Research

A SNAAP-Shot of the Career Landscape for Music Educators

I’m excited to report that a recent study I worked on with doctoral student, Lauren Hime, has been featured by the National Association for Music Education on their association blog. We investigated the employment status, job satisfaction, and financial status of music education program alumni using data from a nation-wide, multi-institutional survey of collegiate music program alumni conducted by the Strategic National Arts Alumni Project (SNAAP).

The post highlights findings pertaining to (a) the time it takes to secure a position upon graduation, (b) job satisfaction, (c) whether music education alumni continue to perform while teaching, (d) the typical student loan debt incurred, and (e) reported salary ranges.

The blog post can be accessed at the link below:

A formal report of the research that is featured in the blog has been published in the journal, Arts Education Policy Review. The full report also includes data from alumni of music performance degrees and findings regarding all participants’ perceptions of their collegiate experience.

  • Miksza, P. & Hime, L. (2015). Undergraduate music program alumni’s career path, retrospective institutional satisfaction, and financial status. Arts Education Policy Review, 116, 176-188.

2016 IMEA Presentation

Hello!

Click below for slides from my presentation today at the Indiana Music Educator’s Professional Development Conference…

The science of music performance skill acquisition:
Planning, executing, and reflecting for achievement

Presentation slides

All the best,

Pete Miksza

Motivation: Growth, self-beliefs, and attributions, oh my…

This week I had the pleasure of giving an invited talk for the IU student chapter of the National Association of Teachers of Singing (IU SNATS). I’m fortunate to have the opportunity to work with extremely fine singers and committed vocal pedagogues on a regular basis in my courses and very much enjoyed speaking with the students of IU SNATS.

The talk I gave was on issues related to motivation for learning. I’ve attached a pdf of the powerpoint to this post via the image below. You’re welcome to download it to see the range of topics we discussed if you’re curious. The powerpoint also includes some basic texts and resources for reading about motivation in general and motivation in music learning more specifically. There is also a slide that includes links to some interesting web-resources for exploring these ideas further.

Miksza - Motivation presentation for IU SNATS - 2015

What was particularly enjoyable for me was that the talk gave me a chance to step back and think broadly about how several theoretical perspectives could be synthesized to address the components of music learning that are often heavily impacted by student motivation. The following set of reflective questions captures some of these components:

  • What drives you to choose to engage in learning in the first place?
  • What kinds of things contribute to the “degree” of energy you invest in this learning process?
  • What kinds of things contribute to the “degree” of quality and deliberateness you will apply to your learning process? In other words, the degree to which you’ll try to approach learning situations critically, thoughtfully, creatively, etc.
  • What will help you persist when you inevitably hit roadblocks and find yourself at a learning tableau or dipping into a negative attitude state?
  • What will stop you from giving up if learning gets tough?

I framed the main part of the discussion by describing how human needs for self-growth, flow, intrinsic satisfaction, and self-determination can lead people to seek out new experiences, work for mastery, and find personal meaning in their experiences. We also spent some time thinking about how social contexts created through teachers’ behaviors, studios/classrooms/rehearsal rooms, learning environments in general, etc. can serve to either support or thwart someone as they strive to satisfy these needs. The following points are a sample of what was addressed:

Contexts can be supportive or not…

  • Balancing the amount of structure/scaffolding provided and opportunities for independent work/decision making is important
  • Providing informational instruction (clues and ways to achieve objectives) vs. controlling rules (specific ways to do things) makes a difference
  • Giving opportunities to make choices vs. emphasizing interpersonal control in general is critical
  • Communicating evaluations as opportunities for improvement vs. as how something ‘should’ have been performed

We then moved through a cyclical set of motivational beliefs that have been shown to be related to learning in compelling ways. The powerpoint linked to this post includes summary points of some of the implications for pedagogy that each theoretical perspective suggests.

  • Mindset (Dweck)
    • Beliefs that abilities can be either fixed- or growth–oriented…
  • Self-efficacy (Bandura)
    • An individual’s beliefs in their own ability to produce an intended outcome on a specific task
  • Achievement goal orientations (Elliot)
    • The reasons why people aim to be competent and how they frame their own goals
  • Attributions (Weiner)
    • How the reasons people give for their successes and failures can impact their motivation and achievement in the future

We then ended the discussion by talking about some common motivational problems students experience and some general ideas for how to help them.

