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EVIDENCE PIECE ONE

Action Research Project


Rationale:

Action research is a significant natural cycle in reflective teaching practices. It is not only a
method used to improve educational strategies, but also provides educators with the
opportunity to further understand their teaching aptitudes and students potential within
the classroom setting (Koshy, 2010). Educators need to have the ability to successfully
create and maintain learning environments that mesh with students individual learning
capabilities and needs, while supporting students academically. Through the continual
natural cycle of planning, acting, observing and reflecting, this leads to positive change
within the classroom setting and facilitates with frequent professional development and
improvement. Furthermore, it assists with cementing positive relationships with colleagues
and parents and allows educators to reflect upon their teaching strategies to advance their
teaching techniques and learning (Koshy, 2010).

The chosen topic of the effects of integrating music with the classroom environment, holds
significant interest in terms of personal beliefs, learning and teaching practice. Through
previous observation and experiences, music is enjoyed and relished within each grade.
During music lessons, students imagination and creativity are provoked, which in turn,
facilitates with active engagement within the lesson and the modification of student
behaviour. Music is also embedded within the curriculum, however, is rarely utilised within
the classroom setting. Music provides students with an array of developmental
opportunities, stimulates cognition and fosters learning for life-long well-being (ACARA,
2013). Therefore, the incorporation of music within the classroom, should positively affect
students academic achievement and behaviour (ACARA, 2013).

Purpose of Research and the School/classroom Context:

The purpose of the research is to explore How do varying genres of music effect students

academic achievement and behavioural choices? The school in which this action research
project will be incorporated, promotes an inclusive learning environment for all students
and is closely linked with the students, parents, staff, parish and wider community. The
action research project itself, will be integrated within a year three classroom. This
classroom has a variety of students with diverse needs. Three students have been diagnosed
with behavioural disorders, such as conduct disorder and attention deficit hyperactivity
disorder, and one students has oppositional defiant disorder. There is also two students on
the autism spectrum, and one undiagnosed student suspected to have Aspergers
Syndrome.

Question:

The exploratory research question to be explored is How do varying genres of music effect
students academic achievement and behavioural choices? Research has indicated that the
integration of background music within the classroom environment has a positive effect on
students. However, the majority of published literature regarding the incorporation of
background music within the classroom setting, only utilises complex instrumental musical
arrangements opposed from varying genres. Thus, the interests in exploring how varying
genres of music effect students academic achievement and behaviour.

Literature Review:

A variety of theories have been suggested that explain the effects of playing background
music within the classroom environment. This review however, focuses on three main
aspects which encompass positive and negative attributes. This in turn, correlate with the
essential theme of this literature review. One theory utilised throughout this review, is the
Neuroscientific Theory, focusing on the Trion Model (Leng & Shaw, 1991) and the Mozart
Effect (Ky, Rauscher & Shaw, 1993). Characteristics of Lozanovs Theory, Suggestopedia
(Lozanov, 1971) have also been incorporated, while the addition of articles and journals
concerning the Musical Distraction Theory, are yet, another facet which has been explored.
Through critically reviewing these components, we are provided with aspects of supporting
evidence in regards to the exploratory research question of How do varying genres of music

effect students academic achievement and behavioural choices?

Neuroscientific Theory

Neuroscience refers to the study of the nervous system, and focuses on the functioning of
the receptors within the brain (Oktar, 2006). The Trion Model subsequently emerged from
the Neuroscience, and suggests that brain functions and particular patterning is modified
when stimulated (Leng & Shaw, 1991). Leng & Shaw (1991) asserts that music reverberates
with the neural firing patterns of the brain, which alters the receptors and provides the
brain with stimuli. The stimuli is then collated, allowing for heightened performance on
cognitive tasks and adapted behavioural characteristics (Rnec, Wilson & Prior, 2006).
Rauscher (2002) also suggests that the interaction between music and the functioning of the
brain interlock, contributing to improved performance on cognitive tasks and motivation in
students (Rauscher, 2002). Based on the research, the integration of background music
within the classroom environment, has the potential to facilitate with students successfully
achieving their individual learning goals and modifying behaviour.

