Practices, Perceptions, and Needs of Primary School Generalist Art & Music Teachers in Singapore: An Investigation of the Pedagogical Changes & Differences of Generalists after a Specialist Professional Development Program

Project Number
OER 32/12 OP

Project Duration
January 2013 - March 2016


In January 2011, NIE's VPA (Visual and Performing Arts) in collaboration with the CPDD (Curriculum Planning & Development Division, MOE) introduced a full time in-service music & art teacher Advanced Diploma program as a short-term measure to address the shortage of specialist teachers in these fields in Singapore primary schools. This study proposes to investigate the differences between generalists and generalists turned specialists through an intensive professional development program and identify the various factors which influence classroom practices such as delivery, assessments, and materials development. The study also aims to frame the investigation in the perceptions of the teachers in order to determine their needs in connecting newly acquired content knowledge to actual classroom teaching. The outcomes of this research will be valuable for future studies in the assessment of the long-term programs planned by NIE and CPDD to increase the numbers of qualified art and music teachers in the schools. The research design is a mixed method including quantitative measures (questionnaire, frequency tables, non-parametric and t- tests) and qualitative research methodology of 8 case studies (4 music, 4 art), sampled from two groups: 50 program participants (Group 1) and 50 generalist teachers (Group 2). There will be two phases to the proposed study, which are projected for completion in one year and three months. The first phase will constitute the distribution of questionnaire to set data context verified through semi-structured interviews. The questionnaire and interview will be administered to 4 groups: to Groups 1 & 2 towards the completion of the program by Group 1; and to the incoming January 2013 Advanced Diploma students plus an additional 50 generalists. The responses will be the basis of sampling the case studies. The second, longer phase will follow the 8 case studies in their actual classroom settings. A reflective thinking, open-ended questionnaire will be distributed across two terms nine times and coded based on existing literature. This phase will also constitute semi-structured interviews, field observations, focus groups and artifact collection. There will be 2 focus groups for Groups 1 & 2, one at the end of each term. The proposed study is relevant to the still on-going generalist-specialist debate in the academic literature on music and art education. It contributes specifically to the investigation of pedagogies, teacher perceptions, and connection of content knowledge to practice. The framework for observation and evaluation of classroom practices will be drawn from extant and relevant studies in both fields. The research will also be the first on this topic to be contextualized in the Singapore schools. Lastly, this proposal is consistent with the NIE Research Priorities, specifically, the evaluation of teacher learning for quality education. It is also a timely response to the recommendations of the PERI Committee in 2009, which advocates ''greater emphasis on balancing knowledge with skills and values, and providing more resources for a quality primary education'' (p.1). Of utmost importance in the report is the creation of more engaging teaching methods through the training of more specialist teachers in non-academic programs such as PE, Music and Art.

Research Themes
Music & Arts

Funding Source

Related Links
ReEd Vol 13 (2014): The Need for Specialists

Related Projects