Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2012

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

First Advisor

James R. Austin

Second Advisor

Margaret H. Berg

Third Advisor

Martina L. Miranda

Fourth Advisor

Daniel P. Sher

Fifth Advisor

A. Susan Jurow

Abstract

Research concerning undergraduate choral teacher education is relatively limited despite the fact that annually about 10,000 students are enrolled in choral music education degree programs and just under 2,000 graduate with credentials leading to a choral music teaching license. Few researchers have specifically focused on the question of choral music educator expertise or the types of knowledge and skill that should be cultivated during preservice training so as to ensure future professional success.

The primary purpose of this study was to determine how choral methods courses are structured and situated within the undergraduate choral music education curriculum, and the extent to which choral methods instructors emphasize major facets of choral music teacher knowledge and skill as defined by Shulman’s teacher knowledge framework:

Content Knowledge (CK), Pedagogical Knowledge (PK), and the merger of the two – Pedagogical Content Knowledge (PCK). Relationships among instructional emphasis ratings (reflecting amount of instructional time and assessment weight), methods course characteristics, choral methods instructor attributes, and instructor beliefs pertaining to the major categories of choral teacher knowledge and skill also were explored.

An on-line survey methodology was employed and the Choral Methods Instructor Inventory (CMII) was developed. The questionnaire items were created based upon previous work that explored choral and instrumental methods courses, investigations focused on utilizing Shulman’s framework in music teacher research, in consultation with experts, and through pilot testing. Content validity for items used to measure teacher knowledge orientation was established by expert music teacher educators, who independently classified specific knowledge and skill items with 91% agreement. Internal consistency estimates provide evidence of adequate-to-strong levels of reliability. To access the target population (choral methods course instructors) a multi-step sampling process was utilized as follows: (a) NASM-accredited schools offering an undergraduate degree leading to a music teaching license were identified; (b) music administrators at those schools were contacted to obtain the choral methods instructor’s email address; (c) when follow-up inquiries to these administrators did not yield the information, the school’s faculty biography section was searched in an effort to identify the person most likely to teach choral methods; and (d) these individuals were sent an invitation to participate in the study.

Music instructors representing 490 NASM-accredited schools were invited to participate. Of those, 242 (49%) responded to Section I items that address institutional demographics, but 60 (25%) indicated that a stand-alone secondary choral methods course is not offered at their institution. This left a pool of 376 eligible participants and 161 completed all CMII items. This 43% (161 instructors out of 376) response rate exceeds typical rates associated with web-based survey formats, and study participants represent a sizable population whose responses provide significant contributions for the choral teacher education profession. The typical choral methods class occurs as a two or three credit hour course taught in one semester. Only 60% of schools offer a concurrent field experience with the choral methods class. Course instructors typically have an undergraduate degree in music education with an emphasis in voice training, graduate degrees and work experience in either choral conducting or music education, teaching experience primarily at the college level and some at K-12 levels. Instructors with a doctoral degree in music education or teaching responsibilities in music education were more inclined to emphasize PCK development in the choral methods class. Overall, instructors rated each area – CK, PK and PCK – as critically important or very important and emphasized specific PCK knowledge/skill items slightly more than PK items, but significantly more so than CK items.

A conceptual model based upon Shulman’s teacher knowledge framework is presented and specific factors (instructor work experience and educational background, specialized and contextualized training and field experiences, and time and credit hour realities) that may impact the knowledge and skills emphasized in the choral methods class are discussed. Implications for choral music teacher educators and avenues for future research are explored.

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