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Persidangan Pendidikan Muzik Malaysia 2005 (MusEd05)

Know Yourself: Music Teaching Styles of Malaysian School Music Teachers

Shahanum Mohd. Shah
Department of Music Education UiTM Shah Alam Abstract Picture this: a music class relying almost exclusively on the use of a cassette and a player. Sounds familiar? This typical method of presenting material which school music teaching has relied on can be due to a variety of reasons such as a lack of knowledge on the part of the teacher or lack of strategies to present music material. It is important for teachers to know their individual teaching style and have a variety of teaching strategies at hand to accommodate for the different learning needs of students. According to Gumm (2003), music teaching style involves three basic components of the teaching-learning process, which are teacher, students and subject matter. Music teaching style addresses the interactions of each of these components as the teacher conveys the subject matter, interacts with the students, and draws out learning from students. Using Gumms (1993, 2001) Music Teaching Style Inventory (MTSI), this study seeks to look at the preferred teaching style of Malaysian primary and secondary school music teachers. When music teachers understand the direction they take in teaching, they can then plan insightful changes in teaching, thus enhancing students learning.

INTRODUCTION Teaching is an art and a science, which takes time to do well. Teaching involves many elements such as teaching methods, teaching styles, learning styles, classroom management and evaluation (Esah, 2004). Of these elements, teaching styles is one element of which there appears to be a lack of consensus as to what constitutes it. Definitions typically gear around related concepts including personality, learning styles and effective teaching (Gumm, 2003). For example, teaching styles has been defined as a set of teaching tactics (Galton, Simon, and Croll, 1980) or instructional format (Siedentop, 1991). Typically, this refers to methods and approaches used by educators in presenting materials to students, be it verbally or visually. Moallem (2001) suggests four basic types of teaching styles which are:


Formal Authority: This is an approach which is instructor-centered. The instructor feels responsible for providing and controlling the flow of content in which the student is to receive and assimilate. Creating a relationship is not of a concern for the instructor.



Demonstrator/Personal Model: The instructor models and demonstrates what is expected as in the context of skills and processes. The role as a coach or guide to assist predominates. Student participation is encouraged and various knowledge is utilised.


Facilitator: The instructor focuses on activities and facilitates. The students take responsibility and the initiative to achieve results for various tasks. Independent, active and collaborative learners thrive in this environment.


Delegator: A student-centered approach where the instructor delegates and places control and responsibility for learning be it for individuals or groups of students. The student is often required to design and implement a complex learning project. The instructor will act on a consultative role.

In keeping with tradition, educators tend to focus on teacher-centered instruction, placing a heavy reliance on sequential, verbal presentations, combined with reading and writing activities. This method emphasises rote learning whereby the end product is more important than the learning process. For different reasons, some educators rarely vary their teaching methods (McKeachie, 1995). Most educators also teach the way they learn, whereby the

preferred teaching style here is to repeat what worked for them (Stitt-Gohder, 2001). Educators have to realise that their teaching styles may not suit all students in their classroom and need to begin exploring their own styles. Too many educators do not understand their teaching style or vary their teaching methods, due to complacency or merely thinking that the methods by which they were taught is best for everyone. This problem is compounded by the fact that many educators do not have a variety of teaching methods and teaching activities at their disposal.

Education in Malaysia tends to be rather teacher-centered, which is typically unidirectional with the students receiving knowledge rather than interpreting it. These students are then tested more on their memorising skills rather than employing higher order thinking skills of the cognitive domain such as analysis, synthesis and evaluation. If too much emphasis is

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placed on rote memorisation and students are not actively engaged in the learning process, it is highly likely that they may be less inclined to achieve success (Dewar, 1995).

Teaching styles is usually discussed in general, encompassing all subject matters but not specifically to a particular subject. In music, due to the nature of the subject, which involves the cognitive, psychomotor and affective domains, it is very important for teachers to know about teaching styles. A study conducted by the Educational Planning and Research Division (EPRD) of the Ministry of Education Malaysia (2000) involving curriculum managers comprising of headmasters, senior assistants, Federal Inspectors, State Music Supervisors and Teacher Training college lecturers reported an unsatisfactory quality of primary school music teaching because of teachers limited knowledge or experience and them being ill equipped to teach music. Problems arise because of inadequacies in specific teaching-learning strategies and acquisition of teaching skills. In addition, these teachers have not achieved an acceptable proficiency level in the language of music and/or had not yet mastered the required musical skills. While there may be other variables affecting the quality of teaching, in order to increase student achievement, it is important for educators to understand their own teaching style and develop effective teaching strategies to establish equity in music achievement. Instructional modes, methods and strategies can significantly affect student achievement.

