Mastery Goals in Music

Attr: John Liu

Mastery Goals in Music

Hruska (2011) advocates for the use of mastery goals to increase music student motivation. He explains how all individuals have beliefs regarding motivation and these include goal orientations. Goal orientation will lead individuals to differing approaches to learning activities and outcomes. The importance of goal orientations is that it allows for some predictability of outcomes.

Attr: John Liu

Goals are differentiated into mastery and performance goals (Dweck, 1986). Mastery goals are motivated by the learning process and the development of skills. These goals are typically associated with intrinsic motivation. Performance goals are motivated to demonstrate superior ability and skills by outperforming others. In essence, accomplishment without failure. These goals are considered extrinsically motivated goals.

Importantly, goal orientation defines reactions to mistakes and failure. When students are motivated by mastery goals, their typical reaction to failure is increased effort to master the challenge. They see these setbacks as the natural process of learning. When students are motivated by performance goals, failure and setbacks are attributed to lack of ability and these are experienced as threats to their ego, ability, and perceptions of talent (Dweck & Leggett, 1988).

Music teachers mistakenly identify learning goals they wish their students to achieve that students do not identify with. This creates issues of motivation and engagement, therefore, it is important for teachers to clarify the goals, outcomes, and the learning standards to be achieved. In essence, teachers are providing a rationale for the activity and allowing the student some scope to identify the activities goals with some of their own personal goals. It is helpful if the teacher allows the student to express some ideas, issues, or choice regarding the goals to be achieved in the activity. In this way the teacher is supportive of the student’s autonomy, facilitating satisfaction of psychological needs and increasing the quality of motivation to one which is more intrinsic.

Motivation is crucial for success in music (Schmidt, 2005). Without effort and persistence in the face of challenges, many students will not rise beyond novice level in their musical studies. Music teachers need to aware of the types of goals they set and how they articulate them to students. Setting mastery learning goals is shown to increase student motivation (Meece, Anderman, & Anderman, 2006). Mastery goals promotes persistence and deeper cognitive strategy use, ultimately leading to learning improvements (Ames, 1992; Ames & Archer, 1988; Urdan & Schoenfelder, 2006).

Teachers should focus on feedback which rewards effort, skills, task mastery, and overall improvement of the student. Teachers can help students to analyse the causes of success and failure in ways which focus on the specific skills and techniques to be developed, and avoid failure attributed to lack of practice or talent. Such focus allows for the student to develop their musical competence without reference to comparisons with other students, or to lack of ability or talent. Promotion of mastery goals and approach to learning assists students in their ability to evaluate and self-regulate their own progress. It creates an all-important cycle of motivation critical to musical success.

Ames, C. (1992). Classrooms: Goals, structures, and student motivation. Journal of Educational Psychology, 84(3), 261-271.

Ames, C., & Archer, J. (1988). Achievement goals in the classroom: Students’ learning strategies and motivation processes. Journal of Educational Psychology, 80(3), 260-267.

Dweck, C. S. (1986). Motivational processes affecting learning. American Psychologist, 41(10), 1040-1048.

Dweck, C. S., & Leggett, E. L. (1988). A social-cognitive approach to motivation and personality. Psychological Review, 95(2), 256-273.

Hruska, B. J. (2011). Using Mastery Goals in Music to Increase Student Motivation. Update: Applications of Research in Music Education, 30(1), 3-9.

Meece, J. L., Anderman, E. M., & Anderman, L. H. (2006). Classroom goal structure, student motivation, and academic achievement. Annu Rev Psychol, 57, 487-503.

Schmidt, C. P. (2005). Relations among Motivation, Performance Achievement, and Music Experience Variables in Secondary Instrumental Music Students. Journal of Research in Music Education, 53(2), 134-147.

Urdan, T., & Schoenfelder, E. (2006). Classroom effects on student motivation: Goal structures, social relationships, and competence beliefs. Journal of School Psychology, 44(5), 331-349.

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