Using Mentoring To Improve Student Teacher Teaching Education Essay

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The Music Department Faculty of Art and Music of a university in the State of Perak, Malaysia offer a 4-year teacher's training program in preparation for students' career as music educators in secondary schools in Malaysia. They take courses including methodology and techniques classes for string, woodwind, percussion, and brass. Professional musicians are also invited to share their skills, knowledge and experience with the students. At the final year of the students, they are required to take SMT 1461 Ensemble Five, a course teaching and providing experience through performance to develop their musicianship and professionalism in music teaching and coaching.

Statement of the Problem

Research Problem. In spite of the goal of the course to inculcate professionalism and musicianship to the students, it is observed that the students portray inappropriate understanding of teaching approach to music interpretation and expression. They demonstrate poor pedagogical approach-do not perceive score analysis, use of metaphor, expressive verbal communication and instruction, movement and gesture, audio and visual teaching aids as important elements for music interpretation and expression.

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Background. The SMT 1461, Ensemble Five course requires every student to coach the ensemble members to perform a short excerpt of a musical piece for their final assessment. This evaluates students' pedagogical competency in teaching instrumental music ensemble and contributes 40% of the overall assessment for the course. The evaluation and assessment criteria are based on: a) teaching sequence, b) teaching approach, and c) teaching tool and material.

Based on the 2009 annual assessment report of the course, 2 out of 18 students received the grade of A-, 8 received B+, and another 8 student's received B as their final grading. The report mentioned that, student are able to apply good teaching sequence and have conducted good pedagogical skill in developing technical mastery. However, most of them did not use appropriate approach when confronting with soliciting for better music interpretation and expression. Likewise, it is reported that 2 out of 18 students apply expressive communication style, while others seems to have missed it. In addition, most students fail to demonstrate expressive movement, facial gesture, and use metaphor in enabling the musician to feel the emotion and make them understand how to express the feeling with their instruments.

Most of these students do not use appropriate tool and material to establish the music interpretation and expression. Only 2 out of 18 students extremely used the music score and audio-visual recording to analyze and interpret the music score. Few students' uses similar approach but fail to achieve the objective due to inexpressive teaching instruction and bad audio visual recording. In addition, students displayed poor preparation on score analysis and lack of confidence to express verbal and non verbal communication, demonstration, and movement.

Audience. The primary audience or beneficiaries of this research are the students. To promote mentoring as a teaching approach for music interpretation and expression will enhance the students' pedagogical skills and develop their confidence to exude verbal and non-verbal communication, demonstration and movement. This is as important as the technical mastery that the students already posses. The secondary audience of this study is the course teachers who may opt to emphasize mentoring as a teaching approach for the course. Likewise, future students of this course shall have the idea to adopt mentoring as their pedagogical approach when they take SMT 1464 Ensemble Five.

Purpose of the Study

The objective of this study is to identify the knowledge, attitude and practices (KAP) of the students regarding mentoring as a more appropriate teaching approach for music interpretation and expression. Specifically, this study will identify what the students already know of mentoring as a music teaching approach, their attitude towards mentoring and their present teaching approach, and their practice of mentoring and their present teaching approach which is purely technical mastery in nature.

Then, this study will promote mentoring by showing relevant materials; assisting them to a proper approach for score study; demonstrating effective teaching models for music interpretation and expression; letting them observe and analyze working discipline of music educator at the natural setting; motivating self-confidence in implementing expressive communication, instruction, demonstration, verbal and non-verbal gesture; and assisting participants to explore and decide on the proper teaching appropriate websites for teaching music interpretation and expression. After these procedures, the knowledge, attitudes and practices of the students will again be identified. The results will be compared from that the results of the first KAP test.

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Through these procedures, the study can inculcate to the students: awareness, knowledge, skills and actual practice of mentoring in teaching music interpretation and expression. The research findings are functional for future teaching and learning instrumental music. It will be discussed, analyzed, and implement in the instrumental music courses thus, will evocate the awareness of teaching models and use of teaching material to music student teachers. It is also useful for future course development for the music department.

CHAPTER II

LITERATURE REVIEW

Mentoring as a Teaching Approach in Music Education

Mentors are experience partner that guide a trainee or novice teacher by transferring their expertise and experience of knowledge from preparing their teaching plan to real setting experience (Montague. 2001). Music researchers claim that teaching models such as a) non-verbal aural modeling and imitation (AM) (b) verbal or written instructions, (CM), (c) verbal instruction using emotion, imagery and metaphor (MI) are essential when teaching or coaching students towards achieving appropriate music interpretation and expression (Johnson, 2007; Woody, 2006).

