Date of Award


Document Type

Thesis - ECU Access Only


Edith Cowan University

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Faculty of Education and Arts


Post compulsory music education courses in Western Australia have undergone major curriculum reform. Reform has included a shift from a prescriptive curriculum based upon the Western canon to a more embracing practical and creative one, due for full implementation in 2009. As the numbers of students undertaking elective post compulsory music in Western Australia has been traditionally low, education authorities anticipate that more students will elect to undertake the new course. However, given previous research into motivational issues associated with the transition to secondary school, low post compulsory enrolment numbers may be reflective of retention issues arising from lower secondary class music, as much as the previous post compulsory course structure. Large numbers of students opt to discontinue music studies beyond their first year in secondary school.

This study examined the motivation of students to continue class music studies beyond their first year in secondary school (Year 8). Following an extensive review of the current literature on achievement motivation in education, the study employed Expectancy-value theory as its theoretical basis for examining the values and competence beliefs of 276, Year 8 students across eight secondary schools in Perth, Western Australia. The study included the development of an instrument to examine student values and beliefs towards class music activities at the commencement and conclusion of Year 8. In addition, for triangulation, the study employed focus groups to examine issues arising from findings associated with the instrument.

The study found that while Year 8 student values declined over the course of Year 8, their beliefs remained relatively stable. These findings implied that in many instances, students increasingly devalued the activities they undertook in class music over the course of the year, regardless of their competence beliefs. This in tum impacted upon their subsequent enrolment choices into elective music courses from Year 9. Therefore, declining valuing of class music in lower secondary school may be the major determinant of enrolment numbers in post compulsory class music, as values have been demonstrated in previous research to be accurate predictors of subsequent emohnent decisions.

The implications of this study suggest that curriculum reform may not necessarily succeed in increasing participation rates in post compulsory music education courses in Western Australia until motivational issues associated with the teaching of class music in lower school are addressed.

LCSH Subject Headings

Music -- Instruction and study -- Western Australia.

High school students -- Western Australia -- Attitudes