Impacts of Mentoring on the Reflective Practice, Teaching Efficacy, and Professional Commitment of Beginning Music Teachers


Bryan Koerner, University of Colorado Boulder


Beginning teachers (i.e., in years 1-4 of their careers) typically face challenges that cannot be anticipated in advance of their inservice careers (Feiman-Nemser, 2003). To help support beginning teachers during this initial career phase, an increasing number of states and school districts have implemented formal mentoring programs. Such supports tend to aid beginning teachers' abilities to critically examine their practices, improve their confidence within the classroom, and as a result may make them more committed to the profession (Coladarci, 1992; Braun & Crumpler, 2004; Woolfolk Hoy & Spero, 2005).


Recognizing the need for mentoring, many music education researchers have described the mentoring experiences of beginning music teachers (e.g., Conway, 2003; DeLorenzo, 1992). Additionally, music educators and music teacher educators within SMTE's Supporting Beginning Music Teachers Area of Strategic Planning group have recently explored state mentoring requirements and the availability of music-specific mentoring programs within state music education associations. Although these descriptive investigations have contributed to the body of literature, only three music-specific investigations have quantitatively examined mentoring, and of these only one researcher has quantitatively explored school-level mentoring programs within the past 15 years. To date, no music education researcher has designed a multi-state, multi-region survey of district-level mentoring programs, explored beginning music teachers' perceptions of their mentors and mentoring experiences using psychometrically sound multi-item rating scales, or attempted to assess the impact of school mentoring experiences on important psychological constructs such as reflective practice, teaching efficacy, or professional commitment through the use of path analysis techniques. Such an investigation may help generate policy recommendations specific to mentoring programs.


The purpose of this study was to investigate the role of mentoring programs in promoting the growth of beginning music teachers' reflective practice, teaching efficacy, and professional commitment. The Beginning Music Teacher Mentoring Questionnaire (BMTMQ), a combination of researcher-designed items and instruments for measuring reflective practice, teaching efficacy, and professional commitment, was sent electronically to beginning music teachers within 10 states at two points in time: November 2016 and March 2017. Respondents in the fall (N = 265) were invited to participate again in the spring, of which 165 completed the BMTMQ.


During this research presentation, I will discuss the comprehensiveness of beginning music teachers' school mentoring programs, compare these programs to "best practices" as recommended within the extant literature, and use path analysis techniques to illustrate the impacts of mentoring programs and mentor effectiveness on reflective practice, teaching efficacy, and professional commitment. The findings of this session align with the Symposium theme of "Imagining Possible Futures" by providing music teacher educators and those interested in mentoring policy and practices with empirical evidence as to the impacts of school mentoring programs.




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Coladarci, T. (1992). Teachers’ sense of efficacy and commitment to teaching. Journal of Experimental Education, 60, 323–337. doi:10.1080/00220973.1992.9943869

Conway, C. M. (2003). An examination of district–sponsored beginning music teacher mentor practices. Journal of Research in Music Education, 51, 6–23. doi:10.2307/3345645

DeLorenzo, L. (1992). Perceived problems of beginning music teachers. Bulletin of the Council for Research in Music Education, 113, 9–25.

Feiman-Nemser, S. (2003). What new teachers need to learn. Educational Leadership, 60(8), 25–29.

Woolfolk Hoy, A., & Spero, R. B. (2005). Changes in teacher efficacy during the early years of teaching: A comparison of four measures. Teaching and Teacher Education, 21(4), 343–356. doi:10.1016/j.tate.2005.01.007