Academic journal article Contributions to Music Education

Assessment Practices in the Choral Music Classroom: A Survey of Ohio High School Choral Music Teachers and College Choral Methods Professors

Academic journal article Contributions to Music Education

Assessment Practices in the Choral Music Classroom: A Survey of Ohio High School Choral Music Teachers and College Choral Methods Professors

Article excerpt

The purpose of this study was to identify assessment strategies used by Ohio high school choral music teachers and taught by Ohio college choral methods professors. In addition, the rationale for the use of each assessment was also explored. The researcher designed two parallel questionnaires that were administered to Ohio high school choral music teachers (N = 608) and Ohio college choral methods professors (N = 38). The high school teachers were asked to indicate if they used, and the college professors if they taught, 12 assessment strategies: (a) videotape recordings, (b) audio tape recordings, (c) singing tests, (d) written tests, (e) independent study/written projects, (f) student portfolios, (g) check sheets, rating scales, and/or rubrics, (h) concert performances, (i) individual performances, (j) student participation, (k) student attitude, and (l) student attendance. Percentages were calculated for the high school teachers' use and the college professors' teaching of the 12 strategies, and the strategies were ranked from most to least frequent for both groups. The participants in both groups were more likely to employ assessment based on personal choice rather than local, state or national standards.

Assessment continues to be one of the most challenging and controversial issues in education. From the initiative to implement required minimum competency testing programs in the 1980s to the advent of the Goals 2000: Educate America Act (U.S. Congress, 1994) and the standards-based education movement, contemporary educators have increasingly become aware of the role assessment may play in teaching and learning (Smith, Furman & O'Day, 1994; US Department of Education, 1996a). In music education, much discussion has taken place regarding the purposes for and types of assessment to be used to ascertain student understanding (Asmus, 1999; Colwell, 2000; Hoffer, 1991). Like their colleagues who teach other types of music ensembles, choral music teachers have expressed concern over the need to develop better ways of assessing students in choral music performance courses (Cooksey, 1982). Yet it is not clear what specific assessment practices are being utilized in choral music teaching and learning.

In the assessment literature, the terms assessment, measurement, evaluation and testing are often used interchangeably; however, there is a difference in their meaning. Assessment is a general term that is used to describe a variety of methods and procedures used to gather information about student learning (Linn and Gronlund, 2000). Measurement is the quantification of an assessment by assigning numerical values to data that has been gathered (Linn and Gronlund). Evaluation ". . . involves making some judgment or decision regarding the worth, quality, or value of experiences, procedures, activities, or individual or group performances as they relate to some educational endeavor (Boyle and Radocy, 1987, p. 7). A test is a type of assessment strategy or tool that is used to gather information as to whether or not students have achieved the main goals of instruction (Hart, 1994).

Over the years, educational assessment has been utilized for a variety of purposes including: (a) diagnosing student needs; (b) assigning grades; (c) providing feedback to students; (d) placing students in instructional groups or other programs; (e) controlling student behavior and maintaining the classroom environment; (f) planning, coordinating and evaluating instruction; (g) communicating achievement expectations; and (h) teaching important concepts and skills to students (Airasian, 2004; Stiggins & Conklin, 1992). Issues related to teacher and student accountability, school effectiveness, the creation and implementation of national standards, as well as advancements made in cognitive and developmental psychology have led educators to seek a variety of techniques to measure and document student achievement (Cizek, 1997; Gallagher, 1994; Mauer, 1996). …

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