Teaching Personality Theories Using Popular Music

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Previously, psychology instructors have used popular music to illustrate psychological concepts in the classroom. In this study, students enrolled in a personality theories class heard 13 popular songs that demonstrated various concepts. Students then selected and analyzed their own songs that contained elements of personality theories. Test grades and student evaluations of the demonstration provided support for the use of this activity for teaching personality theories.

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... Psychological theories at times can be complex and abstract to comprehend their value for practical use, especially for those with minimal background knowledge of psychology. For personality theories, Leck (2006) students reported that "personality theories seem complex, incomprehensible, and lacking a basis in real-world experience" (p. 34). ...
... The four activities of the module are embedded in empirical research and promote higher order thinking skills, such as analysis, evaluation, synthesis, evaluation, and application. In the past, scholars have investigated the effectiveness of these activities (Çerkez et al., 2012;Leck, 2006;Roediger et al., 2011); however, the combination of these four activities to teach personality theories is nonexistent. Moreover, none of these activities were directed toward engaging students in higher order thinking skills. ...
... The module for the experimental group comprised four instructional activities that were active and experiential. These activities were chosenbasedon empirical evidence (e.g., Çerkez et al., 2012;Dunlosky et al., 2013;Leck, 2006;Sheen et al., 2017) which suggested that these activities not only promote experiential experiences but also support meaningful and deep learning. Each activity was accompanied by preand postactivity tasks. ...
... Discussion, in particular, can generate interest in music (Suchman, 1941) and facilitate learning in music or the world (Leck, 2006). ...
... Other scholars have taken a similar approach to the study of important consequences of listening to music. For example, scholars have studied the relationship among background variables, motives, and/or music preference and potential effects like education (Leck, 2006), music downloading (Kinnally, et al., 2008), music file-sharing (Cooper & Harrison, 2001), satellite radio adoption (Lin, 2006), MP3 satisfaction (Ferguson et al., 2007), political activism (Leung & Kier, 2008), and taking up a musical instrument (Gantz et al., 1978). However, virtually no studies have looked at the relationship among background variables, motives for listening to music, music preference, and discussion of music. ...
... The difference between information/cognitive need motivation identified in this study and information-seeking motives identified in other media research studies may have something to do with the fact that participants may not consider music to be a viable source of information about the world. It is clear that people can learn information by listening to music (e.g., Leck, 2006). However, certain people may not be aware that they are seeking information about themselves or the world by listening to music in the same way in which they might consciously ...
... define generations through the stories it tells. Music can also have strong impact on listeners' beliefs and attitudes (Leck, 2006). ...
... Music has been linked successfully to teaching in sociology (Elterman, 1983;Walczak & Reuter, 1994) and to psychology, especially in relation to topics such as abnormal behavior (Potkay, 1982), adolescent development (Napoletano, 1988), personal adjustment (Hughes, 1984), and personality theory (Leck, 2006). Music and other art forms have been identified as very popular methods for teaching family therapy theory (May, 2004). ...
... Popular songs have been used as a supplement or alternative to lectures to teach several topics in the psychological fields (e.g., Hughes 1984;Napoletano 1988;Potkay 1982). For example, Leck (2006) concluded lectures on personality theories by playing and discussing relevant songs (e.g., Stevie Wonder's Superstition [1972/2000 was played after an operant learning lecture to explore the concept of superstitious behavior). Six homework assignments required students to identify additional songs addressing various course concepts. ...
... Others (e.g., Walczak and Reuter 1994) have instead used classroom discussions as the point of contact with interpretation after students listened to the selected song and read its lyrics. Although discussions based on song lyrics have centered on concepts (e.g., Daehler and Miller 2004;Leck 2006;Walczak & Reuter), a discussion-based approach could be adopted to teach the verbal behaviors taxonomy as it relates to lyrical interpretations. Students should be cautioned not to seek preexisting lyrical interpretations, for fear of hampering the in-class analytic process. ...
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Learning Skinner’s (1957) verbal behavior taxonomy requires extensive study and practice. Thus, novel classroom exercises might serve this goal. The present manuscript describes a classroom exercise in which two students analyzed Lady Gaga’s song Applause in terms of its metaphorical arrangements. Through the exercise, students identified various verbal operants and their subtypes, including those seldom researched by the behavioral community (see Sautter and LeBlanc 2006, The Analysis of Verbal Behavior, 22, 35–48), which helped them conclude that Lady Gaga’s Applause is comprised of two themes: the artist taking control, and the artist-as-art.
... . Other instructors have discussed using music and poetry as well. Several instructors in the social sciences have reported playing music and music videos in a wide range of courses (Daehler & Miller, 2004;Leck, 2006;Deluga, Personal Communication, July 12, 2007;Morrison, Personal Communication, July 11, 2007). They use music to build rapport, to orient students to key concepts and to improve intellectual access to challenging theoretical ideas. ...
