Process theory is applied as a best practice to motivate, scaffold, and address differentiation among music students in an ensemble. This action research project examines a jazz ensemble consisting primarily of 9th and 10th graders who are developing performance, improvisation, musical facility, and ensemble skills. The author examines his own pedagogical development by examining journal entries, mentor feedback, and a student survey. The research focused on three primary questions:

  1. How can I build a team culture that improves the student experience and grows musicianship while also promoting inclusiveness cohesiveness, and social acceptance?
  2. How can I best encourage students to develop their self-agency while also improving their ability to see consequences as products of their actions?
  3. How can I best set goals for my students, assist them in setting their own goals and develop their ability to manage their expectations?

The inclusive, positive team culture created a learning environment where students shared experiences and affirmed each other. The new culture affected growth in a sense of equity, social awareness, and group responsibility. Music teachers can develop self-agency in students, vastly improving their self-value, ability to learn, and perform in the ensemble. Further, developing self-agency is an effective means of addressing differentiation within an ensemble. When students have an increased awareness of goal management, music teachers can better implement differentiation, scaffolding, and best practices.

Keywords: music, education, process theory, differentiation, pedagogy, self-agency

Exit Requirement

Action Research

Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Teaching (initial licensure)

Committee Chair

Melanie Landon-Hays

Committee Member

Amy Bowden

Committee Member

Kevin Egan


music, education, process theory, differentiation, pedagogy, self-agency



Type (DCMI Terms)


Subject Categories

Music Education | Music Pedagogy

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