Music Education Research

June 13, 2009

Looking at the Field

Filed under: Music Ed Research — Rick Dammers @ 4:18 pm

Fung, C. V. (2008). In search of important music education research questions: The case of the United States. Bulletin of the Council for Research in Music Education, (176), 31-43.

In this study, Victor Fung emailed a two question survey to full professors of music education at Tier I universities in the United States (n=78).  A surprisingly low 31% responded.  This does not lessen the value of the article, given that the value of the sample comes from the distinguished background of the respondents. It is an still interesting point.  How can it be that a majority of leaders of research in music education in the United States can’t or won’t participate in a short survey in their field?

One of the issues raised in the article is the disconnect between research and practice. This is certainly not a new concern, but an important point. It occurs to me that reading research is not unlike becoming a listener in a particular genre of music. Connecting to jazz for example, if a listener who is new to jazz starts out listening to John Coltrane’s “A Love Supreme”, they are likely to turn it off, wondering why this is great, much as many readers who start out reading studies with complex statistical procedures may scratch their heads and close the journal.   The real value of research its influence on practice. Toward that end, as many channels as possible need to be opened so that research does influence practice. If a study remains in a journal on shelf, it is limited. When a study becomes the topic of discussion, debate (or a blog) for teachers, it has influence.

Victor Fung creates a helpful model for identifying research questions and points out the need for researchers to learn from other researchers in other parts of the world.

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