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The effect of listening to music on concentration and academic performance of the student: Cross-sectional study on medical undergraduate students

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Listening to music while studying has become a usual practice in the student population. While one group of students claim it would enhance their curricular efficiency, on the other hand, some researchers deny such assumptions. The overall objective of the study was to explore the effect of music on the curricular activity of the student and whether this trend is to rule out it is beneficial to the students in their academic performances. Present study involved 200 Malaysian students representing three major ethnicities. Among them, 120 students prefer to listen to music while studying and remaining 80 were not. The study comprised of two ways of survey namely questionnaire based and experiment based. Data obtained from the responses of participants compiled in the form of graphs and charts 47% believes that music helps them to concentrate while studying. 29% claims that music would keep their mind calm, and 17% stated that it would prevent sleepiness. 78 out of 80 students said that listening to music while studying distract their concentration. Experimental data revealed higher incidence (75%) of correct answers while listening to soft music than other fast track or instrumental music. The positive finding as obtained from the study is relevant to justify the current trend of listening to music while studying as it may not pose any adverse effects on the concentration of student. In fact, it might also improve the performance of the student in their academic perspectives.
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November December 2016 RJPBCS 7(6) Page No. 1190
Research Journal of Pharmaceutical, Biological and Chemical
Sciences
The Effect of Listening to Music On Concentration and Academic Performance
of the Student: Cross-Sectional Study On Medical Undergraduate Students.
Naveen Kumar1, Mohamad Arif Wajidi2, Yong Tai Chian2, Vishroothi S2,
Swamy Ravindra S1*, and Ashwini Aithal P1.
1Department of Anatomy, Melaka Manipal Medical College (Manipal Campus), Manipal University, Karnataka, India.
2Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS) Students, Melaka Manipal Medical College, Manipal University,
Karnataka, India.
ABSTRACT
Listening to music while studying has become a usual practice in the student population. While one group of
students claim it would enhance their curricular efficiency, on the other hand, some researchers deny such
assumptions. The overall objective of the study was to explore the effect of music on the curricular activity of
the student and whether this trend is to rule out it is beneficial to the students in their academic performances.
Present study involved 200 Malaysian students representing three major ethnicities. Among them, 120 students
prefer to listen to music while studying and remaining 80 were not. The study comprised of two ways of survey
namely questionnaire based and experiment based. Data obtained from the responses of participants compiled
in the form of graphs and charts 47% believes that music helps them to concentrate while studying. 29% claims
that music would keep their mind calm, and 17% stated that it would prevent sleepiness. 78 out of 80 students
said that listening to music while studying distract their concentration. Experimental data revealed higher
incidence (75%) of correct answers while listening to soft music than other fast track or instrumental music. The
positive finding as obtained from the study is relevant to justify the current trend of listening to music while
studying as it may not pose any adverse effects on the concentration of student. In fact, it might also improve
the performance of the student in their academic perspectives.
Keywords: Music, concentration, academic, medical, Mozart effect
*Corresponding author
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INTRODUCTION
In the modern era of technology, many students listen to music while studying. This trend raises a
question on how music effects one’s concentration and performance during the study. There is a popular term
coined ‘The Mozart effect’ [1] which shows that listening to classical music such as Mozart help increase
intellectual quotient (IQ) in spatial reasoning. Rauscher et al., in 1993 hypothesized that neurons in brain fire at
a sequence that can be stimulated by specific frequencies such as Mozart music [2].
A research study done by University of Windsor, Canada to confirm the effect of listening to music
reported its positive effect on work performance. This research was done on 56 software developers from
various software companies in Canada, and its result from the narrative responses revealed the value of music
listening for positive mood change and enhanced perception on design while working [3]. The authors also
concluded that ‘the positive affect and quality-of-work were lowest with no music, while time-on-task was
longest when music was removed.' This positive correlation between music on IQ and work performance have
invoked our curiosity whether listening to music while studying is beneficial or not. This is because the ‘Mozart
effect' only shows a positive impact when a person listens to music before undergoing a test, and not listening
to it while doing a test.
Conversely, Smith and Morris, deny students best performances while listening to their preferred
music. They have done this study focusing the effects of sedative and stimulative music on performance, anxiety,
and concentration [4].
The present cross-sectional study was undertaken to analyze the effect of listening to music on
concentration level of a student. The objectives of this study were
To observe the effect of different type of music on concentration and performance of student
To understand the effect of listening to music on the concentration and performance of student
To analyze the individual perception about the role of music in concentration and performance of the
student.
