Formats and Features of Professional Development as Predictors of Self-Reported Changes in Music Teachers' Knowledge and Skills

Thumbnail Image

Publication or External Link





The purpose of this study was to describe the self-reported professional development activities of music teachers in the United States and to determine whether selected formats and features of professional development experiences commonly available to music teachers were significant predictors of music teachers' self-reported enhancements in knowledge and skills. The Music Teacher Professional Development Survey was distributed to a simple random sample of 2,257 music teachers in all 50 States and the District of Columbia. It contained items that pertained to participants' professional development activities during the 2012-2013 school year, asking them to describe one of those experiences in-depth and to rate how that experience affected their knowledge and skills.

A total of 493 teachers responded to the survey, and 326 completed it. Notable findings indicated that (a) music teachers attended professional development outside of their schools or districts to find professional development relevant to their roles as music teachers, (b) they undertook individual learning to supplement their formal professional development, and commonly spent more than 20 hours during the 2012-2013 school year doing so; and (c) their ideal professional development experiences would be a workshop that involved other music teachers, was relatively short in length, would take place in their own schools or districts, and related to their areas of teaching specialization.

Three professional development formats (in-district professional development workshop, workshop sponsored by a college or university, and graduate coursework) were entered into a fixed coefficients multiple regression model with out-of-district music/ music education conference as the referent group and state membership as fixed variables. Results revealed statistically significant effects for (a) graduate coursework and (b) in-district professional development in comparison to the referent group on participants' ratings of enhanced knowledge and skills. Effects for in-district professional development workshops were negative, suggesting that participants rated their enhancements in knowledge and skills significantly lower than the referent group.

For features of professional development, fixed coefficient multiple regression analysis results indicated that (a) time span, (b) opportunities of active learning, (c) activity type, and (d) content focus were significant predictors of music teachers' ratings of enhanced knowledge and skill.