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What's new in pedagogy research? (Professional Resources).

As a pedagogy professor, I often include sessions in class where the students take turns teaching each other a certain concept or skill. I have wondered if this was an effective and efficient use of precious class time, since it was always somewhat artificial, and the "guinea pig" often was much brighter or denser than the average child. A recent study entitled "Preservice Music Teachers' Conceptions of Teaching Effectiveness, Microteaching Experiences, and Teaching Performance" (1) by Abby Butler investigated the effectiveness of two, short teaching experiences. Before the microteaching, each of the fifteen undergraduate music education majors received instruction about how to make a concept map. This concept map was a representation of how the student organized and stored knowledge from a particular area. Researchers call this "cognitive schemata" and believe that:
 The cognitive schemata of experts are more complex, interconnected, and
 accessible.... Furthermore, cognitive structures exhibiting a greater
 degree of organization have been associated with teachers' abilities to
 respond more effectively to unexpected questions and answers during
 instruction.... to demonstrate greater capacity for reflective thinking
 ..., and to perform more effectively during student teaching. (2)


The student teachers each made a concept map on the topic of "effective teaching." Insert 1 shows one student's preteaching map . (3)

The next stage of the experiment began with the microteaching experiences. Each student rote taught a short portion of a song to their peers, and then they taught the same song to a thirty-five-voice children's choir. After these teaching experiences, the student teachers viewed a videotape of their teaching and wrote an evaluation. The teachers then completed a second concept map on effective teaching and were interviewed by the researcher. During this thirty-minute interview, they were asked to reflect on their microteaching experiences, their two concept maps and whether they felt their concepts had been changed by the experience. The interviews indicated that the participants generally found the experience beneficial and worthwhile. Many of them believed the microteaching experience had directly influenced their thinking about teaching. They generally perceived "... the peer teachings as harder, stating their peers were more critical and judgmental." (4) The field setting also was seen as important and intimidating, but necessary in developing their identity as a teacher.

In the "Discussion" section of the publication, the researcher addressed several questions, including:

1. What is the nature of preservice music education teachers' thinking about effective teaching as measured through the use of concept mapping? Overall, the students' maps were fairly simplistic, but logical. An analysis of the maps indicated the students saw an effective teacher in terms of a "persona," a teacher with the information, personal characteristics and abilities to teach well. They included elements of "... role, image and personality to create a more cogent and tangible view of effective teaching.... Perhaps by creating a composite portrait of an effective teacher, participants took the first step toward developing their own identity as a teacher." (5)

2. Does preservice music education teachers' thinking about effective teaching change following two microteaching experiences involving both peer-teaching and field-teaching settings? Some changes in the post-teaching maps indicated that the student teachers had begun to synthesize the new information and experiences into their cognitive schemata. Their post-maps suggested "... an increase in critical-thinking skills ... [illustrated] an increase in conceptual understanding and a growing awareness of the complexities of teaching. (6)

From this study, Butler drew several conclusions. First, participants appeared to view good teaching as a particular teacher persona. Therefore, it might be helpful for teacher trainers to use this to help preservice teachers develop their own professional identity. Second, the microteaching experiences appeared to have a direct impact on the student teachers' thinking and skill development, and the preservice teachers found the experiences to be highly valuable. Although the two micro experiences were not extensive enough to actually change their teaching behaviors, they did stimulate reflective and critical thinking.

Reflections

This study would seem to indicate that peer teaching sessions in a pedagogy class (especially when videotaped and self-evaluated) are probably worthwhile. I always hope they are effective in at least preparing the student teacher for the intern teaching experience and will help each student teacher face his or her first "real student" with greater confidence. The use of the concept map might be helpful, and developing an "effective teacher persona" would undoubtedly result in an interesting mix of everyone's best teachers.

NOTES

(1.) Butler, Abby, "Preservice Music Teachers' Conceptions of Teaching Effectiveness, Microteaching Experiences, and Teaching Performance," Journal of Research in Music Education, 49, (2001), pp. 258-272.

(2.) Ibid., p. 259.

(3.) Ibid., p. 267.

(4.) Ibid., p. 265.

(5.) Ibid., p. 268.

(6.) Ibid., p. 269.

FYI:

For her dissertation project, Kathy Winston, a doctoral candidate at The University of Texas at Austin, has compiled a very helpful listing of 160 intermediate-level twentieth-century pieces by fifty-seven composers. You will find this database at www.pianorep.com.--RGJ
--Rebecca Grooms Johnson, NCTM
National Pedagogy Chair
Columbus, Ohio
She directs the keyboard pedagogy program
at Capital University in Columbus, Ohio.
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Author:Johnson, Rebecca Grooms
Publication:American Music Teacher
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jun 1, 2002
Words:835
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