A Q-sort comparison of student and teacher values concerning wind band music education in public secondary schools
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Public music education in the United States, including secondary wind band ensembles, has experienced a decades-long enrollment decline (Dembowski, Gay, & Owings, 1979; Elpus & Abril, 2011; Hartley, 1996, 1991; Hoffer, 1980; Music for All Foundation, 2004; Stewart, 1991; von Zastrow & Janc, 2004; Woodworth et al., 2007). Research has shown that students feel more ownership, membership, and attachment to an organization when it speaks to their values (Furrer & Skinner, 2003; Hurley, 1992, 1995; Mitra, 2003, 2004; Rudduck et al., 2003; Rudduck & Flutter 2000, 2004; Williams, 2011). With a more concerted effort by music educators to integrate student values, this enrollment trend could be stemmed. The purpose of this study was to investigate and compare student values of music education with those of their teachers. I adopted the subjectivist viewpoint of value theory, positioned in the field of psychology, for the theoretical framework. From this perspective, values are guiding principles of a person that are revealed through evaluation. This was paired with Q methodology, which allowed participants’ subjective values to be accessed through a sorting activity. Data collection took place in two phases. First, values were identified through open-ended questions posed to 3 teachers and 188 students in wind band ensembles at three randomly selected public secondary schools in Chester County, PA. These statements formed the Q-set, which, during the second phase, the directors and 12 randomly selected students, four at each site, sorted into a unimodal distribution framework. The Q-set was organized into seven categories and the data from the Q-sort were used to calculate various means to compare student and teacher responses as well as to calculate correlation coefficients. These data, combined with background information and post-sort interview responses, revealed that students and their teachers held different values for music education at each individual site as well as collectively.