Gumm (2003) proposes a different view of music teaching style. According to Gumm, music teaching style involves three basic components of the teaching-learning process, which are teacher, students and subject matter. This is referred to as the principle of triadicity (Figure 1). Music teaching style addresses the interactions of each of these components as the teacher conveys the subject matter, interacts with the students, and draws out learning from students. Music teaching style encompasses the reality that teachers relate subject matter in different ways and embrace subject matter of different types and at different levels, and that teachers manage students in different ways to meet their expectations and to get the subject matter taught.

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Figure 1 Principle of Triadicity (Gumm, 2003)



Subject Matter

Gumm presents a three-level model of music teaching style the first level is effective teaching behaviours; the second level of music teaching style consists of eight distinct dimensions identified which are Assertive Teaching, Nonverbal Motivation, Time Efficiency, Positive Learning Environment, Group Dynamics, Music Concept Learning, Artistic Music Performance and Student Independence. The third level involves making approximations of the teachers music teaching style.

Assertive teaching refers to the teachers control of the classroom and the ability to capture and maintain a groups attention to teacher-directed goals. Assertive in this context means to act with direct and confident assertion, to state a position clearly and strongly and to positively maintain and defend that position. Nonverbal motivation involves monitoring, Concepts underlying

communication of awareness, feedback, consequences, and alerting. nonverbal motivation are visual appearance, proximity and pacing.

Time provides the motivation in the third dimension, Time Efficiency. Concepts of time include the quickness involved in achieving the most activity within the given time limit and quantity which is the efficient use of time to fill in with as much activity as can be managed. Positive Learning Environment places focus on students and on learning, whereby teachers not only care for their students but also care what they learn. Empathy, humour, patience, sensitivity, accommodation, support, and care given are linked to positive acts of learning. Group Dynamics

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represents the interaction between the teacher, the students, and the subject matter. Teamwork and social skills are important outcomes of music learning.

The last three dimensions of the Music Teaching Style focuses on subject matters that is explicitly musical. Music Concept Learning (MCL) focuses on music concepts and represents the ability to teach students music knowledge and get students to demonstrate their understanding back to the teacher. Performing is the focus of Artistic Music Performance (AMP). Here, the teacher attempts to communicate the beautiful quality of sound, and then strengthen student abilities to think and remember beautiful sounds and to physically recreate these sounds. Student Independence focuses on creativity. The teacher givens time for deep thought and feelings to develop and recognises when creative and affective responses have occurred. The teacher also withholds judgment to show openness and acceptance in response to instances of creativity and affect, and fosters in all students the processes that lead them beyond the classroom to function independently.

This study seeks to look at the preferred teaching style of Malaysian primary and secondary school music teachers based on the eight dimensions of Gumms second level of music teaching style. Results will indicate whether teachers differ from each other and help music teachers understand the direction they take in teaching in order for them to plan insightful changes in teaching.

METHOD Subjects for this study were 18 primary (n = 14) and secondary (n = 4) school music teachers. The teachers teaching style was measured using Gumms (2003) Music Teaching Style Inventory (MTSI). This inventory measures the eight dimensions of music teaching style; Assertive Teaching (Dimension 1), Nonverbal Motivation (Dimension 2), Time Efficiency (Dimension 3), Positive Learning Environment (Dimension 4), Group Dynamics (Dimension 5), Music Concept Learning (Dimension 6), Artistic Music Performance (Dimension 7) and Student Independence (Dimension 8). Each dimension consists of five questions for a total of 40 questions. Subjects had to respond to each item according to a scale of five values, 1- Never, 2 Rarely, 3 - Sometimes, 4 - Often and 5 Always, assigned for each item.

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The teachers rated their use of the list of teaching behaviours, and the researcher summed the ratings to find their score on each dimension of music teaching style, i.e., the scores for the five questions of each dimension were totaled for each teacher. Scores for each dimension on the MTSI indicate priorities in the music teaching style. High scores represent high priorities while low scores represent low priorities in the teachers music teaching style. In this study, priority was determined by the scores obtained and not by the teachers.

RESULTS Table 1 presents the teachers individual scores for each dimension of the MTSI. In

general, results show that these teachers appear to focus on different dimensions according to their respective teaching style. The teachers have their individual range of scores across the dimensions indicating that there are dimensions which are more prioritised than others. The differences in scores among the eight dimensions for some teachers were relatively small, while others had rather disparate differences between the scores. For example, Teacher 13 had a high score of 25 for four dimensions (Dimensions 2, 4, 7, and 8), while the lowest score was 11 for Time Efficiency. On the other hand, Teacher 12 had a score of 19 for Nonverbal Motivation and a score of 5 for Music Concept Learning indicating that this dimension was of low priority in the teachers teaching. Likewise, Teachers 7 and 8 were similar in their responses and considered Assertive Teaching and Positive Learning Environment to be of higher priority than Music Concept Learning and Artistic Music Performance.

