Personal and Professional Characteristics of Music Education Professors: Factors Associated with Expectations and Preferences of Undergraduate Students
Tiger Robison, University of Wyoming
The purpose of this study was to examine music education undergraduate students’ expectations of and preferences for their music education faculty members’ personal and professional backgrounds and compare them to the actual backgrounds of current music education professors. The seminal studies about music education professor characteristics are the Hewitt and Thompson (2006) and Brewer and Rickels (2012) studies, and I essentially solicited undergraduate students’ perspectives on this information. I hoped to gain a better understanding of undergraduates’ expectations of who their professors should be and what experiences they think make professors best able to lead them to become effective music educators. The research questions were:
1. Do music education undergraduate students expect or prefer their music education faculty members to have certain experiences and knowledge, or demonstrate particular personality traits?
2. Do music education undergraduate students have an accurate concept of the workload and compensation of a typical music education faculty member as it currently exists?
3. Are music education undergraduate students’ expectations of and preferences for their music education faculty members similar to what we know about a typical music teacher educator?
Participants (N = 293) from 55 randomly selected NASM accredited institutions completed a researcher-created questionnaire. Section One contained items designed to elicit undergraduates’ perceptions about their music education professors’ actual and ideal workloads, salary, and how many years of practitioner teaching. For example, the first item read, “On average, how many years of PK–12 school teaching experience do you believe your music education faculty members have prior to teaching at a college or university?” and the second item read, “On average, how many years of PK–12 school teaching experience do you believe your music education faculty members SHOULD have prior to teaching at a college or university?” There were similar two-tailed items like this for weekly hours spent teaching, researching, and in university service as well as salary amount for newly-hired professors. In Section Two, participants rated items on a five-point Likert-type scale (“Not important” to “Very important”) about professors’ precollegiate experiences such as “Achieving high ensemble ratings” or “Working with special needs students.” They also rated items about professors’ knowledge and abilities such as “Curriculum design” and “Creating new knowledge for the profession.” Section Three contained an identical rating system for professors’ personality traits and Section Four contained demographic information.
Participants expected and preferred their music education faculty members to have approximately nine years of PreK–12 teaching experience (M = 9.15, SD = 4.81; and M = 9.17, SD = 5.64). Participants most valued their music education professors’ experiences in assessment and classroom management and least valued experiences in rural area teaching and success at achieving high festival ratings for ensembles. For professors’ current skills and abilities, participants most valued verbal communication, rehearsal techniques, and teaching pedagogy while least valuing skills in music composition, music history, and non-Western musics. Participants preferred their professors to be kind, flexible, and empathetic, while least preferring them to be serious, humorous, and sympathetic.
Brewer, W. D., & Rickels, D. A. (2012). Demographics and faculty time allocation of music education professors in the United States. Journal of Research in Music Education, 22(1), 63–74. doi:10.1177/1057083711424504
Hewitt, M., & Thompson, L. (2006). A survey of music teacher educators’ professional backgrounds, responsibilities and demographics. Bulletin of the Council for Research in Music Education, 170, 47–61.