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Other types of music have been found to result to impaired performance suggesting that not all types of music has a positive effect on the performance of tasks. In assessment of a reading test, Fogelson (1973) found out that performance of 8th graders was affected negatively by the playing of instrumental music from the version of Mantovanis show tunes. The music was especially detrimental to high achieving students compared to their lower achieving counterparts. Another study by Kiger (1989) found similar results indicating that the type of music influenced the performance of students. In the study, Kiger in his study of 15 year old found out that they scored lower in reading comprehension in Japan language, when the background music was high on information load than when the music was low on information load or when their was no music.
Other studies aimed at determining the effect of different types of background music on tasks that required memory use. Hendelson et al (1945) for instance sought to determine the effect of music in a test taking exercise in groups listening to opera, folk, symphonic music and rock and the researcher found out that either music had any significant effect on performance on tasks including language, spelling, mathematics and self concept ability scale.
Explanations for the effect of Music on academic outcome
In explaining her results, Hall suggested that the improvement in accuracy, which was more significant among below average students, was due to music serving as an aid to increasing concentration (Hall, 1952). Scott on the other hand in explaining the results of his study among children with emotional and behavioral difficulties asserted that music provides a calming effect to these children. Hallam and Price (1998) found similar results in another study of children with behavioral and emotional difficulties.
Savan (1998) suggested that introducing music of a certain frequency would improve the children’s physical coordination by lowering their blood pressure thereby resulting to a decrease in certain chemicals such as corticosteroids and adrenaline in the blood and consequently lowering the body’s metabolism and producing a calming effect. In measuring the children’s temperature, systolic and diastolic blood pressure and pulse rate during the lesson and after the lesson, Savan was able to lender support to his hypothesis.
The differences in results from various researches identifying the effects of music on different activities have been mostly unsystematic and inconclusive partly due to the fact that music can be processed in different ways (Hallam, 2001). This especially because despite evidence of general trends in response to relaxing or stimulating music, individual cognition may play a mediating role, for instance, an individual may associate some type of music with particular events or have a dislike for some genre. Still, the significant evidence on benefits of music in mediating successful learning has provided revolutionary ideas on how music can be inculcated in curriculum to play a successful role in enhancing positive academic outcomes
Hallam et al (2002) supported the assertion by Scott in a review of two studies. Hallam and his colleagues argued that earlier studies in on the effect of effects of background music were largely lacking in regard to theoretical frameworks, was frequently poorly conceptualized and mostly produced equivocal findings. The researchers identified research that showed that music that was perceived to be calming and relaxing had the most significant positive effect in regards to academic performance with music that was aggressive and unpleasant contributing to disruption of tasks and consequent poor performance (Hallam et al, 2002). Hallam et al further concluded that the studies provided evidence that, “effects of music on task performance are mediated by mood and arousal rather than affecting cognition directly (p. 110).
The explanation for the effect of background music on performance of tasks is mostly explained using the Yerkes-Dodson law. The law attempts to provide a framework within which effect of background music may be determined. The law presupposes that mood and arousal are the major determinants of the effects of music on learning. The law thus asserts that “arousal level of individual increases performance up to a certain level beyond which over-arousal leads to a deterioration in performance” (Hallam et al, 2002, p. 113). Further, the law adds that where tasks are complex or under learned, arousal levels become too great thereby affecting performance.
On the other hand, simple tasks require more arousal to maintain concentration. For this matter, stimulating music should result to increased arousal thereby improving arousal in simple tasks, while where the tasks are significantly complex, arousal may be too much leading to deterioration of performance (Hallam et al, 2002).Additionally, arousal is not only inconsistent on an individual but also depends on personality. Finally, Oaksford et al (1996) found out that positive emotions may have adverse effects on an individual’s performance in cognitive reasoning tasks.
The research proposed here attempts to establish the effect of music related to a particular subject; specifically music on different historical eras on the performance of high schools students in a world history class. In the study, students from Southern Alamaca High school will participate in a study aimed at determining the effect of historical music environment on academic performance in world history class. In the study, students will also respond to their reported levels of altruism to determine the possible effects of music of particular historical periods on their mood.
Participants of the study are High school students from Southern Alamaca High School. Sample will include all students in the classes taking World History subject will be included in the study. The sample consists of 88% white and mostly middle class. Each teacher will teach two blocks with music and one block without.
A pre-test post-test research design will be used for the study. Students will be divided in two streams; classes taught with background music environment from different historical eras and a control group of classes without any music. A pre-test post test design is chosen due to its wide use in comparative studies. The research design will assist in tracking changes in performance between the study group and the control group. The study group will be taught with background music in various historical ears. The control group will study without music. Performances before and after the periods will be tabulated and analyzed to determine whether there are shifts in performance between different groups.
Method of Data Collection
The survey instrument in the study would be designed to measure whether music background has an effect on learning and the performance of students in History subject among High school students from Southern Alamaca High school. A personal data sheet will be requested from the school indicating the performance of the students in different classes before introduction of music classes in one class and having in the other classes without music background. A personal data sheet will also be collected after introduction of the music background in one group and no music in the other group. Additionally, a survey instrument to identify mood of students will be given to the students.
It is expected that music background should have a positive impact on History learning. This is based on the fact that a music background that does not cause extreme arousal may result to improved academic performance. Consequently, it is expected that the research will have a higher number of students in the classes that have a music background reporting higher scores due to an improvement in motivation and concentration compared to their counterparts in classes taught without music background. It is also expected that students from the study group will report more positive moods compared to students from the control groups.