If a student’s needs are not met

  • The environment must feel like a safe place – physically and psychologically – this clearly has much larger ramifications for situations involving poverty, violent crime, discrimination, and/or harassment, etc.
  • Employ active approaches to help students develop positive feelings of competence and autonomy for the sake of esteem and self-determination
  • Employ active approaches to help students form productive relationships with each other
  • Provide preparation for students for how to interact with civility in a community
  • Employ active approaches to reducing the stressfulness of potentially competitive and high-stakes environment

If students are amotivated or lacking in apparent intrinsic motivation

  • Interventions can require altering the social context to help students integrate values of the environment to their own self
  • Make connections between activities and the students’ life goals and values
  • Make connections between activities and the values the students’ peer group recognize
  • Make connections to the values of the students’ significant others e.g., those they regard highly as role models
  • Provide opportunities for choice and for the student to feel in control of the environment
  • Give a secure foundation for building a sense of readiness – do not “throw into the fire”
  • Steer students away from performance-based goal orientations and towards mastery-oriented ideals (i.e., self-improvement)

If students demonstrate learned helplessness or self-handicapping

  • Vary goals according to individual students’ needs
  • Structure learning with an emphasis on short-term goals and develop them with the students
  • Provide frequent opportunity to acquire mastery and frequently document and display evidence of their growth (to them, not the class)
  • Teach students to avoid comparisons with others and encourage mastery goal orientations
  • Make it safe to ask for help by building it into the learning process as a required step
  • Do not over-assist and inadvertently communicate your belief in their lack of ability
  • Consider cooperative learning approaches

A SMiLE-ing experiment

I wanted to write a quick post to share my excitement about a new research group starting up at IU called: SMiLE: Science of Music in Learning and Experience.

The purpose of the group is to cultivate conversations about music research among students and faculty across departments in the school of music and across units on campus. So far, interest in the group has been expressed by grad students and faculty from… …Music (education, theory, conducting), Cognitive Science, Psychological and Brain Sciences, Telecommunications, Speech and Hearing, Informatics, Computer Science, Linguistics, and Second Language Studies. This image is a wordle of the groups’ collective interests from our first meeting.

Topics of interests

Our first two meetings were interdisciplinary, collegial, energetic, and overall – lots of fun. Many thanks to the colleagues and friends I spoke to who encouraged doing something like this and gave such great advice about how to do it. Many thanks too, to the wonderful colleagues and students taking time out of their busy days to join in the fun!

It’s sure to be a fun adventure and I’m excited for what the Spring may bring!

Artistry and Music Education

Some quick background…

What follows is a brief personal statement I shared at our first departmental music education research colloquium at IU this Fall. Each faculty member had an opportunity to share their thoughts about the intersections between artistry and various aspects of music education. It was terrific fun to hear everyone’s perspective and an energizing start to the year. I enjoyed thinking on the topic so much I thought I’d share my own excerpt here…

Artistry and music education in higher education: A personal view on the topic as a developing scholar of music teaching and learning

I truly enjoy thinking about intersections between artistry and music education. The tensions surrounding issues of identity that I and I am sure many others have experienced while going down the path of becoming a music teacher were profound and the personal growth and development that occurred was equally so. Embracing a multi-dimensional perspective of one’s identity and the professional roles one can play in the world is a notion I challenge all of the undergraduate music students I work with to grapple with. Considering how one’s artful musicianship can inform one’s music teaching is an important part of that challenge. Similarly, I believe that puzzling about how one could be artistic in their approach and application of pedagogy is valuable for all teachers who would like to make a positive and lasting impact on their students. Ultimately, an inclusive and flexible view of self seems likely to be a more productive perspective than a fixed and rigid view when it comes to doing good and personally fulfilling work in music education.

More recently, I’ve been thinking about the possible paths that might lead to stretching and reconceptualizing music teacher identity to incorporate that of a scholar. In my experience, it appears that the profound tensions and shifts in identity that pre-service music teachers experience as they ponder their roles as musicians and teachers are likely similar to those that an emerging scholar encounters as they begin to imagine themselves as researchers and music teachers in higher education throughout their time in graduate school. If a similar assumption holds here – that a more flexible and inclusive view of self could ultimately be more valuable than a fixed and rigid view – then I find myself wondering what it would mean to merge an artistic worldview of music education with a scholarly one and vice versa?

My goal in this informal talk of our introductory research colloquium is to try and explain how I’m beginning to see properties of artistry embodied in scholarship and the pursuit of research, given the role of scholarly activity in the functions of a music educator in higher education. More simply, I have been thinking about the questions: What might it mean to pursue scholarly work in music education with a sense of artistry? What if some of the most prominent virtues of artistic activity were mapped onto scholarly activity? I’ve tried to answer these questions by imagining ideas I might give my “13-year-ago” self… …someone starting out down the path of growing a scholarly identity around fairly well-established musical and pedagogical dimensions of self.

A quick side-note on artistry…

Whether it’s in regard to being a musician, a teacher, or a scholar, for me, artistry most often implies something extra-ordinary — a type of activity that is clearly beyond the mundane and everyday – it’s something special – something heavily soaked in personal meaning, activities with intense levels of engagement, and a mode of doing that can lead to transcendent experiences.

