Exploring distance learning experiences of in-service music teachers from Puerto Rico in a master's program
Vega-Martinez, Juan Carlos
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The purpose of this study was to explore the experiences of in-service music teachers who chose to pursue a master's degree in music education through distance learning. In this study, I examined the motivations of in-service music teachers for choosing to pursue a master's degree in music education through distance learning; the benefits teachers reported as a result of emolling in a distance learning program; the challenges teachers faced when studying in an online distance learning graduate program; and, the learning experiences teachers found significant for their profession and teaching environments. Teachers who pursued a master's degree in music education through distance learning at Cambridge College Puerto Rico Regional Center comprised the sample. The primary data collection method was individual semi-structured interviews. Results depicted that the experiences gained by in-service music teachers increased their capacity in teaching pedagogy, theoretical understanding of the field, communication skills, and capability in handling technological issues. The difference between the number of students satisfied and dissatisfied with the program was significant, with the former outnumbering the latter. The salient disadvantages reported by the sample group included a technological gap, reduced direct interaction with professors, a need for self-motivation, and a reduced practical ability between the moderators and the students. On the other hand, the primary advantage of distance learning was the convenience and flexibility of pursuing a music education degree online, which allowed the in-service music teachers to study at home and gave them the capability to balance their domestic and professional responsibilities. The participants' main reasons for enrolling in an online degree program were a desire to excel in their careers, the lack of a geographically closer option, professional and/or family lifestyles, a need for increasing academic knowledge, and a need to improve teaching capability and capacity. Recommendations are offered for leaders and institutions engaged in distance learning programs to address the challenges raised by students who have gone through the system. I hope that the knowledge gained from this study will expand both scholars' and prospective students' current understanding of distance learning as an educational model, especially in the music education field.
Thesis (D.M.A.)--Boston University