Semester of Graduation

Spring 2022


Master of Music Education (MME)


School of Music

Document Type



Goal orientation theory (Ames, 1992; Blumenfeld, 1992) is a cognitive theory that identifies how goals affect motivation in students. The benefits of mastery goal orientation — aspects of instruction which support the connection between effort and achievement — on student motivation and participation have been well-documented. Researchers (Ames & Archer, 1988; Patrick, et al., 2001) found students can pick up on goal cues and identify traits of each theory apparent in their classroom. Teachers communicate their values through goal structures, and student motivation can be improved by consistent goal structures, or negatively affected by misaligned goal structures (Ames & Archer, 1988). The performance-based nature of large ensemble instrumental music education doubtless influences the perception of goal theory in these learning environments. The purpose of this study was to observe teacher and student perceptions of goal orientation theory occurring in the secondary instrumental music classroom.

Teachers and students in two secondary instrumental music programs were interviewed and observed regarding goal orientation theory and its presence within their classrooms. Major questions guiding this inquiry were: 1a. In what ways are teachers’ stated perceptions of their goal orientation consistent with observable characteristics of goal orientation theory? 1b. In what ways are teachers’ stated perceptions of their goal orientation inconsistent with observable characteristics of goal orientation theory? 2. What are students’ perceptions of the goal structures present in their secondary instrumental classrooms? Implications suggest that more specified positive feedback could improve student motivation. Additionally, an awareness of the performance-leaning nature of large ensemble music classrooms could help teachers implement more mastery-traits into their instruction.

Committee Chair

Stanley, Ann Marie