Faculty of Education and Arts
School of Education
Retaining students in elective class music programmes is an issue in many secondary schools. Retention is particularly problematic among lower secondary students. Eccles (2005) states that the subjective task values students attach to learning activities in any elective subject are key indicators of future enrolment decisions. Accordingly, this article reports on a study which utilized subjective task values as a theoretical foundation for investigating why many students drop out of elective class music programmes at this early stage. Specifically, the article reports on a study into students’ valuing of class music learning activities in Western Australia. Participating students were in their first year at secondary school (age 12–13 years), and their values for class music learning activities were measured at the start and end of the academic year. Findings revealed a decline in all values components, particularly situational intrinsic value, mirroring declines reported across other subjects among students of this age. Given criticism of the theoretical frameworks and methodologies associated with much past research into retention in music education, this study promotes subjective task values as a valid and reliable framework for progressing research in the field of class music. The article briefly synthesizes recommendations for enhancing student task values drawn from the general motivational literature with the finding of this study, and concludes by considering issues and possible directions for future research.