State of the Arts: Factors Influencing Ontario Elementary Teachers' Performing Arts Instruction

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Vernon, Paul
Arts Education , Elementary Education
This thesis examines Ontario elementary teachers perceptions of their teaching of the performing arts (i.e., music, drama, and dance), through responses to an online survey. Participants (N = 138) described multiple aspects of their training and experiences in the performing arts, their comfort in teaching the performing arts, and the degree to which they thought they were teaching the expectations in the curriculum document. The document “The Arts, Grades 1-8, 2009” clearly describes (a) many benefits of performing arts practice, (b) elements of practice and instruction in each performing arts area, (c) how the creative process is a part of and enhanced by participation in these activities, and (d) guidelines for assessment of and through the arts, in addition to (e) describing the many mandated specific expectations for each subject and Grade level. However, few studies have addressed the training and experience of the teachers of the performing arts, and there is a pressing need for baseline data about performing arts instruction to inform hiring, certification, and professional development policies. Descriptive statistics are presented which detail many varied elements of performing arts instruction in Ontario schools, and ANOVAs are used to compare the differences between training groups on teachers perceptions of their comfort, the frequency and duration of their instruction, and their adherence to the curricular expectations. Analyses revealed that participant teachers with high levels of training and experience reported significantly higher levels of comfort and effectiveness in their performing arts instruction than teachers with low or no training in the performing arts. Analyses also showed that participants with low amounts of formal training and limited experiences in the art form can perceive themselves as comfortable and effective at teaching the performing arts. These participants rated themselves significantly higher than participants with no training or experience. Structural conditions and broad baseline data are also presented.
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