Document Type


Date of Degree

Fall 2010

Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Degree In


First Advisor

Cohen, Mary L.

First Committee Member

Coffman, Don

Second Committee Member

Adamek, Mary

Third Committee Member

Woods-Groves, Suzanne

Fourth Committee Member

Iverson, Jennifer


While creative thinking is often conceptually associated with performing and visual arts, research has suggested that music education often focuses more so on convergent skills, such as singing or music literacy, than on divergent skills, such as composing and improvising. The primary purpose of this study was to examine elementary general music teachers' (EGMTs) perceptions of creative thinking and its value as part of the elementary general music curriculum. The secondary purpose was to determine how, and to what extent, EGMTs designed and facilitated creative thinking activities for their students.

EGMTs (N=283) completed an on-line questionnaire with closed- and open-ended questions. The duration of participants' teaching experience ranged from a few months to 43 years. The participants reported a wide array of additional training including Orff, Kodaly, Dalcroze, Music Learning Theory, and Technology in Music Education (TI:ME).

Quantitative data analyses consisted of descriptive statistics, including frequency counts, percentages, and descriptions of central tendency. A series of Friedman's tests measured differences between dependent variables; Kruskal-Wallis tests were used to find significant relationships between teacher demographics and creative thinking perceptions and practices. Qualitative data analyses included open-coding of categories generated from participant responses.

Results indicated that 94.8% of participants perceived creative thinking as an essential outcome of elementary general music. However, participants rated composition and improvisation as less essential than most other national content skills. A majority of participants, 72.0%, reported that they considered themselves well-trained to facilitate creative thinking activities. However, 71.7% of participants reported difficulties in designing and implementing on-going creative thinking activities for their students, citing lack of time, resources, and physical teaching space as significant challenges.

Narratives from open-ended questions indicated that most participants desired more ideas for implementing creative thinking tasks, in the form of training, collaboration with peers, and published materials. This investigation indicated a need for continued discussion among practitioners, researchers and learners as to the role of creative thinking in elementary general music, in order to achieve a shared professional vision that enables creative thinking as a common practice in elementary general music classrooms.


creativity, education, music, psychology, teachers' perceptions


xii, 172 pages


Includes bibliographical references (pages 159-172).


Copyright 2010 Sarah Mae Fairfield

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Music Commons