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Exploring primary school teachers' motivation for music: an investigation into the impact of personal and social problems

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

Published
  • Bethan Garrett
Close
Publication date2014
Number of pages345
QualificationPhD
Awarding Institution
Supervisors/Advisors
Thesis sponsors
  • ESRC North West Doctoral Training Centre
Award date19/06/2014
Publisher
  • Lancaster University
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

Music in the primary school has long been a subject of debate. Advocates from the fields of research and policy-making have frequently stressed its importance, campaigning for time and resources within the packed primary curriculum. However, for individual teachers, music continues to create divisions: whilst some educators are extremely passionate about ensuring regular, inclusive delivery of the subject, there are others who find it anxiety-inducing and question the ability of generalist practitioners to even attempt to engage with it. Investigating the perceptions and beliefs of current teachers, who are actually involved in the day-to-day delivery of music becomes vital, in order to add their often-ignored perspectives to the debates surrounding music’s place in primary education.
This thesis explores the issues surrounding primary school teachers’ responses to music, through the lens of motivational theories, in particular self-efficacy theories and value judgements. In particular, I examine how teachers’ engagement with the subject stems from a complex interaction of both personal and social factors, considering the relative and inter-dependent impact of these. Through the use of an exploratory pilot survey and extensive narrative interviews, an eight-point model of motivation is proposed. The complex nature of these eight dimensions, which span both personal-cognitive elements and socially-situated elements, suggests that it may well be possible for schools to impact positively on the ostensibly personal motivation of teachers; an in-depth investigation of one case-study school demonstrated this could occur even when the practitioners themselves may have had negative experiences with music in the past. Through engagement with this institution, I make explicit the circumstances through which this was made possible, highlighting their whole school approach which encouraged dialogue, reflection, autonomy and collaboration. In this way, the theoretical understanding of teachers’ motivation for music can be linked to the potential to improve real-life practice.