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
Statement of the Problem
Review of Related Literature
Statement of the Hypothesis
- Participants
- Instruments
- Experimental Design/Procedure
Threats to Validity: Internal and External
Results/Data Analyses/Correlations
Discussion and Implications
Appendices: Appendix A - Survey Questions/Appendix B - Interview Questions
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
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!
• 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.
• 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
• 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.
• 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
Data Set D
Y Axis
Reading Score
X Axis
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
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
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
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
5. What are your personal and professional opinions on the use of music as a
teaching tool?
• O’Connor-Petruso, S. (2013). Descriptive Statistics Threats to Validity.
PowerPoint slides. Retrieved from Blackboard Course Documents
• Parlakian, R. & Lerner, C. (2010). Beyond Twinkle, Twinkle. Using Music With
Infants and Toddlers. Retrieved from
• 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.

similar documents