High School Band Students' Perceptions of Effective Teaching

Article excerpt

Abstract

This paper investigated the influence of selected social background characteristics on high school band students' perceptions of effective teaching skills and behaviors. Specific questions were 1) Does gender affect how high school students perceive effective teaching skills and behaviors? 2) Does high school grade level affect the perception of effective teaching skills and behaviors? 3) Is the perception of teacher effectiveness affected by the school's demographic description? 4) Does having previous conducting and teaching experience affect students' perceptions of effective teaching? and 5) What teaching skills and behaviors are perceived to be the most effective by high school band students?

A survey consisting of social background characteristics and forty-five teaching skills and behaviors was administered to high school band students. After responding to questions regarding selected background data, the subjects used a five-point Likert-type scale to rate each teacher skill and behavior from 1 (not very effective) to 5 (very effective). Data analysis then compared the responses to the subjects' background information.

The results indicated that the items, "Maintains high music standards" and "Is knowledgeable of subject knowledge," received the highest mean scores. Further analysis found that gender had no effect on the perceived effectiveness of any teaching skill or behavior. However, the perceived effectiveness of some skills and behaviors was affected by the subjects' grade level, high school location, previous ensemble conducting, and having taught private lessons. Further analysis and implications are presented.

There appears to be a fundamental assumption in performance-based classes that success or failure can be attributed to the effectiveness of the teacher. Teachers are trained to use specific skills and behaviors thought to be effective, yet a clear understanding of the multitude of variables affecting this knowledge remains elusive. Effective teaching has been defined as the degree of effect that observed teacher behaviors have on student behavior (Yarborough & Price, 1981). Despite the apparent importance of the teaching process on student learning, the perception of what specific skills and behaviors constitute effective teaching remains imprecise (Madsen & Duke, 1993). Furthermore, a clear understanding of the variables affecting the perception of effective teaching remains ambiguous. Not surprisingly, researchers caution that it is easy to recognize effective teachers, but hard to define specific characteristics or why these perceptions exist (Madsen, Stanley, & Cassidy, 1989).

Much has been written on the many variables that constitute and affect teaching. Research trends demonstrate that social attributes of the teacher are being increasingly recognized as effective teaching skills that contribute to the perception of what characteristics are considered effective (Lortie, 2002; Waller, 1965). Indeed, Robinson (2000) and Waller (1965) found that many social characteristics such as a teacher's age, maturity, dress, and student-teacher interactions contribute to a student's first impressions, including the perceptions of effectiveness. Furthermore, these impressions tend to be long-term, and thus difficult for teachers to change quickly.

Previously investigated social variables related to teacher effectiveness can be categorized as personal characteristics, visual characteristics, and teacher classroom behaviors. Personal characteristics shown to affect teacher effectiveness include a teacher's age, voice pitch, and the volume of a teacher's voice (Waller, 1965), a charismatic and enthusiastic personality (Gordon & Hamann, 2001; Madsen, Stanley, Byo, & Cassidy, 1989; Rohwer & Henry, 2004; Teachout, 1997, 2001; Yarbrough, 1975), maturity, a positive attitude (Rohwer & Henry, 2004; Waller, 1965), and a strong desire to help others (Gordon and Hamann, 2001). …

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