Persuading That Listening to Music Improves Term Paper

Pages: 4 (1603 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: ≈ 6  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Music

Persuading that listening to music improves the academic performance/Scores of 7th to Sounding Out the Mozart Effect:

Music and Academic Performance

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According to Ancient Greek philosophy, studying music had beneficial effects not just on the arts, but on the human soul itself. (Costa-Giomi 2004, 139) As Western educational theory has shifted away from this line of thought, music has become more of an afterthought in education than a focal point. Supporters of music and the arts in education have been seeking scientific proof for that which they have known instinctively for ages -- that music has a positive effect on the overall educational experiences of students. This search has helped raise interest in both exposing children to music as part of the educational process and specific musical instruction. Throughout the 1990s, the concept of the "Mozart Effect," as defined by Rauscher et al. (1993) gained popularity in educational studies, and the original concept has been expanded to explain a wider variety of positive effects on cognitive abilities due to musical exposure. However, results showing that music improves the academic performance of students have also been widely disputed, and some educational theorists have expressed that attempting to show this link is actually detrimental to the position of arts in education. Despite the controversy, there is a great deal of empirical evidence that music does have a positive effect on academic performance and test scores of students, including boosting performance on spatial-temporal reasoning tests, on verbal memory tests, and in overall academic achievement.

TOPIC: Term Paper on Persuading That Listening to Music Improves the Assignment

The original Mozart Effect research findings specifically identified the temporary enhancement of spatial reasoning abilities after listening to a piece of music written by Mozart, and many further studies have focused on the effects of music on this same ability. (Rauscher et al. 1993; Geake 2003, 405) According to James S. Catterall (1998), a professor of Education at the Graduate School of Education & Information Studies at University of California, The studies on the Mozart Effect conducted at the University of California at Irvine was performed over several years and has also been repeated by other studies with similar results. Studies in this area "have shown remarkable effects of training in music on spatial-temporal reasoning." (Catterall 1998, 8) Catterall additionally describes the long-term study conducted in 1997 as precisely controlled and "with more elaborate protections than we often see in education studies," (1998, 8) which helps identify the results as reliable, perhaps moreso than less precisely conducted studies that have shown results that do not support the Mozart Effect hypothesis. Interestingly, the benefits of music on spatial-temporal reasoning appears to be both scientifically supported and not limited to human brain functioning. In a study conducted at the Department of Psychology at the University of Wisconsin, the Mozart Effect was tested on rats by Rauscher et al. (1998). Rats were exposed in utero and for two months after birth to one of four auditory stimuli: "complex" music, or the Mozart Sonata k.448, minimalist music, white noise, or silence. By the third day of testing, the rats exposed to Mozart completed a maze faster and with less errors than the rats exposed to of the other auditory stimuli, and by the fifth day of the study, the difference was even more pronounced. These findings were interpreted to mean that complex music such as Mozart does improve spatial-temporal learning in rats, which is similar to the results found in humans and further reinforces the validity of the Mozart Effect. A further study on the Mozart Effect was conducted by Vesna K. Ivanov (University of Melbourne) and John G. Geake (Oxford Brookes University) in 2003. This study was conducted differently than previous research on the Mozart Effect because it was conducted in a classroom, which is a natural setting, while previous studies were conducted in very controlled laboratory environments. The difference between testing the Mozart Effect in an actual classroom as opposed to a laboratory (with unnatural silence) is because this new setting can identify the actual benefits of incorporating music into the educational process, rather than simply identifying the potential benefits of music in education. The subject group of this study was specifically upper-primary school-aged children. This study did show a positive correlation between listening to music by Mozart (as well as Bach) and improvements on Paper Folding Task tests. It has been argued that background music would be distracting to students in a classroom setting. However, Geake and Ivanov suggest that perhaps one of the reasons that this study, as well as previous research, shows a positive effect of background music on cognitive task performance is because "classroom conditions are replete with background noise," and perhaps the music brings cohesion to the already existing background noise, therefore facilitating the task performance. (Geake & Ivanov 2003, 411)

In addition to having positive effects on spatial-temporal task ability, music has also been shown by researchers to have a positive effect on verbal memory tests. According to a study conducted at the Chinese University of Hong Kong on students ages six to fifteen, music training and exposure improves verbal memory. (Ho, Cheung & Chan 2003) The results of this study show that children with musical training leads to significantly better verbal memories in comparison to children that do not play an instrument, and these benefits are traceable even if the child quits taking lessons. This could have a specifically beneficial advantage to students' verbal SAT scores. The suggested reason for why music may have this affect on verbal memory is because "music training systematically affects memory processing in accordance with possible neuroanatomical modifications in the left temporal lobe." (Ho, Cheung & Chan 2003, 439) It is interesting to note that while music was found to have a significant positive effect on verbal memory, there was not a significant difference between the visual memory skills of musical and nonmusical students. The researchers also note that the findings of their study are not specific to Chinese or Asian student populations, because similar verbal memory findings have resulted from studies in Canada as well, where young adults with musical training showed significantly higher verbal recall skills than nonmusicians. (Ho, Cheung & Chan 2003)

Music education field studies regularly have results that show academic benefits related to music exposure and musical training, including (but not limited to) reading skills, cognitive flexibility, speech skills, motivation, and reduced attention-deficit disorders. (Caterall 1998, 8) Additionally, neuroscientific studies have regularly shown that interactions between brain physiology and behavior support the hypothesis that training in the arts, including musical training, helps "condition neurological functions that would have demonstratable pay-offs in academic learning." (Caterall 1998, 8) A study based on a survey by the U.S. Department of Education shows that there is a strong correlation between involvement in the performing arts, including music, during Middle School and High School and the students' achievement and persistence, as well as attitudes toward community, immediately and long-term. (Catterall 1998) A study conducted by Eugenia Costa-Giomi (2004) of the University of Texas at Austin found that three years of piano instruction had a positive effect on children's self-esteem and on school grades in some subject areas. Studies on the relationship of music instruction and education shows that music does have a positive effect on academic performance. For example, students who take music classes have often ben shown to have higher scores on math and language tests, and children who are exposed to a "musically enriched environment" during early childhood are likely to have higher language achievement throughout elementary school. (Eugenia Costa-Giomi 2004) Music has been shown to have a positive influence on self-esteem, and music therapy is often used in clinical treatments with patients having low self-esteem. "Some studies showed the existence of positive correlations between participation in choir, band, or formal music instruction and self-esteem... those involved… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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