Of the primary music teachers, all teachers indicated high priorities for seven dimensions with some teachers indicating more than one dimension as high priority. Eight teachers However,

indicated Positive Learning Environment as a high priority in their teaching style. none of them indicated Music Concepts Learning as high priority.

The musically related

dimensions, Music Concepts Learning, Artistic Music Performance and Student Independence were rated low priority dimensions more frequently. Six primary school music teachers

indicated that Music Concept Learning represented a low priority in their teaching style. Positive Learning Environment did not feature as low priority by any teacher.

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With the four secondary school teachers, two indicated Nonverbal Motivation and one teacher each indicated Music Concept Learning and Artistic Music Performance as high priorities in their teaching. Two teachers indicated Time Efficiency and one teacher each

indicated Artistic Music Performance and Group Dynamics as low priority in their teaching.

For the purpose of this study, teachers scores for all the eight dimensions were totaled and a mean was obtained. For the primary music teachers total scores, the Artistic Music

Performance dimension received the highest scores while the Music Concept Learning dimension received the lowest scores, with a mean of 23.43 and 14.14 respectively. For

secondary music teachers Nonverbal Motivation received the highest scores with a mean of 22.25, while Time Efficiency received the lowest scores with a mean of 17.75. Scores indicate that there is not much difference in terms of emphasis placed among the eight dimensions for secondary music teachers.

Table 1 Teachers scores for each dimension of the MTSI Name School Level Dim1 Dim2 Dim3 AT NVM TE T1 Primary 14 17 18 T2 Primary 17 23 22 T3 Primary 19 18 19 T4 Primary 23 21 17 T5 Primary 15 16 12 T6 Primary 17 23 9 T7 Primary 21 18 16 T8 Primary 19 18 16 T9 Primary 23 22 13 T10 Primary 16 21 19 T11 Primary 15 22 17 T12 Primary 17 19 14 T13 Primary 18 25 11 T14 Primary 19 21 17 Total 253 284 220 Mean 18.07 20.29 15.71 T1 T2 T3 T4 Secondary Secondary Secondary Secondary Total Mean 18 21 19 20 78 19.5 22 23 19 25 89 22.25 16 19 16 20 71 17.75

Dim4 PLE 20 22 18 23 19 21 21 20 23 22 23 22 25 25 304 21.71 22 24 17 23 86 21.5

Dim5 GD 20 17 17 17 15 24 15 15 18 14 19 11 24 16 242 17.29 18 22 18 17 75 18.75

Dim6 MCL 18 20 16 16 22 18 7 8 11 10 22 5 16 9 198 14.14 16 20 20 18 74 18.5

Dim7 AMP 19 21 16 17 16 20 7 7 17 7 29 6 25 12 328 23.43 23 20 15 20 78 19.5

Dim8 SI 23 23 17 17 23 16 9 11 18 6 21 10 25 11 230 16.43 19 22 18 19 78 19.5

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DISCUSSION If learning is to be effective, one aspect that needs to be looked into by teachers is their teaching style. This should also lead to an understanding of effective teaching strategies.

Results from the MTSI indicate that there are indeed qualitative differences in a teachers music teaching style. First and foremost, it is important for teachers to know themselves, to know their strengths and weaknesses. This is also to know how they react, why they react and what is important to them. When teachers know themselves they also know how different they are from others due to factors such as psychological controls and background experience. But teachers must understand that although wanting to maintain individuality, the broadening of their style is necessary to accommodate students learning needs, which also tends to be individual.

To further help teachers understand their overall pattern of teaching, Gumm divided the eight dimensions into two categories, i.e., Breadth of Activities (Dimensions 1 4), and Depth of Knowledge (Dimensions 5 -8). Statements in the table associated with dimensions at the top of the priority list should be compared and the overall focus that floats to the top of the overall pattern needs to be considered. The teacher then looks at the dimensions at the middle and bottom of the priority list and considers the goals and focuses that are at the bottom and therefore, are of lower priority in the teachers teaching. Priorities can fall into one of the two categories of Breadth of Activities and Depth of Student Learning listed in the table. Teachers then interpret their prioritised list of dimensions in terms of the principle of triadicity.

