Dissertation Defense – David Wayne Langley
Students’ and Teachers’ Perceptions of the Engagement of Creativity in Secondary Choral Ensemble Classes
by David Wayne Langley
The purposes of this study were (a) to explore the individualized meanings of creativity of students within choral ensembles; and (b) to identify the effects that teachers’ perceptions and classroom environment have on helping students shape the meaning of creativity. Participants were selected from 6 middle schools and 5 high schools across 3 different school districts in the southern United States. The study followed the Explanatory Sequential mixed methods design of Creswell and Plano Clark (2011). The first phase of research included a survey administered to middle/high school chorus students (N = 314) and middle/high school chorus teachers (N = 11). The Measures of Creativity Perceptions Assessment survey was researcher-created and validated by an earlier pilot study. It consisted of Likert-scaled questions measuring the importance of various potential purposes of music education and the frequency of musical topics addressed in class. Participants also rated their perceptions of how they found certain activities to be creative, as well as how much student input and musical decision-making were present in chorus class. Results indicated that most students found their chorus class to contain creative activities, though they were unable to identify the activities wherein they experienced creativity. Findings from the quantitative survey helped to form a qualitative second phase, including teacher interviews and student focus groups. The researcher conducted 2 teacher interviews. Two focus groups were conducted, each comprised of 4 students of the interviewed teachers. Qualitative findings suggested that middle school students viewed creativity as functioning differently within chorus than elsewhere in school. This likely resulted from the influence of their teachers as well as a process-oriented view of creativity. High school students uniform definitions of creativity yet noted that creative activities, like improvisation and composition, were absent from their chorus classes. Teacher participants stated that they felt unconfident in leading such lessons, Teacher participants stated that they were most affected by their undergraduate professors. Implications for undergraduate music teacher preparation include additional focus on creativity in undergraduate music teacher preparation programs. Further research involving student perceptions of creativity Is necessary in order to more fully understanding students’ perceptions of creativity.