Date of Award

January 2016

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Teaching & Learning

First Advisor

Margaret Zidon


The purpose of this action research study was to improve an elementary music methods course’s impact on preservice teachers’ learning to teach. The central problem was identified as weak connectivity between course learning at the beginning of the semester and application in practicum settings at the end of the course. Reconnaissance including self study and study of the field led to changes in the sequencing of course learning and practicum teaching. The course was restructured to support the preservice music teachers through a graduated progression of practicum experiences prescheduled across the entire sixteen-week semester. Each teaching experience was grounded with pedagogical content study, peer teaching, and collaborative- and self-reflection. The pilot-study cycle of action research began in fall 2013. Changes were implemented, data was collected and analyzed, and results led to revisions for a second cycle of action research in fall 2014. Analysis led to the following assertion: The integrated course structure, focusing course learning on imminent teaching in the classroom, was integral to PMTs’ growth as music teachers. As PMTs interacted with the “total social set-up” (Dewey, 1938) of the course, their competence with planning and enacting instruction, their understanding of learners, their relationships with students, and their confidence increased. Participant suggestions for improvement include adding observation of the mentor teacher prior to practicum teaching and better alignment of course models with practicum class age-levels. Findings will be used to inform future iterations of the action research continuous improvement cycle.

Keywords: integrated course structure, elementary music methods, preservice music teachers, learning to teach, continuous improvement cycle, action research