Academic journal article Australian Journal of Music Education

Are the Arts Important in Schooling? Clear Messages from the Voices of Pre-Service Generalist Teachers in Australia

Academic journal article Australian Journal of Music Education

Are the Arts Important in Schooling? Clear Messages from the Voices of Pre-Service Generalist Teachers in Australia

Article excerpt

Introduction

Beliefs about the teaching of Arts education inform a teacher's capability to teach the Arts. If beliefs are positive, the teacher is more likely to engage with Arts experiences in their classroom (Garvis & Pendergast, 2010). If beliefs are negative, they will either limit the exposure of Arts education in their classroom or ignore it all together (Garvis & Pendergast, 2010). Many beliefs about Arts education are formed during teacher education and from personal and professional prior experience (Lemon & Garvis, 2013). It is for this reason the exploration of teacher beliefs about Arts education is important.

This paper explores the perceptions of pre-service teachers currently studying to become primary school teachers in two Australian universities in two different states (Victoria and Queensland). A survey was completed by 206 participants and analysed using statistical analysis. Findings provide important insights into the current views and perceptions about the role of Arts in schools and current levels of personal engagement with the Arts. These beliefs will inform a teacher's ability to implement Arts education in schools. By taking a snapshot of these beliefs, we are able to predict Arts engagement in a primary school classroom.

Literature

Over the past 35 years in Australia, several Inquires have been made into the quality of Arts education occurring in schools (New South Wales Ministry of Education, 1974; Australian Senate Inquiry into Arts Education, 1995; National Review of School Music Education, 2005; National Review of Visual Education, 2008; National Audit of Music Discipline and Music Education Mandatory Content within Pre-service Generalist Primary Teacher Education Courses: A Report, 2009). These reports have expressed concern at the quality and quantity of Arts education occurring in schools. As yet, limited assistance has been implemented to try and improve current problems within teacher education and the provision for Arts education within schools (Ewing, 2010). One of the established problems over the last 35 years has been the lack of confidence of generalist primary teachers.

The confidence of generalist primary teachers is informed by beliefs about their own confidence. These beliefs are formed during preservice teacher education and once made, are resistant to change. If we want to explore ways to improve the provision of Arts education in Australian classrooms, it is important to explore theoretical understanding of beliefs, known as self-efficacy beliefs.

Self-efficacy beliefs operate as a key factor in a generative system of human competence (Bandura, 1997). Teacher self-efficacy relates to the beliefs teachers hold about their own perceived capability in undertaking certain teaching tasks. Bandura (1997) defines self-efficacy as "beliefs in one's capabilities to organise and execute the course of action required to produce given attainments" (p. 3). Self-efficacy therefore influences thought patterns and emotions that enable classroom actions. In the context of education, teacher self--efficacy is considered a powerful influence on teachers' overall effectiveness with students. Tschannen-Moran and Woolfolk Hoy (2001) suggest that supporting the development of teachers' self-efficacy is essential for producing effective, committed and enthusiastic teachers.

Teacher self-efficacy is a motivational construct that directly influences outcomes in the classroom. It has been related to student achievement (Moore & Esselman, 1992; Ross, 1992); increased job satisfaction (Caprara, Barbarnelli, Borgogni & Steca, 2003); commitment to teaching (Coladarci, 1992); greater levels of planning and organisation (Allinder, 1994); and working longer with students who are struggling (Gibson & Dembo, 1984).

Teacher self-efficacy is influenced by four sources: mastery experiences (serving as an indicator of capability); verbal persuasion (verbal influences on perceived capability); vicarious experiences (modelling and observation of techniques); and emotional arousal (associated with the perceived capability that influence the process and outcomes of the task attempted). …

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