Another theory that was developed from Neuroscience, is the Mozart Effect. Ky, Rauscher &
Shaw (1993) claims that listening to Mozarts sonata, or similar complex instrumental
arrangements, have a positive effect on students mental development, spatial temporal
reasoning, mental rotation and sequential processing (Hodges, 2002). Similar to the Trion
Model, listening to the complex musical arrangements, altered the neuronal firing patterns
throughout the brain, stimulating not only the auditory cortex in the left hemisphere, but
also the motor cortex in the right hemisphere (Hodges, 2002). However, Hetland (2000)
disclaims that the neuroscientific research that supports the Mozart Effect, may have
significant educational implications (Rnec, Wilson & Prior, 2006). Although with a later
study, observed that integrating complex music within the classroom environment
improved the mood and productivity of students (Hetland, 2000). Consequently, through
creating a teaching and learning environment that incorporates complex music, can scaffold
students while learning and promote active engagement within the lesson.



Lozanovs Theory

Suggestopedia is a teaching method which focuses on combining multi-sensory modalities
to support learning and facilitate with development (Bancroft, 2004). Lozanov (1971),
suggests that the incorporation of background music within the classroom environment will
accelerate learning. This is because Suggestopedia pedagogy focuses on utilizing both the
right and left side of the brain, thus, activating both hemispheres which optimise learning
(Lozanov, 1971). Williams (1983) also promotes Suggestopedia as an effective teaching
approach, and found that the integration of visual thinking activities, multisensory learning
with the combination of music, further contribute to a students development (Williams,
1983). Evidently, teachers need to have the ability to create learning experiences that
maximize students learning and development, which according to the research, can be
achieved through incorporating music within the classroom environment.

Musical Distraction Theory

The Musical Distraction Theory emphasises the importance of incorporating background
music within the classroom setting. Various theorists believe that the inclusion of
instrumental music within the classroom will have a positive effect on students academic
performance and attitude (Furnham & Allass, 1999). Schellenberg (2005) found links
between listening to music and the improvement of spatial-temporal abilities, emotional
state and enhanced academic performance levels (Schellenberg, 2005). Hallam (2005) also
claims that background music can stimulate learning and can alter students temperament
(Hallam & Schellenberg, 2005). These theorists further validate the importance of
integrating complex instrumental musical arrangements within the classroom environment.

Summary

Three main theories have been incorporated throughout this literature review; the
Neuroscientific Theory, focusing on the Trion Model (Leng & Shaw, 1991) and the Mozart
Effect (Ky, Rauscher & Shaw, 1993), Lozanovs Theory Suggestopedia (Lozanov, 1971) and
the Musical Distraction Theory. All these theories promote the integration of background

music within the classroom environment, and suggest that by doing so, will assist with
cognitive development and the altering of students behaviour. However, the majority of
published literature regarding the incorporation of background music within the classroom
setting, only utilised complex instrumental musical arrangements opposed from varying
genres. Thus the research question of How do varying genres of music effect students
academic achievement and behavioural choices?

Methods:

A variety of relevant and appropriate methods have been selected to successfully
implement the action research project within the year three classroom. For example, to
avoid confusion, build relationships and establish routine, observations have taken place on
the same day and session time for the past five weeks (Tuesday mornings; direct instruction
and literacy rotations). When implementing the action research project, the visits will
become more frequent (Monday and Tuesday mornings), however, will remain the same
session time and activities (direct instruction and literacy rotations). Students will be
completing the identical activity both days, which will facilitate with observing any changes
on academic performance and behaviour.

