Creating Artistry: Does Short-course Professional Development Prompt Experienced Music Teachers’ Growth?


Julia T. Shaw, The Ohio State University


In light of literature suggesting that effective professional development (PD) for music teachers offers a sustained experience with a mechanism for follow-up (Barrett, 2006; Richardson, 2003), the brevity of the popular summer short-course PD format raises questions about its potential to catalyze changes in teachers’ beliefs and practices. Accordingly, this study sought to contribute to a growing body of literature addressing PD for experienced music educators (see Bauer, 2007; Conway & Edgar, 2014) by investigating teacher growth in the context of a seven- day summer intensive workshop for choral teacher-conductors. Workshop participants attended sessions designed to extend pedagogical content knowledge, exploring topics such as vocal pedagogy, rehearsal planning, and conducting. A summer youth program met concurrently with the teacher workshop, providing opportunities for participants to receive feedback and mentoring from master teachers as they taught children in a naturalistic setting.


The purpose of the study was to explore how a short course PD format prompted experienced music teachers’ professional growth. Research questions explored relationships between the PD program and the teacher as learner and included the following:

1. How is the PD program structured to create a successful learning environment for experienced music teachers?

2. How do the PD providers foster teachers’ professional growth?

3. How does the program serve as a catalyst for teachers’ reflection on their beliefs and practices?

4. What are teachers’ perceptions of professional growth resulting from participation in the program a) during the workshop? and b) six months after completing the workshop?


Participants were selected using a “maximum variation strategy” (Creswell, 2007) and included two PD providers and seven workshop participants who were experienced music teachers. Data sources included field notes generated during non-participant observation of workshop sessions, semi-structured interviews, participants’ written reflections completed six months after attending the workshop, and collection of material culture. Interviews featured a stimulated recall strategy in which participants commented on self-selected videotaped episodes of their teaching that they considered illustrative of professional growth. The resulting data were analyzed recursively through an inductive process featuring the constant-comparative method (Glaser, 1965) and Creswell’s (2007) data analysis spiral. Credibility was sought through prolonged engagement, triangulation of data, member checking, and peer review (Creswell, 2007).


Emergent themes revolved around participants’ evolving visions of the role of the teacher-conductor, personal risks associated with teacher reflection, and conditions enabling professional growth and change. Specific enabling conditions for teacher reflection and growth in this PD context corresponded to components of quality PD identified by Barrett (2006) and Day (1999). Additionally, teachers perceived collaborative conversations with colleagues, the use of video to prompt reflection, engaging in music-making as PD, and their participation in this research process itself as programmatic elements that were conductive to teacher learning, perceptions that aligned with extant literature (Gruenhagen, 2008; Pellegrino, 2011; Sherin & Han, 2004; Stanley, 2011). The presentation will feature profiles of individual teacher-learners developed using Upitis, Smithrim, and Soren’s (1999) Matrix for Analyzing Teacher Transformation, which crystallize implications for policy and PD programming that meets the needs of music specialists.




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