Document Type


Date of Degree

Fall 2013

Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Degree In


First Advisor

Cohen, Mary

First Committee Member

Adamek, Mary

Second Committee Member

Woods-Groves, Suzanne

Third Committee Member

Iverson, Jennifer

Fourth Committee Member

Bruhn, Allison


The purpose of this study was to examine four elementary/general music educators (EGME) enrolled in a music and special education graduate course, on their attitudes toward teaching children with disabilities and how they applied knowledge gained from the course in their classrooms. Data collection began on the first class session, February 9th, 2013, and ended on May 30th, 2013, after the final interview. Data included (a) my field notes of the two class sessions and journal entries throughout the study, (b) documents including e-mail correspondence between the participants and myself, participants' school district's state report cards, and the participants' survey data, (c) participants' gallery walk assignments, (d) participants' journals, and (e) participants' interview transcripts.

In this qualitative study, data analysis began while collecting data. I read and reread each document and assigned codes to phrases or sections of the data, with the codes coming directly from the text under review. Individual themes included Dylan's confirmation of what he knew, Ashley's willingness to ask for advice, Veronica's need to build rapport and her recently developed awareness of children with disabilities, and how Ginger's perspective on teaching children with disabilities over her teaching career had evolved and her use of an individual approach to behavior management. Themes represented in more than one participants' data included Ashley's and Ginger's theme of continuing to grow; Dylan's, Veronica's, and Ginger's theme on their worries and concerns for their students with disabilities; and all four EGMEs had the theme beneficial/enlightening to their teaching based on the knowledge gained from the graduate course.

All four participants indicated that they gained more knowledge about children with disabilities in this specific music education graduate course than they did during their undergraduate studies. Each participant had specific goals and objectives when enrolling in the graduate course that aligned with past research, confirming that music educators want to learn more about practical strategies in the classroom, to acquire more information on managing behaviors--especially with children with emotional/behavioral disorder, and to work more effectively with paraprofessionals in the classroom. All four participants thought they left the graduate course with more tools in their toolbox, and Ginger and Veronica reported that they felt affirmed in their current teaching strategies.

This study demonstrates how four EGMEs had positive attitudes toward teaching children with disabilities and how the graduate course gave them specific strategies and skills to help improve their music instruction for children with disabilities. Recommendations included: (a) more research on professional development for music educators, (b) more professional development on inclusion for music educators, (c) more training for preservice music educators on teaching children with disabilities, and (d) follow-up research studies.


children with disabilities, graduate course, music education, professional development, special education


xv, 235 pages


Includes bibliographical references (pages 166-176).


Copyright 2013 Giovanna Adelia Davila

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Music Commons