Date of Award

Spring 2-7-2011

Degree Type

Closed Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Middle-Secondary Education and Instructional Technology

First Advisor

Patrick K. Freer


This study explored the development of musical self-efficacy and musical self-image in 35 young adolescents choral musicians engaged in a vocal improvisation program. A mixed methods methodology was employed. Quantitative measures were conducted through a survey instrument developed for this study based on a five-fold theoretical structure of efficacy development. Using a sequential explanatory design, quantitative data was followed by interviews, written reflections, and participant and teacher/researcher field notes. Participants were engaged in daily vocal improvisation activities for 16 weeks. Four transitions points in the study demarcated data collection segments. Transitions consisted of two participant observations and two improvisation concert performances.

Findings indicate significant increases in two efficacy source factors: mastery experience and peer vicarious experience. Vocal improvisation facilitated mastery experience perceptions of vocal development through vocal range expansion. Interactive peer vicarious experiences were found to be an important source of efficacy information and an essential feature of musical self-efficacy development. The musical self-efficacy journey was found to be one of ebb and flow as participants struggled to negotiate the musical and social challenges of vocal improvisation.

Findings from this study suggest differences in the ways girls and boys negotiated the musical and social challenges of vocal improvisation. Despite

the inherent struggles of participants to negotiate these challenges, vocal improvisation provided a rich environment for the study of musical self-efficacy and musical self-image development. Musical self-image was revealed through multifaceted perceptions of musical/creative growth, participant self-regulatory actions and the values participants ascribed to the improvisation experience.

Study findings include teacher/researcher reflections on the experience of teaching vocal improvisation in a middle school choral classroom. These reflections include an analysis of teacher identity tensions related to the creative development of students and the performance expectations of the teacher and the musical community.