Characteristics of tenacious teachers in Alabama: a comparison and measurement of band directors' grit and self-efficacy in low, medium, and high SES schools

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University of Alabama Libraries

Research has shown that band programs at schools serving mostly low-income students have low student participation and depressed academic achievement. Furthermore, these same programs have reported difficulty recruiting and retaining band directors as they seem to prefer schools with access to more resources and support (Bruenger, 2010, Madsen & Hancock, 2002). Understanding the characteristics of band directors who choose to work in low socioeconomic (SES) schools may provide teacher trainers and professional associations with a means to identify individuals with a propensity and interest in working in schools serving predominantly low SES students. Moreover, accounting for teaching experience may help ensure SES is the primary factor being examined. In order to determine whether a relationship between those band directors employed at schools serving financially advantaged and disadvantaged students was related to their teaching experience and personality traits (i.e., grit and self-efficacy), I created a survey and conducted two studies to address four research questions. The purpose of the first study to compare the grit and self-efficacy of band directors teaching in schools enrolling primarily low, moderate, and high SES students while accounting for band directors' teaching experience. The purpose of the second study was to confirm whether the components comprising grit and self-efficacy, revealed in the first study, were applicable to band directors drawn from the entire membership of the Alabama Bandmasters Association. One-hundred and four band directors attending the Alabama All-State Festival voluntarily filled out a 31-question survey derived from prior research on Grit and Self-Efficacy (Duckworth, 2013; Sherer, Maddux, Merdandante, Prentice-Dunn, Jacobs & Rogers, 1982). An exploratory factor analysis of the participants' responses revealed the presence of two Grit factors representing Consistency of Interests and Perseverance of Effort, and five Social Self-Efficacy factors comprising Perception of Reaction to Adversity, Perception of Tenacity, Perception of Ability, and Confidence for Self-Efficacy. These scores served as dependent variables and results from an analysis of covariance revealed no differences between socioeconomic groups for any of the factor scores. In general, public school band directors in Alabama demonstrated a high degree of grit and self-efficacy despite the SES of their school assignments. Factors that emerged for Grit and Self-Efficacy were then examined using a confirmatory factor analysis to determine the stability of the structure with a larger pool of Alabama Band Directors. Three-hundred and seven band directors who were members of the Alabama Bandmasters Association were invited to participate in an online survey that was functionally identical to the one used previously. Results verified factor structure revealed in the first study Grit and Self-efficacy. Detailed analysis revealed item loadings for Grit and Self-Efficacy were similar to other populations supporting the use of Grit and Self-Efficacy with Alabama Band Directors in future research.

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Music education, Music