USING MUSIC TO SUPPORT LEARNING How Can the Use of Music as a Teaching Tool Support and Enhance Learning and Improve Learning Outcomes? Millicent Howard Brooklyn College – CBSE 7202TNET Action Research Mid-Term Spring/Fall 2013 Dr. Sharon O’Connor-Petruso TABLE OF CONTENTS • Abstract • Statement of the Problem • Review of Related Literature • Statement of the Hypothesis • Method - Participants - Instruments - Experimental Design/Procedure • Threats to Validity: Internal and External • Results/Data Analyses/Correlations • Discussion and Implications • References • Appendices: Appendix A - Survey Questions/Appendix B - Interview Questions Abstract • Despite educators’ best efforts, the learning experience at times tends to be tedious, dull and boring, which makes for a much more difficult classroom experience. This Action Research Project examines how early childhood learning experience can be supported and enhanced through the use of music as a teaching tool in educators’ teaching methods and practice. Using music to help with the teaching of a topic is a tool that can greatly enhance the learning experience. It proposes that early childhood learners benefit a great deal when there is interaction on their part and the use of music is a tool that generates a great deal of interaction between students and teacher. It is fun, it is engaging and interactive. The use of music in the early childhood classroom is a powerful tool for promoting learning. • This Action Research Project utilizes teachers’ response to survey inquiry, classroom teacher’s answers to interview questions, and this researcher’s classroom observation notes. The treatment – classroom teacher uses music as a tool when teaching a lesson - was administered during three different lessons over a one-week period and was compared to similar lessons taught without the use of music as a teaching tool. Results indicate a positive correlation between the use of music as a teaching tool and increased interest in learning. • The results showed marked improvement in how quickly the students learned when music was used as a teaching tool. Even struggling students grasped what was being taught much faster than when those topics were taught without the use of music. Statement of The Problem • This action research project stems from my observation of early childhood students experiencing immense difficulties with learning – they either displayed boredom, become fidgety and restless, or fell asleep during instruction. Overall, it seemed as if they were not motivated to learn and they lacked focus and concentration. The students were not engaged and the problem appeared to be lack of stimulation to enhance their learning experience and improve learning outcomes. To address this problem, I conducted a survey of first grade teachers and an interview with the classroom teacher regarding using music as a teaching tool to support and enhance the learning experience. My goal is to reduce or eliminate monotony and boredom from the students’ learning experience and to have them engaged, eager, and ready to learn. My goal is to also make learning a fun experience for them in order to maximize learning outcomes. What better way to do that than to have them participate through songs, dance, and movements! REVIEW OF RELATED LITERATURE • I discovered through my research that for very young children, music has power and meaning that go beyond words. Music and music experiences also support the formation of important brain connections that are being established over the first three years of life. Music promotes growth in the various developmental domains. (Parlakian and Lerner, 2010) • The unifying theme which ties my sources together is that music is an excellent tool to bolster children’s development and learning in the classroom. Hae Kyoung Kim and Kristen M. Kemple (2011), in their research, stated that using music to enrich the learning experience is a beneficial and appropriate activity that has supported child development and learning across cultures and histories. REVIEW OF RELATED LITERATURE (contd.) • Children come to the early childhood setting with an inherited repertoire of songs, rhymes and games learned or mimicked from family, friends and siblings. They are naturally drawn to the act of making music (Dr. Christopher Klopper & Dr. Nell Dachs, 2008). The link between music and the development of mathematical thinking is a very powerful link. There are many examples of songs that bolster numeracy skills at an early age, such as “One, two, buckle my shoe; three, four, shut the door; five, six, pick up sticks; seven, eight, lay them straight; nine, ten, a big fat hen.” Statement of the Hypothesis • Utilizing the use of music as a teaching tool to support and enhance learning in a first grade classroom where twenty four NYC public school students appear to be bored and disengaged, at times even falling asleep during instruction, will keep them engaged and focused in their learning, while allowing them to have fun at the same time. This will improve learning outcomes for the two-week implementation period during morning and afternoon sessions. Method • Participants - twenty first grade students and their classroom teacher in a NYC public school first grade class. • Instruments - Classroom Teacher’s Interview - Early Childhood Teachers’ Survey - Field Notes/Informal Assessment by Classroom Teacher of the impact of the project on students’ learning. Experimental Design/Procedure • Experimental Design : (OXO) • This research was conducted in the pre-experimental, single group pre-test, post-test design. For the pre-test a group of twenty first graders were taught a regular lesson by their classroom teacher who did not utilize the treatment - use of music as a teaching tool - in her instruction and teaching. At the end of the lesson I observed, while she tested/assessed (O) their grasp and understanding of the lesson through oral and written assessments. For the post-test, the same group of twenty first graders were taught a similar lesson another day by their classroom teacher who utilized the treatment (X) - use of music as a teaching tool - in her instruction and teaching. At the end of the lesson I observed, while she tested/assessed (O) their grasp and understanding of the lesson through oral and written assessments. This was done to measure the effectiveness of the treatment – using music as a teaching tool to enhance and support learning. Consequently, the treatment was used consistently by teacher. • Procedure • Lesson taught with No treatment; Pre-Test (O)/Assessment. • Lesson taught with Treatment (X); Post-Test (O)/Assessment Threats To Internal Validity • History - This could not possibly pose a threat since I am conducting a survey of teachers in a school where the teachers are similar in terms of their students’ demographic makeup, school funding and the fact that they are all from the NYC public school system. • Maturation - I see this as a problem as there will only be one five-minute survey administered to a few educators, but my research data is taken from peer-reviewed articles that could be considered outdated even though they are not older than five years. • Testing/Pre-Test Sensitization - This will not present a problem because the survey will be administered once. • Instrumentation - No threats predicted because the instruments used are not being changed. • Mortality - This is not a threat because the survey is expected to last for only about five to ten minutes at most. • Statistical Regression - The purpose of this survey is not to gain a numerical value, but rather centers on teachers’ attitudes, teaching practices, and beliefs so this is also not a threat to my research. • Differential Selection of Subject - This is not a threat as the teachers are of similar background so my results should not be affected. • Selection – Maturation Interaction - This should not pose a threat as my subjects – the teachers – are of the same background and from the same employment pool. Threats To External Validity • Ecological Validity - This is not a threat because all the teachers being surveyed are of the “regular” public schools so there should be true representative samples. • Generalizable Conditions - All the participants are from the same general education type program and thus a generalization could be made. • Pre-Test Treatment - There is no foreseeable threat as there is no pre-testing involved. • Selection Treatment Interaction - There is no threat detected as classes chosen are random and teachers are randomly chosen. • Specificity of Variables - No external threat perceived as the variables are unchanging. • Multiple Treatments - No threat perceived as there is only one survey. • Treatment Diffusion - This is also not a threat as the survey will be conducted only once per class with the same population. • Experimenter Effects - There may be some bias as I am familiar with some of the teachers at the school at which the survey is being conducted. • Reactive Arrangements/Participants Effects - Even though this is a completely anonymous survey, teachers may not want to criticize their school or say anything negative in the survey. Results/Data Analysis/Correlations • The results suggest that students’ learning improved when music is effectively used as a teaching tool by educators. Students did not display signs of boredom and actually showed improvement in their focus and attention. They participated on a more energetic level instead of being lethargic, as noted prior to treatment. • The Use of Music-Enhanced Tools To Support Literacy Rxy = 1 This graph depicts a positive correlation. For a number of days the teacher used musicenhanced tools in her literacy program; and as the number of days per month increased so did students Reading score. The Use of Music-Enhanced Tools to Support Literacy Data Set D 98 Y Axis 87 89 92 97 96 Reading Score X Axis 10 12 15 20 94 92 90 88 1 86 0 5 10 15 20 25 Days per month Teacher Spent Using Music-Enhanced Tools to Support Literacy Brief Analysis: 1 rxy. This graph depicts a positive correlation. For a number of days the Kindergarten Teacher used music-enhanced tools in her literacy program; and as the number of days per month increased so did students Reading score. Discussion & Implications • This Action Research Project speaks to the fact that early childhood educators ought to be deliberate when it comes to integrating music as a teaching tool in their teaching practices. Music, because it is so often shared with others in singing, dancing, and playing instruments together is, by its very nature, a social experience according to Parlakian and Lerner (2010). Children can increase their learning if they are given the opportunity to make musical explorations, learn songs and engage in musical play in their early childhood settings (Niland, 2009). • The implication in this regard is for this very essential tool to be used effectively and not just be included without any relevance to the lesson being taught. Appendix A Survey Questionnaire for First Grade Teachers 1. How easy is it to get the resources you need to teach at this school? Very Easy Moderately Easy Not Easy at all 2. How much support does the administration give to teachers in this school? A lot Moderate Amount Little None 3. How much fin. support does this school give you for your professional growth? A lot Moderate Amount Little None 4. Would you use the financial resources you receive to implement using music as a teaching tool? Yes No Maybe 5. Do you use music in your classroom to enhance the learning experience of your students? Regularly Sometimes Never 6. Do you believe that using the appropriate type of music in your classroom to teach a lesson could help with getting across a lesson that you are teaching but which the students are having difficulty grasping? Yes No Maybe 7. If the answer to any of the last three questions is in the negative, please explain the reason for your answer? Appendix B Interview Questions for the Classroom Teacher I will be posing the following questions to the classroom teacher for the class that I am observing: 1. Do you use music as a motivating tool to assist with learning in your classroom? 2. What type of music do you use or would you use? 3. For which lessons do you think this would be most beneficial? 4. What time of the day do you think is best to use music to enhance the learning experience? 5. What are your personal and professional opinions on the use of music as a teaching tool? References • O’Connor-Petruso, S. (2013). Descriptive Statistics Threats to Validity. PowerPoint slides. Retrieved from Blackboard Course Documents http://bbhosted.cuny.edu/webapps/portal/ • Parlakian, R. & Lerner, C. (2010). Beyond Twinkle, Twinkle. Using Music With Infants and Toddlers. Retrieved from https://www.naeyc.org/files/yc/file/201003/ParlakianWeb0310.pdf • Hae Kyoung, K & Kemple, K.M. (2011) Is Music an Active Developmental Tool or Simply a Supplement? Early Childhood Preservice Teachers' Beliefs About Music. Retrieved from Journal of Early Childhood Teacher Education, 32 (2), 135147. • Klopper, C. & Dachs, N. (2010) The Intentional and Deliberate Provision of Music in Early Childhood Settings in NSW Australia.