Attrition In Graduate Music Programs: The Influence Of Environmental And Motivational Factors


6:00 pm

Speaker: Dr Patricia Gonzalez, Professor of Music Education, Autonomous University of Chihuahua

Date: 28 July 2011

Time: 6pm - 7pm

Venue: Old Arts Building, Theatre B, The University of Melbourne Parkville Campus (see map)

Cost: FREE


Despite the increasing number of students in music education graduate programs, attrition rates suggest a lack of success in retaining students and assisting them to the completion of their degree. Although past research studies suggest several external factors as the main causes of this phenomenon, little is known about the value system that music and music education graduate students hold in relation to their academic career and how that might determine their persistence and continuation as researchers and practitioners. Students are influenced by their expectancies for success (competence beliefs) and their subjective valuing of participating in a particular activity (Expectancy- Value Theory). These two components interact with external factors, such as the school environment, family, society and peers, and other internal factors. Based on the Expectancy-Value Theory, the aim of this study was to examine students’ competence beliefs and values, as well as their complex interaction with the social system, their actions and possible outcomes (e.g., getting a degree and pursuing a career as a researcher). Data collection included online questionnaires sent to students from three graduate programs in Mexico, as well as observations of environmental factors which have enhanced or undermined students’ motivational beliefs. Preliminary results have shown gender differences; female students hold higher values to graduate school while male students hold higher expectations for success. Factors affecting positively included career development, income increase, academic achievement as a job requirement, and interest in research. Factors affecting negatively included economic impact, lack of time, insufficient support but high expectations from faculty, distance and lack of communication from advisors. Based on results, strategies are formulated to improve retention rates of graduate music programs and to foster successful development of graduate students as future researchers.


Patricia González is Professor of Music Education at the Autonomous University of Chihuahua and graduate advisor in the Doctorate in Music Education: A Multidisciplinary Perspective offered by the University of Granada. Dr. González coordinates the First Series of Conferences and Workshops for the Professional development in the Arts. In 2009, she earned her Ph.D. from the University of Illinois. Since 2007, she has collaborated in the first international mapping exercise to examine students’ motivation to music as compared to other school subjects, led by Prof Gary E. McPherson (University of Melbourne). She has been invited as a lecturer in the graduate program at the National School of Music (Autonomous University of Mexico) and has offered music teacher education courses at the National Institute of Fine Arts. In addition, she has presented papers in several national and international conferences, such as ISME World and Regional Conferences (Italy, United States, Argentina, China); MENC Biennal Conference (Minneapolis); Latin American and Caribbean Summit for Arts Education (UNESCO, Colombia); Inter-American Workshop on the role of arts and communications media promoting democratic values and practices among children and youth (OAS, Dominican Republic); and, Social Commitment Association for Quality in Education (México).