Planned unstructured interviews have been another technique utilised throughout the
observation period. This has facilitated with gathering information regarding students
opinion on the integration of music within the classroom environment, and the effects
background music may of on their learning. A survey has also been incorporated to aid with
gaining insight into what genres of music students are familiar with and enjoy. Moreover,
ongoing discussions with students, teachers and parents, regarding ideas, steps and
progress, has also been an effective method used through the duration of observations.
Through doing so, it has created a supportive learning and reflective atmosphere, which in
turn, actively engages students within the project and assists with catering for the diverse
needs of the class.

As all the observations have been competed over the past five weeks, implementation of
the action research project will commence next visit. Complex instrumental musical

arrangements such as the work of Mozart, Beethoven, Bach, Chopin, Handel and Schumann,
will be playing in the background throughout the session. Observations will then be made
over the duration of the lesson, regarding students academic performance and behaviour.
Towards the end, a class discussion will begin, focusing on students thoughts concerning
the effects of the music on their performance, learning and behaviour/attitude. The same
process will then be applied over the next three visit, however, different genres of music will
be integrated within the classroom environment; pop, jazz and indie.

Ethical Considerations:

There are a variety of ethical considerations to contemplate when entering a school
environment. For example, the school, teachers and students names must be de-identified;
this will protect the research participants and ensure confidentiality is respected. The
researcher must also behave in a professional and nonintrusive manner to guarantee
smooth transitions into the field (Woolfolk & Margetts, 2007).

Implementation:

Prior to the implementation of the action research project, particular techniques were
utilised to assist with the integration of music within the year three classroom. One practice,
consisted of observing the students on the same day and session time over the allocated
period; this established routine, assisted with controlling variables, avoided confusion and
supported with building positive relationships with the class. When it came to implementing
the varying genres of music within the teaching environment, students seamlessly adapted
to the changes in the classroom setting, which in turn aided with monitoring the positive
and/or negative differences in the students academic performance and behavioural
choices.

Planned unstructured interviews had been another technique utilised throughout the
observation period prior to implementation (Appendix 1 for associating base questions).
This facilitated with gathering information regarding students opinion on the integration of

music within the classroom environment, and the effects background music may of on their
learning. A survey was also incorporated to aid with gaining insight into what genres of
music students are familiar with and enjoyed (Appendix 2 for survey template and visual
representation of results). Moreover, ongoing discussions with students, teachers and
parents, regarding ideas, steps and progress, had further been an effective technique used
through the duration of observations and the implementation process. Through doing so
created a supportive learning and reflective atmosphere, which actively engaged students
within the project and assisted with catering for the diverse needs of the class.

The implementation of the action research project, commenced following the observation
period. The first session of integration incorporated complex instrumental musical
arrangements such as the work of Mozart, Beethoven, Bach, Chopin, Handel and Schumann
within the background, over the duration of the session. Observations were made,
regarding students academic performance and behaviour. Towards the end of the lesson, a
class discussion commenced, focusing on students thoughts concerning the effects of the
music on their performance, learning and behaviour/attitude (Appendix 3 for visual
representations of students interpretations). The same process was then applied over the
next three visits, however, different genres of music were integrated within the classroom
environment; pop, jazz and indie.

The incorporation of techniques utilised throughout the duration of the implementation
process, assisted with the successful integration of varying genres of music within the
classroom environment. However, challenges and modifications did occur. The class
consisted of students with behavioural disorders, such as conduct disorder, attention deficit
hyperactivity disorder and oppositional defiant disorder. There were also two students on
the autism spectrum, and one undiagnosed student suspected to have Aspergers
Syndrome. As the school promotes an inclusive learning environment for all students and is
closely linked with the students, parents, staff, parish and wider community, it was vital to
accommodate all students participating within the action research project. Catering for the
diverse needs of students within the classroom environment was challenging, and
particular modifications were necessary to assist with the adjustment of certain students.
Modifications:


One modification utilised during the implementation process, was the use of frequent
communication. Initially, the varying genres of music were to be integrated without
previously notifying the students, however, certain pupils found it difficult to adapt to the
change in the classroom environment. Although, through communicating the action
research project to the class, using language approaches and discussing the minor changes
within the classroom setting, facilitated with not only accommodating students with
diverse needs, but also assisted with students productively adapting to the changes in
classroom, and positively engaging within the action research project.