From this table, it can be seen that Breadth of Activities is more important than Depth of Student Learning for most of the 14 primary music teachers. This could be due to the fact that at the primary level, music classes are more focused on activities such as singing, recorder and percussion playing with little emphasis being placed on learning music concepts. Therefore, teachers are more focused towards the activities being conducted in the class and how to manage the class. Although only four in number, two secondary school teachers indicated Depth of Student Learning and two indicated Breadth of Activities as high priority in their teaching and vice versa. It is interesting to note from an outsiders perspective that two of the four teachers rated dimensions as high and low priority belonging to the same category. A plausible

explanation for the results indicating focus on Depth of Student Learning is that there are

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different kinds of music activities in the secondary music curriculum thus warranting focus to be placed on Depth of Student Learning, particularly Music Concept Learning and Artistic Music Performance. To understand themselves better, teachers can compare the general goals to find which match their priorities and the difference subject matters implied in each dimension to detect any patterns of priority.

Table 2 Summary and Comparison of Music Teaching Style Dimensions (Gumm, 2003)
DIMENSION Breadth of Activities Assertive Teaching GENERAL GOAL TRIADICITY FOCUS SUBJECT MATTER FOCUS Active learning, teacher influence Active learning Quantity of activity Students, learning act of

Follow directions Teacher dependent accurately Nonverbal Motivation Stay attentive and Teacher dependent alert Time Efficiency Accomplish many Teacher and time tasks quickly dependent Positive Learning Clearly and enjoyably Student-teacher Environment learn transactional Depth of Student Learning Group Dynamics Learn alone and with Student others interdependent Music Concept Understand more Student-content Learning deeply transactional Artistic Music Hear and make Teacher-contentPerformance beautiful music student multimodal Student Independence Think, act, and feel Student-content autonomously transformational * triadicity refers to the teacher, students, and/or subject matter

Self-responsibility collaboration Musical knowledge Skill tied to musical imagery Creativity, affect

At the university level, teacher training students need to readily accept new methods beyond the ideas they brought to college, and not just depend on ideas that are often connected to the teacher who inspired or taught them. They need to accept proven methods provided in their courses. In general, teachers tend to also teach what they know. It is important to vary materials in music as a background of varied musical experiences lead to a more extensive music teaching style and vice versa. Experiences in singing, playing, moving, composing, improvising,

analysing, music reading, music writing, theory, history, etc are greatly needed as they directly impact the way teachers are able to organise and communicate the musical learning experiences

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of their students. The base of teachers knowledge and experiences should always be expanded. This, coupled with effective teaching behaviours, would greatly enhance students learning.

In conclusion, it is important for teachers to know themselves, their students, and their subject matter. Knowing their students will help teachers know how to match their teaching

efforts for better learning results. Teachers can then match what they know about themselves and their students to what they need to learn, which is the subject matter. It is important for teachers to move beyond the dimensions they give high priority to and focus on behaviours within the other dimensions that can increase student learning in general. It is also crucial that teachers also focus on knowing their subject matter as having an effective teaching style relies heavily on knowing the subject matter taught.

The nature of the subject matter is such that learning cannot be left to chance; the focus should be on music learning. Teachers need to refine their vision of teaching, and not let dislike or disinterest in teaching music mar students education. Teachers need to do away with tape recorder teaching for example, and teach comprehensively which is to shift gears between the levels of the cognitive, affective, and psychomotor domains, while achieving a mix of active learning, reflective thinking, and innovative thinking and a mix of theory, performance, analysis and creativity.

REFERENCES Dewar, T. (1996). Adult Learning Online. Educational, Planning and research Division (EPRD) (2000). Kajian pengajaran dan pembelajaran pendidikan muzik sekolah rendah. [Research on teaching and learning of music education in the primary school]. Ministry of Education Malaysia. Esah, S. (2004). Pengenalan pedagogi. Johor, Malaysia: Penerbit Universiti Teknologi Malaysia. Galton, M., Simon, B., & Croll, P. (1980). Inside the primary classroom. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul. Gumm, A. (2003). Music teaching style: Moving beyond tradition. MD: Meredith Music Publications.

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McKeachie, W. J. (1995). Learning styles can become learning strategies. NTLF, Vol. 4, No. 6. Moallem, M. (2001). The Implications of the research literature on learning styles for the design and development of a web based course. Presented at the AECT 2001 Annual Conference. Siedentop, D. (1991). Developing teaching skills in physical education. Palo Alto, CA: Mayfield. Stitt-Gohdes, W. L. (2001). Business education students preferred learning styles and their preferred instructional styles: Do they match? Delta Pi Epsilon Journal, 43(3), 137-151.

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