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K-State Today

September 8, 2016

Music education professors present music integration research at biannual International Society for Music Education conference

Submitted by Sarah Hancock

Ruth Gurgel and Phillip Payne, assistant professors of music education, co-presented a paper at the biannual International Society for Music Education's 32nd World Conference on Music Education earlier this summer in Glasgow, Scotland. Their presentation, "Taking the Plunge: Practicum Experiences in Music Integration," offered research and case studies examining the effects of preparing pre-service teachers to design lessons that integrate music with social studies in elementary classrooms and with language arts in middle school classrooms.

Research has indicated increased learning and student engagement with arts integration, but some teachers are reluctant because they don't have the expertise or perceive integration as additional work. Gurgel and Payne's findings indicated that focused practicum experiences helped the students bridge theoretical knowledge from coursework and internship experiences during student teaching. They also found that music integration helped disrupt academic deficit labeling of students.

Ultimately, Gurgel and Payne aim to help teachers gain confidence and motivation to design lessons that cross disciplines and promote critical thinking.

"Students leave this project energized in exploring ways to integrate music across all disciplines. Not only does this project promote critical thinking in their students, but also in themselves as reflective practitioners of education," Payne said.

A forthcoming article in Research Issues in Music Education by Payne and co-author Frederick Burrack, professor of music education and director of the K-State Office of Assessment, explains how effective reflection predicts effective planning and instruction in the secondary classroom. The findings are applicable to a wide range of educators.

"Gurgel and Payne are conducting important research in the preparation of future educators, and although their focus is on pre-service music teachers, their findings are true of teachers of all disciplines," said Jeffrey Ward, director of the School of Music, Theatre, and Dance.

Gurgel also presented a poster at the conference. "Including Popular Music in the Choir Classroom: Student Perspectives on (Dis)engaging Instruction" detailed her work on how 7th grade choir students in a diverse urban area in the Midwest experienced and interpreted their teacher's inclusion of popular music in musical instruction. She found that bringing popular music into a classroom does not engage students on its own, but that instruction must also be challenging. She noted that teachers can use popular music elements that resonate with students' experiences to help design effective instruction.

Payne and Gurgel met researchers, graduate students and music educators from around the world at the conference, many of whom are studying similar issues in their own countries. They discussed opportunities for future international collaborations. Gurgel will start one project closer to home this semester with Vibha Jani, associate professor of interior architecture and product design in the College of Architecture, Planning, & Design. Jani has a degree in the classical music and dance of India, and she and Gurgel will work with each others' classes to model interdisciplinary collaborations and enhance students' creativity by facilitating connections between music and architecture.

Payne is currently working with the National Association for Music Education as a research advisor for the national pilot of the Music Technology Model Cornerstone Assessment where he is working with music educators across the country gathering data on music technology integration. Upon completion, Payne will collaborate with other research advisors from across the country to analyze the data and report the final results of this multiyear study in a book to be published in 2017. His other projects include a collaboration with Todd Goodson, Vickie Sherbert and LouAnn Getz in an arts integration project for rural schools, writing the epilogue for the Model Cornerstone Assessment book, and serving as the lead researcher for the Kansas A+ Schools Pilot Program.

Gurgel and Payne's travel was supported by Faculty Development Awards from the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs in the spring of 2016. 

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