What's New in Pedagogy Research? (Professional Resources)
Johnson, Rebecca Grooms, American Music Teacher
What factors do you think are strong predictors of whether a student's performance will go well? Certainly, adequate amounts of effective and efficient practice are necessary, along with good mental preparation and the motivation to play well. Researchers in England recently published a study titled: "The Role of Self-Efficacy in a Musical Performance Examination: An Exploratory Structural Equation Analysis", (1) which focused on students' performances on Trinity College, London, graded performance examinations, which are similar to the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music examinations. (An earlier study by these researchers suggested that students who reported spending more time practicing organized their practice more efficiently--in other words, those who practiced more, practiced better. (2) But what factors other than practice affected the students' performances? This study explored the importance of the role of self-efficacy in the motivation to perform well. Self-efficacy was defined as "the conviction that one can successfully execute the behavior required to produce the outcomes." (3) Additional studies indicated that the best level for self-efficacy was to actually have more confidence than was justified by actual ability!
This study set out to explore the relationships between motivation, practice and performance as seen in students' performances on a graded examination. The researchers invited all the students who were taking the Trinity College exam to arrive at the test earlier than their scheduled time to complete a questionnaire immediately before playing their exam. The self-regulatory components of the questionnaire included questions on cognitive strategy use and self-regulation; the motivational components included questions about intrinsic values, anxiety and self-efficacy. The students responded to the questions with a seven-point, Likert-type scale, with (1) being "not at all true of me" and (7) being "very true of me." (4) Students were asked how they felt they compared to other students taking the examination that day, and also were required to give information about how much they practiced and what strategies they used. After the examination was completed, their performance grade was written on the survey.
After analyzing the results, the researchers wrote:
The principal result is the strong association between self-efficacy and actual performance and the former's clear superiority as a predictor of actual performance in a graded external music examination.... Performance is arguably the most important image-forming component of an individual's identity as a musician. …