The Council for Research in Music Education

A Brief History of the Outstanding Dissertation Award


     The concept of the Outstanding Dissertation Award (ODA) seems to have been conceived early in 1980. Several pieces of correspondence between Colwell and members of the Council Advisory Committee were found in Bulletin files that indicated discussion of the idea. Not surprisingly, the consensus toward establishing an ODA was mixed but appeared generally favorable. Writing to Advisory Committee member Sally Monsour, Colwell asserted that:

My colleagues on campus who publish the Review of Research in Visual Arts Education that was modeled after the Bulletin have finally confined me of the success of their award for excellence in dissertation research. (letter, March 12, 1980)

The ODA did not come to fruition, however, until several years later. In a letter sent in the spring of 1983 to doctoral dissertation advisors across the country, Colwell wrote:

For some time the Bulletin staff has discussed the initiation of an award for the best doctoral dissertation in music education. We have elected to proceed with this project and to suitably recognize, each year, at least one student for his or her contribution to the profession through excellence in research.

Similar awards are common in art education, educational administration, and a host of fields outside of arts an education. Realizing the diversity of our profession, criteria have not been established for the first award (letter, April 27, 1983)

Colwell then enumerated the procedures for the process, which included soliciting nominations from a representative of each doctoral-granting institution, establishing a review panel to review the dissertations, and properly recognizing the winner. He requested nominations "…from you of dissertations completed during the calendar year of 1982. If I do not hear from you by May 20th, I will assume that you have no nominations for this particular year" (letter, April 27, 1983).

     These procedures have, with minor modifications, been followed throughout the history of the ODA. The first awards were announced in 1987 in the "Late Summer" (Number 93). edition, and included recipients for 1982, 1983, 1984, and 1985. The 1982 winner was Richard Sang, who completed his PhD thesis at the University of Michigan. Named as "Honorable Mention" were Robert Cutietta (Pennsylvania State University), Thomas Horning (Case Western Reserve University), and Teresa Tutt (University of Oregon).

     The 12 recipients of the OD through 1993 completed studies exemplifying various research paradigms and methodologies, including several philosophical and qualitative studies. From 1986–1989 no award was given, but four individuals received the distinction in 1990.

Excerpt from:

Grashel, J., & Leblanc, A. (1998). The Council for Research in Music Education: The first three decades. Bulletin for the Council for Research in Music Education, 138. 1–18.

Previous ODA Recipients

"They Wasn't Makin' My Kinda Music": Hip-Hop, Schooling, and Music Education
Adam J. Kruse

A Social Phenomenological Investigation of Music Teachers' Senses of Self, Place, and Practice
Elizabeth Bucura

Music at Home: A Portrait of Family Music-Making
Patricia Gingras

Justifying Music Education: Econometric Analyses of Issues in Music Education Policy
Kenneth Elpus

Voices Not Heard: Voice-Use Profiles of Elementary Music Teachers, the Effects of Voice Amplification on Vocal Load, and Perceptions of Issues Surrounding Voice Use
Sharon Morrow

Conceptions of Effective Teaching and Role-Identity Development Among Preservice Music Educators
Wesley D. Brewer

Career decisions of string music educators: Factors associated with retention, migration, and attrition
Joshua Alexander Russell

Teaching Music to Students with Special Needs: A Phenomenological Examination of Participants in a Fieldwork Experience
Ryan Hourigan

Socialization and Occupational Identity Among Preservice Music Teachers Enrolled in Traditional Baccalaureate Degree Programs
Daniel Scott Isbell

Merry Throngs and Street Gangs: The Fabrication of Whiteness and the Worthy Citizen in Early Vocal Instruction and Music Appreciation, 1830–1930
Ruth Gustafson

Crossing Over: Mutual Learning and Democratic Action in Instrumental Music Education
Randall Everett Allsup

The Transmission of Ghanaian Music by Culture-Bearers: From Master Musician to Music Teacher
Sheila J. Feay-Shaw

Teacher Practice, Pedagogical Discourses and the Construction of Knowledge: Two Case Studies of Teachers at Work
Thorolf Kruger

Consistency of Tempo Judgments as a Measure of Time Experience in Music Listening
Eleni Lapidaki

Qualitative and Quantitative Relationships between Children's Creative Musical Thinking Processes and Products
Maud Mary Hickey

Perceptual Modalities in Music Listening Among Third-Grade Students
Robert E. Dunn

A History of Multicultural Music Education in the Public Schools of the United States, 1900–1990
Therese Volk

A History of the Northshore Concert Band, Wilmette, Illinois, 1956–1986: The First Thirty Years
William Carson

Images of Imagination: A Philosophical Study of Imagination in Music with Application to Music Education
Mary Reichling

Intelligence and Feeling: A Philosophical Examination of These Concepts as Interdependent Factors in Music Experience and Music Education
W. Ann Stokes

Music Education and the Quest for Cultural Identity in Ireland, 1831–1989
Marie McCarthy

Melodic Schemata, Forms of Representation, and Cognitive Strategies Used by Fourth-Graders in the Recall and Reproduction of Familiar Songs
Janet Barrett

The Effects of Vocal Coordination Instruction of the Pitch Accuracy, Range, Pitch Discrimination, and Tonal Memory of Inaccurate Singers
Jeffrey Aaron

Factors Affecting Accuracy in Children’s Singing
Mary Goetze

A Phenomenology of Music Themes Concerning the Musical Object and Implications for Teaching and Learning
Douglas Bartholomew

A Computer-Based Trainer for Music Conducting: The Effects of Four Feedback Modes
David Schwaegle

The Effects of Group Breath Control Training on Selected Vocal Measures Related to the Singing Ability of Elementary Students in Grades Two, Three, and Four
Kenneth Phillips

Modified Path Analysis of a Skills-Based Instructional Effectiveness Model for Beginning Teachers in Instrumental Music Education
Richard Sang

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