Theses Doctoral

Music Teacher Educators’ Perceptions of the Selection, Preparation, and Education of Cooperating Music Teachers

Gunther, James M.

Student teaching is recognized as the culminating and seminal experience of preservice teacher education. It is a unique time when preservice teachers are fully engaged in daily responsibilities of P-12 music educators, while under direct supervision of a mentor, often referred to as the cooperating music teacher (CMT). CMTs have immense influence on student teachers during this pivotal point in their education. The purpose of this convergent mixed methods study was to explore preferences and practices of music teacher educators (MTEs) in the United States with regards to the selection, preparation, and education of CMTs, through the lens of Abramo and Campbell’s Four Notions Framework. Data were collected through a document search of state administrative codes, rules, and regulations regarding selection criteria for CMTs, a national survey of MTEs (n = 104), and semi-structured follow-up interviews of survey participants (n = 10). This study demonstrated the importance of MTE agency and student involvement in the selection process and selection criteria that is responsive to diverse and localized needs of institutions of higher education, P-12 schools, and individual student teachers. Findings argue against universal criteria for CMTs in favor of policies that are appropriate and sensible for diverse teaching and learning contexts.

Findings indicate a prevalence of published criteria for the selection of CMTs across the United States, paired with a disconnect between the prevalence of policy and MTEs knowledge of those state policies, and a lack of published policy at institutions of higher education. MTEs in the study reported community building and individual relationships as important elements that facilitate the selection, preparation, and education of CMTs. MTEs also demonstrated strong agreement with the importance of the Four Notions Framework and indicated student involvement dispositional criteria for CMTs (e.g., good role model, willingness to discuss feedback) to be elements of the selection process they valued most. The strong agreement with the Four Notions Framework positions it as a useful tool to evaluate effectiveness of selection criteria and available professional development.

Availability of professional development for CMTs appears to be an important area of growth for the profession. MTEs identified themselves as primary providers of professional development, through informal and formal individualized interactions they have with CMTs. While handbooks for CMTs appear to be prevalent, findings demonstrate they are an underutilized tool for preparation and education of CMTs. MTEs shared mixed perceptions about alignment of available professional development with the Four Notions Framework, indicating effectiveness of those opportunities, in helping to promote dispositions and qualifications MTEs value, is another area of growth.

The availability of qualified and effective CMTs emerged as a primary barrier, alongside other expected barriers such as geographic contexts, time, funding, staffing, and full workloads. MTEs in this study also identified institutionalized structures and policies intended to support CMTs that sometimes act as barriers to selection, preparation, and education. A lack of common terminology in the field of music teacher education may also act as a barrier to collaboration and communication about policies and processes.

Implications and recommendations are offered for further exploration of selection criteria, advancement of professional development, and further lines of inquiry.

Geographic Areas


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Arts and Humanities
Thesis Advisors
Parkes, Kelly A.
Ed.D., Teachers College, Columbia University
Published Here
May 31, 2023