... For example, Morrison uses music to mark the beginning of a class period and Deluga shows music videos before and after class solely to break the ice and build rapport with students. Other instructors use class time to display lyrics and discuss the relevant themes and have assigned students to find songs of their own that demonstrate the concepts under discussion (Leck, 2006;Weinberger & Russo, 2005;Weinrauch, 2005). Increasingly, internet options include audio files that can be used in class (e.g., The Writer's Almanac at ...
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The use of poetry and music in college courses on aging is discussed. The format can help instructors reach their students in new ways. Poetry and music can be used to engage students in material that may be emotionally charged. In addition, poetry and music can be used to help students confront stereotypes about the elderly.
... Krasnozhon (2013) uses a qualitative study to show that using Beyoncé's song "Irreplaceable" in a microeconomics course increases retention of the concept of the change in demand. Leck (2006) finds that, on average, test scores were eleven points higher in a psychology course section that used music in the learning activities as compared to one with a chalk-and-talk approach. ...
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The traditional instructional approach combined with standard textbook examples provide a disengaging learning environment for students in introductory statistics courses. This article proposes and examines an experiential music‐based single‐class‐period learning activity for an introductory statistics course. This activity teaches students how to use graphical presentation of descriptive statistics, such as bar, pie, and Pareto charts. Studies in psychology and consumer research demonstrate that the music has positive short‐term effects on spatial‐temporal reasoning and sensorial response. We use a preclass postclass control‐group design to examine how the change of the method of instruction affects learning outcome. We find that the music‐based experiential learning activity has a positive effect on the definitional knowledge acquired by male students and students with higher grade point averages.
... This paper focuses on the former method, but an example of the latter is how the Taylor Swift 2012 Grammy-winning song "Mean" was rewritten to explore when the median is more appropriate than the mean to be the measure of center for a dataset (Lesser, 2011), a topic that is of critical importance given that even most high school students did not correctly choose (with satisfactory explanation) the median to summarize a dataset for which the mean was inappropriate (Groth & Bergner, 2006). The effectiveness of songs in increasing student motivation and learning in educational science contexts has recently been increasingly researched (Crowther, 2006;Leck, 2006;McCurdy et al., 2008) and has also been discussed in mathematics and statistics (Lesser, 2000(Lesser, , 2001VanVoorhis, 2002). ...
... There is also promising evidence of effectiveness of particular modalities in other disciplines. For example, song has been found by individual faculty to be a powerful vehicle for giving students possible benefits, such as improved recall, stress reduction, and motivation in a variety of disciplines, including: biology (Crowther 2006), psychology (Leck 2006), social studies (Levy andByrd 2011), economics (McClough andHeinfeldt 2012), food safety (McCurdy, Schmiege, and Winter 2008), mathematics (Lesser 2014), political science (Soper 2010), and sociology (Walczak and Reuter 1994). Likewise, usage of cartoons also spans many disciplines, including: social sciences (Ostrom 2004), English (Davis 1997;Brunk-Chavez 2004), geography (Kleeman 2006), computer science (Srikwan and Jakobsson 2007), geology (Rule and Auge 2005), physics (Perales-Palacios and Vilchez-Gonzalez 2002), biology (Anderson and Fisher 2002), chemistry (Gonick and Criddle 2005), and mathematics (Greenwald and Nestler 2004). ...
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There has been a recent emergence of scholarship on the use of fun in the college statistics classroom, with at least 20 modalities identified. While there have been randomized experiments that suggest that fun can enhance student achievement or attitudes in statistics, these studies have generally been limited to one particular fun modality or have not been limited to the discipline of statistics. To address the efficacy of fun items in teaching statistics, a student-randomized experiment was designed to assess how specific items of fun may cause changes in statistical anxiety and learning statistics content. This experiment was conducted at two institutions of higher education with different and diverse student populations. Findings include a significant increase in correct responses to questions among students who were assigned online content with a song insert compared with those assigned content alone.
... Researchers studying university education have recommended the use of motivational strategies, such as staging field trips (Caprio, 1993), increasing student awareness of the relationship between university learning and competence in work settings (D'Aloiso, 2006), providing 'hands on' learning through authentic projects (Bradford, 2005), recommending study groups (Caprio, 1993), and providing clear feedback on student performance (Regan, 2003). To help motivate students, psychology instructors have recommended strategies such as using storytelling (Abrahamson, 2005), using popular media such as music to teach concepts (Leck, 2006), addressing students' individual interests (Berrenberg, Prosser, Buskist, Wylie, & Carkenord, 2000), and guiding students to apply learning concepts to real-life experiences (Fisher, 1996). ...
