A Study of the Relationship Between Instrumental Music Education and Critical Thinking in 8th- and 11th-Grade Students
The purpose of this study was to explore the possible relationship between instrumental music education in Grades 8 and 11 and critical thinking as assessed by the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment. The subsets that were examined included Reading (B): Interpretation and Analysis of Fictional and Nonfictional Text, which assesses the academic standards 1.1, Learning to read independently; standard 1.2, Reading critically in all content areas; standard 1.3, Reading, analyzing and interpreting literature, and Mathematics, sections C.1 Geometry- Analyze characteristics of two and three dimensional shapes, D.2 Algebraic concepts- Analyze mathematical situations using numbers, symbols, words, tables and/or graphs, and E.1 Data analysis and probability- Interpret and analyze data by formulating answers or questions (Pennsylvania Department of Education, 2009-2010). The sample consisted of Instrumental students (N = 50) and Noninstrumental music students (N = 50) over 2 graduated high school classes. The results indicated that the Instrumental music sample consistently outscored the Noninstrumental music sample when comparing the Reading B, Mathematics M.C.1, M.D.2, and M.E.1 subsections of the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment with significant increases noted from 8th to 11th grade.
About the Author
Mr. Zellner has served as Director of Instrumental Activities at Tunkhannock Area High School since 1998, where he is responsible for the marching, concert, jazz, and percussion ensembles. He graduated from Moravian College in 1996 with a Bachelor of Music degree with emphasis in education. He then went on to receive his Master's degree in music from the University of Connecticut. At UCONN, he was assistant director of the 275 member marching band, and directed the women's basketball pep band and concert band. The pep band performed all over the country and on national television several times. During his tenure, his bands performed for nearly 1 million people (not counting the television audience). Mr. Zellner also holds a Master's of science degree with an emphasis in classroom technology and a Master's of science degree with emphasis in educational development and strategies; both degrees are from Wilkes University.
In addition to his educational accomplishments, Mr. Zellner has written for two prominent music education magazines, The Instrumentalist and School, Band, and Orchestra. In 2006, he attended the Pennsylvania Governor School for the Arts where underwent an intensive study of the Pennsylvania Standards for Arts Education. In 2010, he presented a session entitled "Merging Educational Goals and Media" at the PMEA Summer Conference. The same year, he received the WVIA Great Teacher of the Year Award and appeared on live television to accept the award. In 2011, he was recognized on both the local and national levels by The National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution (NSDAR) for his localized recycling efforts.