CRITERIA FOR DESIGNING PARTNERSHIPS FOR MUSIC TEACHER EDUCATION BETWEEN HIGHER EDUCATION INSTITUTIONS AND K-12 SCHOOLS FOR FIELD EXPERIENCE AND STUDENT TEACHING

 

Mary A. Mundy

West Chester University of Pennsylvania

maryamundy@comcast.net

mmund@spring-ford.net

 

 

            This study seeks to define criteria for implementing partnerships between higher education institutions offering four-year degrees in music education and K-12 schools, for the purpose of providing directed authentic-context field experiences and student teaching. Elements of shared decision-making responsibilities and curricular design will be included.

            In southeastern Pennsylvania there are higher education institutions of varying size that offer four-year degree programs in music teacher education. The balance of methods classes, field experiences, and student teaching is critical to producing comprehensively prepared music educators. The transfer of learning from the methods class to the teaching environment is the core of the degree program, with as its key component, the development of a collaborative relationship between higher education institutions and K-12 schools, one that benefits all parties involved – the student teacher, the K-12 school, and the higher education institution.

            Two surveys were created for this study to determine the degree to which student teachers and cooperating teachers in southeastern Pennsylvania feel the balance of methods classes, field experiences and student teaching impacts the preparation and readiness of the music teacher education students. Questions addressing the quality of the collaborative process between the higher education institutions and the K-12 schools were also a significant function of the surveys.

            Almost all the cooperating teachers and the student teachers agreed that the music teacher education students benefit greatly from directed early and often field experiences, citing the experiences as a significant link in the process of making the connection between methods classes and authentic student teaching.

Input from K-12 school administrators and higher education faculty is included when discussing the needs of all parties in determining curriculum at each level. Seventy-five percent of the cooperating teacher respondents did not feel part of a collaborative partnership with the higher education institutions in facilitating the student teacher process. Analysis of the responses from the cooperating teachers and the student teachers reveals a significant need for improvement in the quality of the collaborative process at each level of participation based on the conclusion that a true collaboration only exists when all parties involved have equal opportunity to provide input in determining the nature of the collaboration and its parameters.