This study explored the relationship between the frequency of use of specific motivational teaching techniques and satisfaction of students with their psychology courses. One hundred and thirty-five university students rated the level of use of specific teaching techniques used in psychology courses they had completed and indicated their overall satisfaction with their psychology courses. Higher student ratings of frequency of use of motivational teaching strategies were related to more student satisfaction. The specific motivational teaching techniques that were significantly related to satisfaction spanned nine categories ranging from providing a model of interest in learning to relating course content to student interests. Among the specific motivational teaching techniques significantly related to student satisfaction were expressing interest in facilitating student learning, showing warmth and empathy, giving interesting assignments, praising students for good effort, and providing prompt, constructive feedback. The findings suggest potential value in psychology instructors testing the effects of specific motivational teaching methods.
Song has been used by faculty of many disciplines in their classrooms and, to a lesser extent, by educational developers in workshops. This paper shares and discusses a new song (about an instructor's evolving openness to alternatives to lecture-only teaching) and its novel use to open an educational development workshop. Self-reported participant data from an exploratory survey suggest that the song was most effective in reducing stress as well as in increasing motivation, morale, engagement, and connection. Practical implications and implementation considerations are discussed regarding the song as well as related creative work.
We created an activity in an upper-level personality psychology course in which interested students created an “entry” for a contest in which they chose a popular song that illustrated a course concept. The class evaluated these entries and voted on their favorites in a tournament-style bracket system; winners received extra credit. Students enjoyed the activity regardless of whether they created an entry or simply voted for their favorite entry. For example, they indicated the activity helped clarify course concepts, encouraged them to think about the concepts in novel ways, and increased their appreciation for psychology. We created final exam items that assessed knowledge relevant to each entry. Students were more likely to answer these items correctly than a randomly selected subset of items unrelated to the entries. This activity could be adapted for other courses both within and outside of psychology.
Mathematical lyrics are song lyrics connected to, or inspired by, mathematics or statistics. This paper explores various types of mathematical lyrics and their roles in mathematics education. In particular, the paper contains many examples of my own lyrics as well as an extensive bibliography of lyrics composed by others. It also provides resources and strategies for creating such lyrics and for using them in an educational setting.
This column is designed to underscore relationally based creative teaching practices used by counselor educators in the classroom. Our intention is to provide examples of novel, innovative ways for counselor educators and students to deepen their learning while collaborating toward a spirit of connection and cooperation. If you have implemented a creative teaching method or if you have adapted an existing method that you would like to share with readers, please follow submission guidelines in the author information packet available at to navigate ethical dilemmas is important in counseling students' training. According to the Council for the Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (2009 standards, counseling students must receive ethics education. A common goal for counselor educators is to assist students in translating ethical theory into practice. One method traditionally used within counselor education is case examples. A creative way to apply case examples to ethics education is adapting well-known fairy tales into ethical dilemmas. We adapted six fairy tales to address typical ethical and legal dilemmas counseling students may face once in practice. Following each case example is a brief analysis, including corresponding ethical standards from the American Counseling Association Code of Ethics,viewed from a relational-cultural perspective.
11 popular songs were evaluated by 14 students enrolled in a section of adolescent psychology. Songs were selected for their potential to illustrate psychological concepts, such as, identity crisis, psychotic behavior, and personal fable. After lecture on a particular topic, a song relevant to that topic was played and discussed. Lyrics that illustrated certain concepts were identified. Students evaluated each song for its effectiveness in aiding their understanding of concepts. End-of-semester evaluations indicated increased scores on measures of critical thinking and comprehension of subject matter, which would suggest continued use of songs is appropriate.
Zombie eaters [Recorded by Faith No More]. On The real thing
  • M Bordin
  • R Bottum
  • B Gould
  • J Martin
  • M Patton
I'm eighteen [Recorded by Alice Cooper]. On Greatest hits
  • A Cooper
  • M Bruce
  • G Buxton
  • D Dunaway
  • N Smith
Selfesteem [Recorded by The Offspring
  • B Holland
  • K Wasserman
  • G Kriesel
  • R Welty
How soon is now [Recorded by The Smiths]. On Singles
  • S Morrissey
  • J Marr
Miracle man [Recorded by O. Osbourne]. On No rest for the wicked [CD]
  • O Osbourne
  • Z Wylde
  • B Daisley
Mr. self-destruct [Recorded by Nine Inch Nails]. On The downward spiral [CD]
  • T Reznor
When I grow up [Recorded by The Beach Boys]. On Sounds of summer: The very best of the Beach Boys
  • B Wilson
The stranger. On Greatest hits volumes 1-2 [CD]
  • B Joel
Free will [Recorded by Rush]. On Chronicles [CD]
  • G Lee
  • A Lifeson
  • N Peart
Mother [Recorded by Pink Floyd]. On The wall [CD]
  • D Gilmour
  • R Waters
The unforgiven [Recorded by Metallica]. On Metallica [CD]
  • J Hetfield
  • L Ulrich
Superstition. On The definitive collection [CD]
  • S Wonder