Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Cornelia Yarbrough


This study nested a behavioral design within an experimental design to observe performance improvement after structuring the presentation of musical academic tasks, and to examine the effect of teacher reinforcement on student attentiveness, musical achievement, and attitude in choral ensembles. Two high school choral music classes (N = 60) were assigned intact to one of two treatments. The No Feedback Group (n = 29) received task presentations and directions followed by student performance and no verbal/facial teacher reinforcement. The Feedback Group (n = 31) received task presentations, directions, student performance, and teacher reinforcement. Three similar choral music excerpts were edited for use in the study. The structured presentation of musical concepts across six rehearsals was analyzed within a multiple baseline design. Concept presentations to improve pitch and rhythm accuracy, diction, articulation, dynamics, phrasing and word stress, were identical for both treatment groups and sequenced to improve musical performances. Instruction was evaluated using the sequential patterns of instruction model. Forty choral performances were recorded for evaluation by three expert judges. Individual concepts were evaluated using 10-point scales, and overall performances were evaluated using 100-point scales. Results indicated that similar performance gains were made for all excerpts, though less instructional time was needed to teach previously learned concepts in new musical contexts. Choirs were able to maintain performance gains made immediately after instruction through subsequent rehearsals, despite the addition of new musical concepts. Instruction was stopped for 11 days, and a slight ratings decline was recorded prior to continued instruction, but scores recovered to previous levels quickly. Students receiving feedback were observed off-task a larger percentage of instructional time than students receiving no feedback. Both groups demonstrated lowest off-task percentages during group performance activities and increased off-task percentages during sectional performance and non-performance activities. Overall performances by the Feedback Group were rated higher (mean gain difference = 9.22 points) for the three excerpts. A more positive attitude toward rehearsal aspects was indicated consistently by subjects receiving feedback. Conclusions from the experimental study support previous research on the effect of teacher reinforcement on student performance and attitude, but not attentiveness.