Pre-Service Music Teachers' Preferences of Feedback Modes

 

Danelle Larson, Eastern Illinois University

dlarson@eiu.edu

Todd M. French, Eastern Illinois University

tmfrench@eiu.edu

 

The purpose of this study was to investigate the value of feedback types on pre- service music teachersŐ instruction practice. The study focused on teacher educator practices in a methods course designed for students in an instrumental concentration, addressing the critical examination of the curriculum Area of Strategic Planning and Action.

 

Participants were nine members of an instrumental methods class at a regional state university in the Midwest. Coursework is designed to integrate pedagogy, conducting, and secondary instrument performance experience. Students were assigned five different teaching assignments and rotated instruction days. The course was team-taught, and instructors were consistent with each other on feedback modes. Students completed a survey after each unit that reported their perceptions of the feedback. Data was collected throughout the semester and analyzed at the completion of the 2014 fall academic term.

 

Feedback modes varied with each unit and students were asked to rate the value and effectiveness of each, and after completion of the semester they ranked the modes from most to least valuable.

 

Feedback was presented in the following ways:

1) Instructors interrupted the student during the lesson, provided immediate feedback, and asked the student to implement suggestions on the spot. After the lesson, peers and instructors provided verbal feedback and instructors gave written feedback.

2) Peers provided verbal feedback after the lesson, but instructors did not provide any comments until after the student completed a self-reflection.

3) Instructors interrupted students during the lesson, provided immediate feedback and asked students to implement suggestions. No additional feedback was shared until students completed the written self-reflection.

4) Students met individually with one of the professors outside of class to review the teaching video and conference together. Sessions lasted 20-30 minutes each.

5) Peers and instructors provided verbal feedback and instructors gave written feedback immediately following the lesson.

 

Survey results indicate that students place high value on comments and feedback of instructors, and ranked peer feedback very low. All participants ranked the individual conference with a professor either first or second, and the majority ranked the second mode (no professor feedback until after the self-reflection is complete) last. Some participants felt that being interrupted during the lesson was extremely valuable, while others felt it was not helpful because they lost focus after being stopped. Open-ended responses reflect student desire to please professors and students were very uncomfortable completing a self-evaluation prior to receiving feedback.

The researchers are using this best practice data to rethink and reformat feedback methods for future classes. Based on the results, the researchers believe that it is most beneficial to vary feedback modes rather than continue with one model. Students need more practice critically reflecting on their own work prior to receiving instructor and peer feedback. The overwhelming positive response to individual conferences indicates that this practice needs to be continued. Participants were more comfortable being interrupted when the teaching task was simple, and less comfortable while teaching a complex lesson. Results of the study will continue to inform future curriculum and course activities.