Using Science Songs to Enhance Learning: An Interdisciplinary Approach

Department of Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195, USA.
CBE life sciences education (Impact Factor: 1.89). 03/2012; 11(1):26-30. DOI: 10.1187/cbe.11-08-0068
Source: PubMed


Music is recognized as an effective mode of teaching young children but is rarely used in university-level science courses. This article reviews the somewhat limited evidence on whether and how content-rich music might affect college students' understanding of science and offers practical suggestions for incorporating music into courses. Aside from aiding memorization, songs may potentially improve learning by helping students feel relaxed and welcome in stressful settings, engaging students through multiple modes (verbal vs. nonverbal) and modalities (auditory vs. visual vs. kinesthetic) simultaneously, challenging students to integrate and "own" the material through the medium of song lyrics, and increasing students' time on task outside of class through enjoyable listening or songwriting assignments. Students may produce content-rich songs of good quality if given sufficient assistance and encouragement by instructors and peers. The challenges ahead include 1) defining the circumstances in which music is most likely to promote learning and 2) developing rubrics for evaluating the quality of songs.

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    • "Crowther[2]confirms this by stating that songs are organizational mnemonic devices. Results from this study support previous research that song composition appeals to our college students as it engages them through multiple modes (verbal vs nonverbal) and modalities namely auditory, kinesthetic and visual learning styles[2]. "
    Preview · Article · Oct 2015
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    • "A study into using original curriculum based songs for middle school students in social studies, math and Spanish proved that the average scores were consistently higher for the students who used the songs to learn, especially in social studies (music / song group -80.29%, control group -60.84%) (Scro, 2006). Teachers who use original song lyrics in their classrooms report successful results in a variety of subjects and grade levels (Baker, 2011; Bintz, 2010; Butler & Newman, 2008; Ciecierski & Bintz, 2012; G. Crowther, 2011; Estevez, 2014; Fagan, 2007; Kimmel, 1998; Last, 2009; Scro, 2006). At the tertiary level in Canada, the Department of Mining Engineering at the University of British Columbia has used songs for seventeen years to teach a variety of mining related subjects. "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: While many national curricula emphasize the importance of the arts in education, and using song is a popular method to teach a second language, song is not commonly used in the general classroom as a teaching tool. Several possible reasons for this are teachers’ lack of confidence in their own musical capabilities and the scarcity of available materials, but more importantly, their lack of training and expertise in the song-writing process. This paper aims to provide useful advice and methods for educators by presenting a literature review on the benefits of using song to learn, and describing one model for creating songs for the classroom, drawn from over two decades of experience.
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    • "Long-term retention is enhanced, with some students able to sing their subject songs flawlessly more than a decade after first learning them (Officer, personal email). Multiple studies report benefits of singing in enhanced retention of materials (Butler & Newman, 2008; Pindale, 2013), improved student attitudes and socialisation in the classroom (Brouillette, 2009; Hallam, 2010), learning (Crowther, 2011; Moreno et al., 2011), and in brain development (Rauscher et al., 1997; Schellenberg, 2008). Song is already widely used by language teachers around the world (Alipur, 2012; Ara, 2009; Bista, 2010; Engh, 2013; Iwasaki, 2013; Ludke, 2013; Millington, 2011; Setia et al., 2012; Shen, 2009; Tse, 2015; Yang, 2011). "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Teaching is always a challenging profession, and one in which teachers are constantly looking for ways to improve their teaching methods. In this paper I will argue that the use of song in the classroom can provide both an enhanced learning experience for the students and improved learning outcomes. Why use song to enhance learning? Music is the soundtrack of our students‟ lives, and is virtually omnipresent in today‟s culture. Multiple studies show that music instruction has positive benefits, enhances spatial & arithmetic skills, and raises student achievement and retention. Singing is a multi-modal activity, positively affecting brain development and neural processing. It provides an enjoyable, low-stress learning method in the classroom. Young students in particular find memorization is improved through repetition and constant retrieval, as when singing songs over a period of time. ESL/EFL/TESOL language teachers frequently use songs, while the use of songs for bilingual or Content and Language Integrated Learning, where curriculum content is taught in the second language, is expanding worldwide. However, many educators point out the lack of good teaching materials, including songs, which hinders the use of song in the classroom, whether it be ESL, CLIL, or general academics. One solution to the problem is creating multimedia presentations of songs, enabling teachers who are not musicians to teach curriculum-based songs without concern about their musical abilities. Integrating relevant visuals with audio also improves retention, as well as student engagement and motivation. The research shows that using song improves learning and retention, and is a valuable teaching tool for both general and language teachers. This paper examines the current literature about the use of song in the school classroom and documents the creative process of writing curriculum-based songs for middle school.
    Full-text · Conference Paper · Feb 2015
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