With that, some thoughts on artistry and scholarship…

Imbue the goals of your work with your unique perspective. An artist scholar seeks to make a contribution to the field that is both personally rewarding and enriching for the broader profession. An artist scholar aims to develop a personal voice. They work to develop a style of writing and communication in general that is their own. Moreover, an artist scholar either chooses work that is intrinsically meaningful or finds a way to inject intrinsic value in the work they are confronted with. Ultimately, their scholarly goals reflect their personal values and view of the world.

Embrace the same things an artist needs to embrace in order to carry out their best work. An artist scholar has very high regard for craft and skill in methods and techniques. They dedicate the time and energy necessary to refine their craft and strive for elegance in execution. An artistic approach to scholarship involves periods of immersion in their work and high levels of focus and concentration on the task at hand. It involves the deliberate practice of the skills necessary for conducting their research as well as the deliberate play necessary for energizing their approach. An artist scholar seeks inspiration from a wide variety of resources and muses and keeps an open mind.

Reward yourself for incremental successes and learn from your mistakes, but have high expectations, as any artist would – in other words, seek to transcend. An artist scholar respects the past but does not settle for stagnation or the status quo. They work to induce transformation and progress through their work – of themselves, of others, and of their field. Artist scholars will push themselves to learn, to grow, and to be more. Artist scholars push their field to consider new evidence, perspectives, and ideas.

In sum, what could I tell my “13-year-ago” self? I’d say to approach the goals, work, and expectations of scholarship as an artist would. I would challenge myself to be more than I was before. I would encourage myself to ask the following questions: “Are you an artist musician? Are you an artist teacher? Are you an artist scholar?” Perhaps, some of us here might consider asking yourselves… When I leave my music education experience at IU, will I be something I wasn’t before? You might aim to be a different musician, a different teacher, and also a scholar — and above all, to imbue each with artistry.

Research reads to keep you warm on cold winter nights

Because, really, what’s more comforting in the middle of winter than curling up with a great book on quantitative research design and/or statistical analysis!

🙂

This semester I have the pleasure of teaching a course on quantitative research methods for music education. In preparation for this class, I’ve been looking at all kinds of resources that could be helpful for the students (and me) to dig into compelling issues of research design and analysis. A couple of standouts from the pile of books I was wading through are listed below. In addition to being clearly written and approachable in style, each book does a great job elaborating on issues related to quantitative research that are often difficult to digest. These books aren’t designed to be suitable as a text for a music education research methods course, but, they’re certainly excellent supplements.

photo

(snowflake courtesy of Lucy Miksza, 5 yrs old)

Stanovich, K. E. (2001). How to think straight about psychology (6th ed.). Needham Heights, MA: Allyn & Bacon.

  • This book is a terrific, down-to-Earth read about some of the most basic characteristics of scientific inquiry. I particularly enjoy the discussions of scientific inquiry as a converging process, the importance of falsification, and the challenges inherent in probabilistic thinking. Being focused on the social science of psychology, it comes across as a good introduction to issues of scientific activity that comes across in a way that I think is relevant to many of the types of questions that music ed researchers may be interested in.

Abelson, R. (1995). Statistics as principled argument. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum Associates.

  • This is a humorous and plain-spoken collection of wisdom for those who are writing about statistical findings. The first chapter, “making claims with statistics,” raises a host of simple, yet important considerations for stats folk. All of the chapters, though, will be helpful – especially when thinking about developing a writing style.

Jaeger, R. M. (1990). Statistics as a spectators sport. Newbury Park, CA: Sage Publications.

  • I’ve relied on this book for one reason or another many times since getting bitten by the music ed research bug. This book lays out basic and intermediate statistical topics in an easy-to-grasp, conceptual manner. Jaeger’s explanations could be a great help for those who find that math and formulas seem to get in the way of understanding how statistical analysis techniques could serve music ed researchers. Or, if you’re looking for a book that ties together some loose ends and fills conceptual gaps – this could really help.

Experimenting with efficient practice: Plan-Perform-Reflect

I’m happy to be reporting on a recent study that I’ve had published in the journal, Psychology of Music:

The Effect of Self-Regulation Instruction on the Performance Achievement, Musical Self-efficacy, and Practicing of Advanced Wind Players

In essence, the study was designed to assess the relative benefits of (1) instruction for practicing that included explanations and demonstrations of self-regulated approaches to learning such as planning, goal-setting, self-evaluation, strategy use, and reflection as compared to (2) instruction that dealt with explanations and demonstrations of strategies use only. The study employed an experimental design with pre- and post-test measures of each outcome and randomized assignment of individuals to treatment and control groups. The participants for the study were undergraduate brass and woodwind players. They were asked to watch contrasting video demonstrations of practice approaches across 5 days. Ultimately, the results indicate a promising, positive effect of the self-regulation training.

If you’re interested in learning more about the work and seeing the video used for the experimental instruction… …check out this Prezi with narration in the pic below:

Practice Prezi Shot copy