In music education, there are various types of teaching that are used. In this section, we first differentiate supervision, coaching and mentoring as some of these teaching approaches. Smith, (2005) concluded that supervision could turn to be a major obstacle to direct observation of practice unless the implementation of the supervision aims to educate rather then to evaluate. DeCenzo and Robbins (2007) mentioned, "Employees do not need an authority figure to tell them what to do. Instead, they need a coach who can listen , guide, train and assist them (p. 12). In addition, they revealed that successful supervision arise when successful communication occurs between the supervisor and employees. Successful communication will ensure that the required skill and knowledge is well transferred and understood. In the field of education, Bolanton, Brenson, and Norwood, (2001) mentioned that, relationship between teachers and students has not been clearly understood and implemented thus, living little influence to student teachers pedagogical competencies and development. Moreover, they reveal traditional approaches as more evaluative rather than educative. They (Blanton, et, al, 2008; Corporon, 1997; Harris, 2001; Lane, 2006) discovered that working with expert without educative aprroach tend to focus on teaching aspect such as paperwork, lesson plans, and behavioral objective. Discussion about content and pedagogy are seldom used.

Therefore, student teachers do not acquire the specific skills and knowledge on how to improve their teaching practices through educative. Direct observation of actual teaching by an expert is suggested to enable student teachers to analyze the working discipline of an expert. Cain (2007) in his exploration on the theoretical concepts of 'apprenticeship' and 'reflection' in preliminary teacher education argued that music mentoring is learning "through gaining access to the 'craft knowledge' of experienced teachers" (p.281). Hence, mentoring is teaching based on the espertise obtained in the actual practice of the profession and imparting not only the technical mastery achieved through formal learning but also the subjective feelings, experiences and insights gained from actual experiences.

Pedagogical Competency in Music Interpretation and Expression

Berz (2005) in his study on music educators' pedagogical competency in developing a comprehensive musicianship found that most educators have done a competent job in developing students' technical mastery. However, most music educators exhibited poor awareness in developing individual thinking skill and shaping a comprehensive musicianship. They tend to use most of their time demonstrating, imitating, and repeating which leaves very little space for the development of students' musicianship. Hence, students often perform without musical feelings which are important in musical interpretation and expression.

Previous researchers in music education have mentioned that expressive communication could generate concrete understanding and explore the innate meaning of a music piece (Hinton, 2008; Lane, 2006; Woody, 1999; & McCallum, 2006). Woody (1999) in his study on expressive performance of dynamic variations in an aural modeling task discovered that, students consider expressive communicating skill as highly important because it enables them to visualize appropriate meaning of the music piece and enables them to interpret and express it through their instruments. In an analysis of students' verbalized thoughts, Woody found that those students who are able to clarify verbally the imagery expression into visualize concrete musical properties are more likely to make greater change in their performance.

Teacher's pedagogical skill and knowledge

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Providing students with superb instruction is vital to the mission of every university. However, various studies at higher educational institution revealed that ineffective instruction is the major cause of ineffective learning. (Eison as cited in Diamond, 2002). Rosenthal (2009) in studying the teaching of expressive instrumental music performance mentioned that educators with higher pedagogical competency are essential and are expected. Therefore it should be developed and practiced in every music education courses.

Students should be allowed to put theory into practice, making it into positive teaching habits. Woody (2006) mentioned the providing excitement for the practice teachers before practice teaching will enhance self-confidence, teaching planning, teaching style and approach. McCallum, (2007) in her research on creating an effective instrumental music education methods course refers it as the context of understanding the principle for using appropriate knowledge in the real situations. This serves as a preliminary podium to display student teachers pedagogical competency and to receive instantaneous feedback on their competency in teaching music ensemble.

Music educators are responsible for the effectiveness of their teaching and the ensemble performance (Hinton, 2008; Lisk, 1996). Music student teachers must acquire all those skills and knowledge through excessive practices in classroom teaching and musical activities such as rehearsing and conducting instrumental music group performance. Otherwise, transformation of knowledge into useful attitude and practice will be minimal.