Another adjustment that was modified from the preliminary design of the project, was the
use of volume. Originally, the varying genres of music were to be played on a continual level
over the duration of the session. Conversely, observations indicated that particular
students experienced lapse in concentration while direct instruction and explanations were
being utilised; thus, the importance of alternating the levels of volume. Each genre of music
was played throughout the sessions, although was softened to a subliminal level when
instructions and explanations were being provided, and increased when students were
required to work individually and/or in groups on set tasks. This enabled the class to feel
comfortable and supported within the schoolroom environment, while also scaffolding
students in reaching their individual learning goals.

Results:

The results of the action research project, somewhat corresponds with the initial theory
located throughout the literature. Research had indicated that the integration of complex
instrumental music within the background of the classroom environment, had a positive
effect on students academic achievement and behaviour. Within the year three class in
which the action research project was implemented, it was proven that the use of
incorporating Mozart, Beethoven, Bach, Chopin, Handel and Schumann had an encouraging
effect on students academic abilities and behaviour.

Although, the integration of pop music proved to be more effective. The popular culture

genre, not only altered morale and overall classroom atmosphere, but also greatly effected
students behaviour and productivity in a constructive manner. The other two genres
integrated, jazz and indie, further reinsured the positive effect that the integration of music
has within the classroom environment, yet, results varied between minor alterations on
behavioural choices and significant differences on academic achievement (Appendix 4 for
visual representations of all results). Nevertheless, particular limits were identified during
the process of integrating the action research project. Time constraints aside, identifying
and accumulating appropriate genres of music were restricted, due to the age and mental
capacities of the class. As genres and individual songs were chosen based on suitability, the
integration of additional genres such as Alternative, Blues, Reggae, Rock, R&B/Soul etc.
would have been unsuitable, thus, constricting the range of genres available.

The action research process is a significant natural cycle in reflective teaching practices. It is
not only a method used to improve educational strategies, but also provides educators with
the opportunity to further understand their teaching aptitudes and students potential
within the classroom setting (Koshy, 2010). The chosen topic of the effects of integrating
music with the classroom environment, held significant interest in terms of personal
beliefs, learning and teaching practice. Through previous observation, experiences and
research, music is enjoyed and relished within each grade, however, is rarely utilised within
the classroom setting. The aspiration to monitor/observe the effects of integrating varying
genres of background music within the classroom setting, was a significant component of
own learning throughout the duration of the action research project

Within the year three classroom in which the action research project was integrated, it was
confirmed that music provides an array of developmental opportunities, stimulates
cognition, fosters learning for life-long well-being and alters students behaviour.
Consideration of implications for practice were further utilised; focusing on positive and
negative effects, varying genres, age groups, abilities and gender. However, action research
is a continual natural cycle of planning, acting, observing and reflecting and through doing
so leads to positive change within the classroom setting and facilitates with frequent
professional development and improvement.


My Action Research School Experience:

Undertaking the action research project, reiterated the importance of reflective teaching
practices. The action research process is a significant natural cycle, which not only improves
educational strategies, but also provides educators with the opportunity to further
understand their teaching aptitudes and students potential within the classroom setting
(Koshy, 2010). The aspiration to monitor/observe the effects of integrating varying genres of
background music within the classroom setting, was a substantial component of own
learning throughout the duration of the project.

Particular theorists and theories, such as Neuroscientific Theory, focusing on the Trion
Model (Leng & Shaw, 1991) and the Mozart Effect (Ky, Rauscher & Shaw, 1993), Lozanovs
Theory Suggestopedia (Lozanov, 1971) and the Musical Distraction Theory, impacted greatly
on learning and the implementation process. These theories all promote the integration of
background music within the classroom environment and also provides information
regarding field testing and statistical approaches to incorporating music efficiently. No
major changes were made to the original question, however, catering for the diverse needs
of students within the classroom environment was challenging, and particular modifications
(genres, alternating volume and communication) were necessary to assist with the
adjustment of certain students within the classroom.

