Students' perceptions of motivation in the instrumental music classroom
Crosslin, Neill Orlanda
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The purpose of this qualitative study was to describe students’ perceptions of motivation in the instrumental music classroom. This study was guided by a symbolic interactionist framework and grounded theory research design. Data were collected in a high school setting. Open ended and semi-structured face-to-face interviews were conducted, audio-taped, and transcribed. Constant comparative analysis was used to generate a theoretical idea, grounded in the data, illustrating music students’ perceptions of motivation. Findings of this study indicate that self-perception is the overarching theme relevant to students’ experiences with motivation. This study found that: (1) students’ definition of self is an outcome of experiences with their environment, (2) this self-perception influences how students act, and (3) these actions materialize into what students perceive to be motivation. In their discussions, students gave accounts of their experiences and subsequent outcomes of from these experiences with motivation. This study revealed that students experience motivation through fun, success, competition, goal setting, role-models, discipline, praise, and learning. Perceived outcomes of these indicators of motivation were commitment and increased effort. In contrast, students’ motivation diminished when they experienced the lack of “fun,” a negative relationship with their teacher, excessive discipline, and a negative social climate. As a result of these demotivators students displayed indifferent attitudes. Based on the findings, a theoretical idea emerged. This study found that motivation was gender-specific. That is, female students readily accept intrinsic forms of motivation while male students identified with extrinsic motivators. In fact, female students viewed some extrinsic motivators (such as praise and discipline) to be controlling and as a result, lost interest. Implications for future research, director preparation and practice are discussed. Prospective music teachers should note that motivation is gender-specific and be aware of the affects that their teaching practices have on male and female students. In preparing music directors, colleges and universities should consider the implications of this research and extant literature. Such consideration would initiate data-driven decisions in curricula. Lastly, the topic examined is open to further research. There remains a need for additional qualitative studies that illustrate connections among recognized influences on student motivation.