on students’ experiences in informal teaching and learning situations, few focus on teachers’ experiences participating with students in informal learning contexts.
The purpose of this case study in progress is to examine and document the perspectives and experiences of teachers who are participating in an intergenerational, teacher-student rock band. Research questions that guide this inquiry are (1) How do these teachers describe their social and musical interactions with other band members (students and other teachers)? (2) How do they describe their growth as people, musicians, and teachers? and (3) How have their rock band experiences influenced their perceptions of teaching and learning, if at all?
Each teacher will participate in three interviews. First, teachers will participate in a group interview that focuses on their perceptions of experiences in the band, and on the influences of these experiences on perceptions of teaching and learning. Second, each teacher will participate in an individual interview that focuses on prior personal and school music experiences, and current experiences in the rock band. Third, they will participate in a final group interview that focuses on their experiences interacting as members of a rock band. During the third interview, they will use a retrospective talk-aloud protocol while watching video from their band’s rehearsals and performances to reflect on and talk about their social and musical interactions. During the transcription process, the researcher will code data and engage in constant comparative analysis to examine narratives that elucidate the guiding research questions.
The results from this study could inform music teachers’ and music teacher educators’ understanding of this type of informal teaching and learning, and may suggest ways in which the experiences of the teachers in this study might transfer to adults in other teaching and learning situations.
High School Student Perspectives on Developing Musicianship in the Instrumental Music Ensemble
By Alden Snell Eastman School of Music email@example.com and
David Stringham James Madison University firstname.lastname@example.org
Researchers suggest that the instrumental music profession is primarily concerned with notation decoding, at the expense of reading with comprehension. A variety of resources are available for teachers; however, these materials do not prioritize musical behaviors that researchers report are related to music comprehension (i.e., singing, movement, and tonal and rhythm pattern instruction). We have developed materials prioritizing these musical behaviors, designed to help improve individual musicianship in instrumental music ensembles.
Our proposed report will document the third phase of an ongoing research project, in which we have studied the effectiveness of researcher-developed materials. In the first phase of this research, we met with six in-service instrumental music teachers to review researcher-developed teaching materials. In the second phase, one in-service teacher documented perceived effects of teaching with these materials on both teacher and student musicianship. Teachers in both phases of the study reported that their musicianship is insufficient to engage students in singing, movement, tonal and rhythm pattern instruction, improvisation, and composition, perhaps due to the lack of emphasis on these skills in undergraduate and graduate teacher preparation. For example, the in-service teacher felt comfortable teaching melodies, bass lines, tonal patterns, and rhythm patterns, but did not teach students to improvise or compose. The purpose of the current study is to examine perceptions of students learning melodies, bass lines, tonal patterns, and rhythm patterns extracted from a piece of repertoire using researcher-developed materials.
With the purpose of improving instrumental music instruction, we will describe experiences of students in a non-auditioned high school concert band who learn music using a researcher-developed model for teaching instrumental music. The following questions are guiding our research: (a) What are music achievement levels of students who are taught using researcher-developed materials? (b) What are relationships among stabilized music aptitude, vocal music achievement, and instrumental music achievement? (c) How do descriptive statistics for this administration of Advanced Measures of Music Audiation (AMMA, Gordon, 1989) compare with others found in literature? and (d) How do students describe their experiences being taught using researcher-developed materials? The following data has been collected, and is currently being analyzed: (a) student responses to a survey; (b) students’ vocal and instrumental performances of melodies, bass lines, tonal patterns, and rhythm patterns taught during the study; and (c) student perspectives gathered in two focus groups.
Collegiate Musicians’ Perspectives on Learning to Improvise
By Alden Snell email@example.com and
Chris Azzara firstname.lastname@example.org
Eastman School of Music
Existing literature highlights the importance of improvisation in music education. Analogous to conversation in language, improvisation is the spontaneous expression of music vocabulary and provides a means for assessing student understanding of that vocabulary. Researchers also call for a deeper understanding of improvisation as a context for reading comprehension.
Subjects in this study were enrolled in a half-semester class that met weekly for two hours during the Spring 2011 semester at this school of music. Data was collected using the following procedures: (a) a brief survey; (b) two half-hour interviews with volunteer subjects; and (c) evaluation of students’ recorded and transcribed improvisations. Initial findings include: (a) participants felt the process of learning to improvise taught in this class was sequential and logical; (b) participants reported little meaningful improvisation experiences in their K-12 music education; and (c) the pressures of performing repertoire in lessons, concerts, and juries prevented these participants from fully embracing improvisation in their personal music practice.
Further research is needed to improve in-service music educators’ practice; studying collegiate students’ experiences in learning to improvise may be a logical addition to the literature. With the purpose of improving improvisation instruction, this research will document the experiences of undergraduate and graduate students at a school of music in the northeastern United States learning to improvise. The following questions guide this research: (a) How do undergraduate and graduate students at a school of music in the northeastern United States describe the process of learning to improvise? (b) How do these students describe past improvisation experiences? and (c) What effect is learning to improvise having on these students’ current level of musicianship?