Date of Award

May 2017

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Teaching and Leadership


Joseph B. Shedd


Dispositions, Music Educator Dispositions, Perceptual Psychology, Professional Identity

Subject Categories




This study examines the disposition characteristics of twelve music educators with varying demographic and discipline backgrounds. The primary purpose of the study is to extract the dispositions of music educators and to make connections among dispositions, identity, and behaviors, all from the music educators’ perspectives.

The theoretical framework of perceptual psychology (Combs and Snygg, 1959) informs the data collection and analysis portions of this study. Detailed interviews were conducted with the study’s twelve participants, using questions structured around four dimensions that previous perceptual psychology studies had found to be useful in distinguishing different educator dispositions (Perception of Self, Perception of Others, Perception of Purpose, and General Frame of Reference) as well as other open-ended questions designed to elicit other perspectives. I analyzed these interviews using both quantitative and qualitative approaches (Barrett and Stauffer, 2009; Clandinin, 2006; Clandinin and Connelly, 1995; Creswell and Clark, 2007; Creswell, Clark, and Gutmann, 2003; Tashakkori and Creswell, 2007), providing a resonant narrative foundation for music educator dispositions. Previous studies of dispositions using the perceptual psychology framework only distilled participant narratives into a numerical score, leaving readers with a limited understanding of the concepts being represented. This study uses a mixed method approach, consisting of the narrative scores generated by two trained raters as well as a narrative inquiry approach, to generate a rich understanding of the dispositions studied, from the perspective of and in the words of the music educators themselves. I conducted extended interviews with subjects about their experiences, and then had two independent raters

rate them on various perceptual psychology dimensions. I then further analyzed these interviews to identify stories or characterizations to illustrate these dimensions and to identify other themes.

Using the quantitative method of inference ranking, I conclude that the twelve music educators fall into two distinct groups, distinguished by differences in each of the four original categories. Closer analysis of participant narratives provides support for the inference rankings, support for the four categories, and yields additional themes such as identity, behaviors, and various approaches to teaching. Music educators’ connections to their personal and professional identities fall within the Perceptions of Self dimension. While the study itself does not address the question of how particular teacher dispositions may affect students’ learning, its focus on the relationship between values, attitudes, and beliefs and teacher behaviors toward students lays the foundation for future studies to address that question.

Keywords: dispositions, music educator dispositions, professional identity, perceptual psychology


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