Motivation to study music in Australian schools: The impact of music learning, gender, and socio-economic status

McPherson, Gary E., Osborne, Margaret S., Barrett, Margaret S., Davidson, Jane W. and Faulkner, Robert (2015) Motivation to study music in Australian schools: The impact of music learning, gender, and socio-economic status. Research Studies in Music Education, 37 2: 141-160. doi:10.1177/1321103X15600914

Author McPherson, Gary E.
Osborne, Margaret S.
Barrett, Margaret S.
Davidson, Jane W.
Faulkner, Robert
Title Motivation to study music in Australian schools: The impact of music learning, gender, and socio-economic status
Journal name Research Studies in Music Education   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1834-5530
Publication date 2015-12-01
Year available 2015
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1177/1321103X15600914
Open Access Status Not yet assessed
Volume 37
Issue 2
Start page 141
End page 160
Total pages 20
Place of publication London, United Kingdom
Publisher SAGE Publications
Collection year 2016
Language eng
Formatted abstract
This study extends an eight-country mapping exercise (McPherson & O’Neill, 2010; see Research Studies in Music Education issues 2010–2011) to include students’ motivation to study music within the Australian context. It sought to determine whether music learners (students learning an instrument or voice), might be more motivated to study academic subjects at school, and whether gender and socio-economic status (SES) affected student motivation to learn music at school. A total of 2,727 students from grades 5 to 12 completed a questionnaire based on Eccles and Wigfield’s expectancy-value framework. Data collected included: ratings of competence beliefs, interest, importance, usefulness and difficulty for music, English, maths, and science; indications of whether the students were currently learning a musical instrument or voice (music learners); and whether they would like to if given the opportunity. There was an overall significant decline in competence beliefs, interest, importance, and usefulness across the school years, in contrast with increased task difficulty ratings across the school years. Music learners reported significantly higher competence beliefs, interest, importance, usefulness, and less task difficulty than non-music learners. This advantage applied across all school grades for music, competence beliefs for English in upper primary and lower secondary school grades, and for maths in lower secondary grades. Although females reported music as more important and useful than males, their competence beliefs and task difficulty ratings were equivalent. Music was considered slightly less interesting for females than for males. The value of music as a subject declined significantly for upper SES students from upper primary to lower secondary schools. The greatest number of participants (40.8%) who expressed a desire to learn a musical instrument came from the lower SES category in upper primary school. This is an important result in the Australian context, indicating that this may be a positive time to recruit learners. This study provides new information regarding the relationship between motivation and desire to learn a musical instrument across school grades, gender, and socio-economic factors.
Keyword Competence beliefs
Cross-cultural comparisons
Expectancy-value theory
Music education
School subjects
Socio-economic status
Task difficulty
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Provisional Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Official 2016 Collection
School of Music Publications
Version Filter Type
Citation counts: TR Web of Science Citation Count  Cited 1 times in Thomson Reuters Web of Science Article | Citations
Scopus Citation Count Cited 2 times in Scopus Article | Citations
Google Scholar Search Google Scholar
Created: Tue, 15 Dec 2015, 02:59:43 EST by System User on behalf of Scholarly Communication and Digitisation Service