Service learning in music education: Participant reflections.
Reynolds, A.M., Jerome, A., Preston, A.L., & Haynes, Holley. (2005). Service learning in music education: Participant reflections. Bulletin of the Council for Research in Music Education, 165: 79-91.
The researchers conducted a qualitative study of a service-learning music-education partnership between a mid-sized university and a large public elementary school that did not have a music specialist. As part of the project, pre-service music teachers provided music classes over a seven-week period to first grade children who did not receive any regular music instruction. The purpose of this study was to better understand the impact of the partnership on selected participants, including ten pre-service music education teachers, twelve first-grade teachers and the elementary school’s principal.
Researchers examined pre-service teacher perceptions of their reflective practice, classroom teacher observations of the service-learning arrangement, and how the service-learning program contributed to arts activities at the elementary school over the project’s five-year period.
Researchers concluded that pre-service teachers in the program benefitted from the real-world experience and that classroom teachers enjoyed watching their students learn in new ways. The impact of the music program on children was also noticeable with the first-graders using music during non-music times. Over the project’s duration, classroom teachers noticed campus-wide changes in the role of the arts in the school including the hiring of a full-time music specialist.
Related to the study’s primary research questions, findings reflect pre-service teacher, elementary school teacher, and school-wide outcomes.
Pre-service teachers were interviewed about their reflective practice in relation to their music-teaching service learning experience. Researchers found that:
- Authentic teaching experiences fostered reflective practice throughout the project period.
- Pre-service teachers actively prepared for lessons.
- The project fostered many opportunities for in- and out-of-class reflection.
- Pre-service teachers transitioned from being students to actively seeing themselves as educators.
The project’s participating elementary school teachers were also interviewed about their experience as observers and evaluators of pre-service teachers. Teachers reported that:
- Having pre-service teachers in their classrooms promoted their own reflection, providing them with insights about their students and the potential role of music in other class activities.
- Children integrated music into their daily expression (i.e. singing, writing about music activities) and life perspectives (i.e. thinking about being a music teacher).
The principal was also interviewed, revealing that the partnership benefited children and teachers alike, which ultimately led to the hiring of a full-time music teacher at the school.