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Comparisons of Attitudinal Assessments in Middle and Junior High School General Music

Jacquelyn Boswell
Bulletin of the Council for Research in Music Education
No. 108 (Spring, 1991), pp. 49-57
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/40318437
Page Count: 9
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Comparisons of Attitudinal Assessments in Middle and Junior High School General Music
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Abstract

The purpose of the study was to investigate variables believed to contribute to student attitudes about general music. Students (N = 394) in four middle and junior high schools from a suburban area in Arizona participated in the study. Two measures of attitude were administered in the late Spring of 1987. One instrument, Music Attitude Inventory (MAI), assessed students' preferences for music class activities. The second instrument, Music Class Attitude Index (MCAI), assessed students' global attitudes about the music class. Both instruments had been previously cited in the research literature and showed promise for continued investigation. Comparisons were drawn between results of the present study, conducted in schools where music classes were taught using an eclectic approach, and an earlier study, conducted in Connecticut where schools used a single approach (MMCP). Identical items were used on MCAI. Several patterns could be noted: (a) students were remarkably similar in their responses on the MCAI measure–the highest scoring statements and lowest scoring statements were identical for both samples; (b) female scores were higher than males on MCAI and MAI, supporting other findings in the literature about gender differences and subject-matter attitudes; (c) the relationship between global attitudes and preferences of activities is moderately strong (the 1987 study found r = .67, p < .01 and the 1980 study found r = .68, p < .01); and (d) the present study found that, as measured by both MAI and MCAI, attitudes vary significantly according to teacher, grade level, and gender. The teacher variable (or approach used in the classroom) appears especially interesting for future attitudinal research. Results of the MAI, which identifies the activities used in each class and lists them proportionately, pinpoint students' preferred activities. Choices ranking high indicate that students clearly favor playing instruments over singing and describing activities. Furthermore, activities where some element of "choice" is given to students are preferred. High and low ranked items that have particular interest and instructional value to general music educators were also presented. The similarity of the results gives increasing confidence in the measures used in 1980 and 1987 to assess attitudes. Both attitudinal measures appear promising for future research, especially in cases where comparisons of two different populations are desired.

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