Exploratory study of approvals and disapprovals in Australian instrumental music teaching

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Research on the use of approvals/disapprovals in classroom teaching has highlighted praise as more effective than criticism, specific evaluation more valuable than general, and gender differences. This study investigated the use of positive/negative and specific/general evaluation and gender effects in instrumental music lessons in higher education. The participants were 12 teachers and 24 students from five Australian tertiary institutions. Greater use of approvals than disapprovals was found in most lessons. The teachers were more specific when criticizing their students than when praising them. The female teachers were slightly more positive than the male teachers, but the male teachers were more specific in their appraisals of the students' playing. The female students received more teacher praise than the male students. Results support previous research and provide new evidence into the use of approvals and disapprovals in instrumental music lessons in higher education. The implications for teaching practice include greater use of specific praise and sensitivity to gender biases.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)302-314
Number of pages13
JournalInternational Journal of Music Education
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Gender
  • Instrumental music
  • Studio teaching

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