Date of Thesis

Spring 2024


The purpose of this action research study was to explore how music education might provide a sense of community, develop educational skills, and discuss general best practices for teaching students with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) in a middle school autism support classroom. To examine community, educational skills, and best practices, this study completed two cycles of action research. The curriculum in Cycle 1 consisted of typical music lessons for a general music classroom. Interviews with teachers and students, video observations, and researcher reflections after each lesson were used to inform the development of Cycle 2. Cycle 2 retained the overall structure of Cycle 1 but with alterations to better support community and educational skills. Lessons included repetitive aspects, such as ending and closing with a hello/goodbye song, but new elements were added to enhance engagement for the class. For example, partner work was emphasized through instrument playing and folk dancing and more physical movement was added throughout the lesson. Suggestions for a hypothetical third cycle are also discussed. Overall, it is imperative that teachers communicate with the student, special education teachers, parents, and paraprofessionals to understand the student best. When teaching students with ASD it is good practice to include repetition with appropriate variation, multiple modes of engagement within activities, incorporate student interests, provide opportunities for partner work without teacher oversight, and maintain positive and excited enthusiasm throughout the lessons.


music, education, autism, disability, community, teacher

Access Type

Honors Thesis

Degree Type

Bachelor of Music



First Advisor

Nicholas Roseth

Second Advisor

Emily Martin