Expressive communication and instruction is a way of transferring the feeling or emotion of the conductor to the musician. Excellent music educators and conductors have effectively used expressive communication and instruction. They use metaphor to help musician understand and feel the implicit meaning of the music piece (McCallum, 2007; Woody 2006). Oftedahl (2008) studied about the growth and development of student's musicianship at school. Her study on eight music teachers shows that expressive instruction and the use of metaphor enabled students to visualize and generate the implicit meaning of the music. It also helped to develop individual musical independence, enabling students to have the ability to use musical techniques, relationships and reason towards effective interpretation and preparing a piece of music.

Research Questions

The study will attempt to answer the following questions:

What are the knowledge, attitude and practice (KAP) of students of SMT 1464 towards mentoring as a teaching approach in music interpretation and expression?

What are the impacts of showing methods of mentoring in their KAP towards it?

Is mentoring appropriate in teaching and learning music interpretation and expression on the point of view of the students?

CHAPTER III

METHODOLOGY

This study will utilize knowledge, attitude, and practices (KAP) pre and post-test. This study will use multiple approaches in collecting all information and data. This study will include documentations, interviews, lesson plans, classroom observations, subject reflective journal, and discussion. It will allow the researcher to focus and explore the processes that occurs at the natural setting, avoiding from focusing from a singular perspective (Robson, 2001). Using multiple sources of data will provide a spectrum of the phenomenon that is being studied (Gall, Gall, & Borg, 2007; Silverman, 2002). Similar process will be repeated during the process for data collection.

Participants

A purposive sampling will be appropriate for this study. The sample for this research will be selected among the final semester students who have completed all 5 ensemble courses. Final semester student is preferable because they will be going for their practicum and have completed all the relevant courses aligned to teaching of music ensemble. A student who displayed deep interest in teaching instrumental music and is willing to engage with this study will be selected. Three instrumental music lecturers from the instrumental music unit will participate in evaluating the participant through video recording. Members of the ensemble will participate in answering a questioner that will enhance their views on the participant teaching strategy.

Instruments

A KAP test towards mentoring as a teaching approach for music interpretation and expression will serve as a pre-test. A standard observation form for music rehearsal classes SMT 1461(ensemble 5) will be used in the post test observation. The instrument aims to assess students teaching competency importantly, towards soliciting the ensemble members for appropriate music interpretation and expression of an excerpt music score through mentoring and not simply displaying and demonstrating technical mastery.

Procedure

The mentor will provide several research articles, checklist that are relevant towards understanding the objective of the study. In addition, the mentor will assist the subject on studying the excerpt music score propose for the study. The teaching models will also be demonstrated to the subject before beginning the first observation. Beside collecting information for the study, the observation feedback, discussion, and self reflective journal aims to assist and stimulate the participant on the awareness of using appropriate teaching models, teaching tool and materials towards achieving the teaching and learning objective.

As a pre-test, knowledge attitude and practices (KAP) of the students regarding mentoring as a more appropriate teaching approach for music interpretation and expression will be identified. Then, mentoring will be demonstrated by showing relevant materials; assisting them to a proper approach for score study; demonstrating effective teaching models for music interpretation and expression; letting them observe and analyze working discipline of music educator at the natural setting; motivating self-confidence in implementing expressive communication, instruction, demonstration, verbal and non-verbal gesture; and assisting participants to explore and decide on the proper teaching appropriate websites for teaching music interpretation and expression. After these procedures, the knowledge, attitudes and practices of the students will again be identified. The results will be compared from that the results of the first KAP test.

Afterwards, the participant will handle a small wind ensemble consisting of 35 student musician from ensemble four and five courses. A specific excerpt of a local music piece will be use for the research purpose. The teaching will take place in the orchestral room which is the natural setting for ensemble music courses. It will be recorded and analyzed for detail data collection. The observations acquire primary resources of the procedures in its natural settings and consist of comprehensive descriptions and in-depth study (Gall, Gall, & Borg, 2007). As a post-test procedure, the researcher will again conduct KAP test after the mentoring experience of the students.

The researcher will use methodical triangulation in verifying and justifying the research findings. The term "triangulation" refers to the use of two or more research method and participant (Bryman. 2010). In this study, three instrumental music lecturers will participate in observing and evaluating the participant through the recording observation (Bryman. 2010). This procedure will be used to address the third research question if mentoring is really an effective teaching approach for music interpretation and expression.

Limitation

This research will implement a single case study because the study intense to deepen a perceptive of the phenomenon being studied and is not to attain population validity (Gall, Gal, & Borg. 2007). It is difficult to observe more than one participant within the period of time due to the discipline of single case research and the complex mentoring process. In addition, it is impossible to implement the same process in the organization because it will concern with the music program syllabus and schedule.