Within the year three classroom in which the action research project was integrated, it was
confirmed that music provides an array of developmental opportunities, stimulates
cognition, fosters learning for life-long well-being and alters students behaviour.
Consideration of implications for practice were further utilised; focusing on positive and
negative effects, varying genres, age groups, abilities and gender. However, action research
is a continual natural cycle of planning, acting, observing and reflecting and through doing
so leads to positive change within the classroom setting and facilitates with frequent
professional development and improvement.



My Personal and Academic Journey as a Pre-Service Teacher:

Throughout the duration of the Bachelor of Education course, particular aspects regarding
myself as a creative and responsive educator, have developed, grown, changed and evolved.
Amongst the threads of information, assessment pieces and inspired ways of teaching and
learning, was a tapestry abundant with knowledge eagerly waiting to be absorbed. The
journey consisted of bountiful elevating academic experiences, though, scattered between
the fissures in the pavement, also laid enriching spiritual and personnel gains. Some of
which include the willingness to learn and apply recently gained knowledge in context, the
importance of motivation and building effective cohesive relationships with peers, staff and
the wider community.

Particular theorists and theories also assisted with the journey, and revolutionised my
beliefs about teaching and learning. Hidden among copious quantities of text, rested
wisdom and knowledge opulent with philosophies. Bruner, Piaget and Vygotskys theory of
cognitive development for example, describes how children obtain, construct and process
knowledge, each with differentiating perceptions. Although somewhat conflicting, tiled the
first segment of the expedition. In the midst of the abundant torrent of theorists Gardeners
theory emerged; further impacting my learning and instilling the importance of creating
enriching learning experiences that address the multiple intelligences of all learners within
the classroom environment.








Appendix 1

Planned unstructured interviews were utilised throughout the observation period prior to
implementation. Below is a list of base questions that facilitated with gathering information
regarding students opinion on the integration of music within the classroom environment,
and the effects background music may of on their learning.

Do you enjoy and listen to music?
What types of music do you listen to?
Why do you think you are drawn to that particular genre?
Do you play any instruments?
Are you involved in any extracurricular musical programs?
What do you enjoy doing the most during music lessons and why?
Would you like if music was played during lessons?
Do you think it would be distracting having music playing while working?
How would it affect your performance, positive or negative?
Will it alter the classroom atmosphere?
Do you think your behaviour would change if music was playing in the background?



Appendix 2

A survey was incorporated to aid with gaining insight into what genres of music students
are familiar with and enjoyed. Below is a graph indicating the results of the survey.









Appendix 3

After each session a class discussion would commence, focusing on students thoughts
concerning the effects that the integration of the varying genres of background music had
on their performance, learning and behaviour/attitude. Below is a visual representation of
students responses collected over the four visits.

This graph indicates, that nineteen students believed the integration of Classical
background music within the classroom environment had a positive effect on their
behaviour, while twenty-five students thought the use of Classical music accelerated
productivity. However, ten students indicated that Classical music had a negative effect on

their behaviour and four students specified that it decreased productivity. The remaining
three graphs specify similar information, although vary in results.














Appendix 4

The results of the action research project are displayed below. Each graph indicates that the
integration of Pop music within the classroom environment has the utmost positive effect
on both students academic achievement and behaviour. Following closely, is the benefits of
incorporating classical music with the classroom setting; having an encouraging effect on
students productivity and behaviour. However, the integration of jazz music and indie
background music varied between minor alterations on behavioural choices and significant
differences on academic achievement.



The first indicates an average day within the Year Three class, in which the action research
project was integrated. It displays that sixteen students out of twenty-nine demonstrate
poor behavioural choices, while seventeen students dont complete allocated tasks to an
appropriate standard. The four consecutive graphs, accentuates the positive effects that the
integration of varying genres of background music has on a classroom setting.


































References

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