The University of St. Thomas


Cruse Janet

Cruse Janet

Assessing Student Achievement: Current Practices of Elementary Classroom Music Teachers
Janet Debelak Cruse

The intent of this investigation was to determine the assessment practices of elementary classroom music teachers for the purpose of assisting elementary music teachers in developing and implementing assessment practices in their teaching. Four areas of music learning were examined: (1) performing (singing and playing classroom instruments); (2) creating (improvising and composing); (3) using music notation (reading and writing music using invented and standard notation); and (4) listening (analyzing and describing what is heard). In each learning area, five aspects of formal assessment were investigated: frequency with which individual student achievement was assessed, conditions for assessment, types of assessment, measurement tools, and documentation of student work. It was assumed in this investigation that assessment of student learning is possible. This was a descriptive study using quantitative data that was collected through a forced-response, mailed survey. Subjects (N = 9) were elementary classroom music teachers in a suburban Minnesota public school district. The survey elicited responses regarding subjects' demographics, beliefs and assumptions regarding assessment, and assessment practices.

An investigation into teaching strategies used to improve intonation was also a focus in this project. Concepts included: (1) awareness; (2) use of a tuner; (3) beat elimination; (4) vocalization; (5) knowledge of instrument and performance pitch tendencies; and, (6) recording. Exercises to teach these concepts with instrumentalists were also incorporated into the project.
Interviews were conducted with seven instrumental music educators on ways to improve intonation. Each of the seven interviewees were asked the same questions about intonation. However, each interview had a different wind instrument as the focus. The seven interviews centered on intonation in regards to the flute, double reeds, clarinet, saxophone, trumpet, horn, and low brass. Interviewees were asked to share their opinions, techniques, and strategies they use to help instrumentalists in improving their intonation and pitch matching skills. Their ideas have been summarized and included as a part of this project.

This project serves as a resource for instrumental music educators on improving intonation. Through the examination of published literature, research documents, and interviews of instrumental music educators, a collection of many ideas and approaches to improving intonation were discovered.

Thesis Supervisor
Dr. Carroll Gonzo