Statistics

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.

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(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.
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Need summer reading ideas for nerds? Look no further!

Are you a nerd looking for a good read? This is a quick post about the reading I’ve been lucky enough to squeeze in this summer, maybe your nerdy side will enjoy some of it too.

It’s been a great summer of family time at home, trips to see friends and family afar, outdoor activity, research, writing, teaching – and – having a little bit of extra time each week to read purely for the sake of pleasure!

Here’s a quick list of some of the books I had a chance to read for fun since the spring semester wound down along with a silly synopsis of my take on each of them.*

AvidReader

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The Future of Music Education: Continuing the Dialogue about Curricular Reform

I’m excited to report the publication of a recent article I wrote for the Music Educators Journal titled: “The future of music education: Continuing the dialogue about curricular reform”

The heart of this article is captured in the opening quote: “The art of progress is to preserve order amid change and to preserve change amid order.” Alfred North Whitehead

In this article I highlight several trends regarding critical arguments that have recently been raised when discussing the secondary large-ensemble tradition in the public schools. In support of secondary school ensembles, I argue for a discussion of curricular reform that avoids polemical rhetoric, straw men, and hasty generalization. I also suggest taking special care when considering the incorporation of new technologies and popular music idioms in music education curricula.

I describe how critical energies might be redirected to what I see as urgent needs for the profession such as:

  • Directing advocacy efforts towards increasing access to music education for underserved populations of children
  • Focusing advocacy efforts towards enhancing support for foundational elementary music experiences
  • Transforming teaching to maximize what’s possible from within the large-ensemble model without needlessly tearing it down by:
    • Increasing the breadth of comprehensive musicianship experiences possible
    • Increasing the degree of individual student empowerment
    • Broadening the range of collaborative approaches to music-making that teach­ers and students could engage in
    • Broadening the inclusiveness of repertoire in large-ensemble curricula

After briefly, yet sincerely, acknowledging the certain need to expand curricular offerings for music in the secondary schools, I close with the following:

“…it will be necessary to cultivate dispositions of patience and reflection with visions of curricular transformation if we hope for significant and lasting changes in the nature and quality of music education for all.”

Please check out the full article here (free to all NAfME members – or email me if you’d like to read it):

Miksza, P. (2013). The future of music education: Continuing the dialogue. Music Educators Journal, 99, 45-50.

Arts Ed: Reasons to Advocate and Levers to Pull

Reasons to advocate: Inspiring stories

The collegiate chapter of the National Association for Music Education at IU (see their blog!) recently participated in the music advocacy groundswell event (found here) by collecting stories from children about why music matters to them. They made efforts to contact public school teachers in the greater Bloomington area and reached out to the teachers from their hometowns. They ended up collecting nearly 18,000 words worth of inspirational stories of how music has played an essential role in kids’ lives across the country.

The comments the children made are powerful to say the least… they speak of many benefits of music that we, as musicians and teachers, know to be true – finding a place to belong, uncovering a special talent, learning about themselves, developing a means of self-expression, bringing them closer together with friends and family, connecting to a greater community, music as a release and a joy, the acquisition of skills and dispositions that are benefits in other areas of life, etc.

Here is a word cloud from the collection of stories that emphasizes the sentiments the students most commonly expressed – click on it for a close-up:

Better wordle 2

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