Ivan O'Connor, Investigating the attitudes, values and experiences of primary school teachers in middle and senior classes towards popular music (MA, Mary Immaculate College, University of Limerick, 2016)

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 Author:  O'Connor, Ivan 
 Title:  Investigating the attitudes, values and experiences of primary school teachers in middle and senior classes towards popular music 
 Degree, institution:  MA, Mary Immaculate College, University of Limerick 
 Status, year:  accepted, 2016 
 Volumes, pp.:  1 (143pp.) 
 Supervisor(s):  Gwen Moore 
 Repository:  Mary Immaculate College Library 
 General specialism:  Music Education 
 Content, key terms: 
 Abstract: 

This study sought to investigate the attitudes, values and experiences of Irish primary school teachers to popular music. Although international studies abound on popular music within secondary and higher education contexts, little research has been conducted on attitudes and experiences of popular music at primary level. Furthermore, research within the Irish context has tended to focus on approaches to content and pedagogy in the primary curriculum. To date, no study has examined teachers' attitudes, values and experiences of popular music at primary level.

The study employed a mixed methods approach towards investigating the research topic. Participants in the study were sought from twelve counties across the qualitative and quantitative data collection phrases. This entailed the use of qualitative interviews to gather insights from ten primary school teachers from a variety of school settings. Following analysis of the interview data, a survey questionnaire was devised to triangulate data from the interviews.

Findings reveal that teachers present with differing values and attitudes to popular music, in both their professional and personal lives. Whilst they frequently listened to popular music themselves in their personal lives, they associated the educational value of the genre with being used in a topical or thematically integrated manner rather than for musical learning in its own right. The differences between personal and professional values of popular music were also observed as being influenced by the reproduction of ideological values and attitudes. The professional identity of the teacher, as well as the values they were seen to be custodians of, appeared to be creating conflict within teachers as to whether they may use popular music in the classroom with young children or not. Teachers raised issues of concern around appropriate content for primary school pupils which also influenced their perception of the limiting nature of popular music as a genre to be taught. Popular music was perceived as limited in classroom use, yet appeared to elicit positive engagement and autonomy from pupils whenever it was used. Furthermore, the research found that the teachers felt they not only lacked the confidence to teach popular music in its own right , but also music as a subject. Many participants were not satisfied with their teacher training and preparation for music pedagogy and related their abilities to teach music predominantly on their own personal musical background.

The study makes recommendations for practice, including the need to address teachers' concerns regarding teacher training. It is suggested that it is necessary to increase opportunities for further professional development in music, as well as equipping teachers with the knowledge, skills and resources to teach popular music itself. Further research may yield more insights into sub-genres of popular music as well as the possibilities of the age of the teacher being a factor in incorporating popular music in the classroom.