MATERIALS AND METHOD
This cross-sectional study was conducted over 200 student participants. All the participants were of
Malaysian origin studying MBBS in India and comprised of 3 primary races namely, Indian, Chinese and Malay.
Study subjects age range was 17-19 years. Institutional ethical clearance was obtained before the study. The
study was conducted in two sets of surveying; questionnaire and experiment based study. The questionnaire
was self-designed but validated by expert faculties. It was distributed to all the participants with their prior
consent. All the questions were of close ended with four options to tick the responses most relevant for them.
The participants were then segregated into two groups based on their preference to listen or not to listen music
during studying. All the participants who admitted that they listen to music while studying were further
continued with the experimental study. The experimental study was designed to observe the effect of listening
to music on the concentration of student. The students were given four sets of general questions and asked to
respond to correct answer while listening to different (instrumental, soft and fast) music types. One of it was
done without any background music, which served as a control of the study. The data obtained from the
responses were compiled appropriately and presented in the form of charts and graphs.
RESULT
Out of 200 student participants, 120 students (60%) admitted that they are listening to music while
studying, whereas remaining 80 students (40%) were not involved in such practices (Figure 1)
Results of questionnaire study:
Upon asking frequency of listening to music, 52 out of 120 students (43%) responded that they would
prefer to hear to music when they feel like to listen. Whereas 36 students (30%) listen to the music occasionally,
18 students (15%) chose every time and remaining 14 students (12%) said most of the time (Figure 2). Based on
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this response, approximately 96% of the student agrees that music helps them to concentrate on studies while
remaining 4% do not agree with it.
Figure 1- Incidence profile of students listening to music while studying
Furthermore, to study how music affects the different aspect of their task, 30% of them listening to
music only when they are bored, 24% while doing house chores and 18 % while exercising. The rest of them
are listening to music on other unspecified activity.
Figure 1: Duration of listening to music while studying
From the responses of the reason to listen to music while studying, the majority of (56 out of 120)
students (47%) believes that music helps them to pay attention while studying. 35 students (29%) said that it
keeps their mind calm, 20 students (17%) stated that it would prevent sleepiness and remaining 9 (7%) students
opined that listening to music shall block any external interference like noises, etc (Figure 3).
120
80
0
20
40
60
80
100
120
140
Listening to music Not listening to music
Number of students
14
18
36
52
010 20 30 40 50 60
Most of the time
Every time
Some time
Depend upon the mood
Number of students
Duration
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Figure 3: Reason for listening to music while studying as chosen by the students
The group of students who do not listen to music was asked for the reason for not preferred. Out of
80 students, 78 of them (97.5%) responded as listening to music while studying would distract their
concentration (Figure 4).
Figure 4: Reason for the students who do not listen to music while studying
The leading type of music preferred to listen while studying was attributed to pop song (82%) followed
by instrumental (70%), classical music (43%), rock music (36%) and heavy metal (14%) music (Figure 5).
Figure 5: Type of music the student listens to while studying
9
20
35
56
010 20 30 40 50 60
Blocks external interferances
Prevents sleepiness
Keeps mind calm
Helps to concentrate
Number of students
Reasons to listening ot music
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Experiment based study:
It has been noted that (Figure 6), students those who have a habit of listening to various music while
studying could not score well without music (score 31%). A Higher percentage of correct answers were obtained
by the students while they are listening to soft music (75%) which was followed by instrumental (67%) and fast
track music (54%).
Figure 2: The effect of different types of music on concentration of student
DISCUSSION
Listening to music while studying is a common occurrence among the student population. Different
opinions have been put forward by various researchers in this aspect. While many studies are favouring the
hypothesis that, background music promotes the cognitive performance of the students, few studies
emphasized impaired performance by the students by listening to music while engaged in complex cognitive
tasks. The influence of music on cognitive performance has also linked to personality types. The pop music, in
particular, serves as a distractor in the cognitive performance of both introverts and extroverts [5].
The results of present study show that the students have a positive perception towards music while
studying. This real insight is perhaps due to the current trend in the student population where most of them
enjoy listening to music. Apparently, the students do not listen to music all the time while they are studying. The
majority of them only listen to it when they are in the right frame of mind. Only a small group of student listen
to it most of the time. The psychological basis for this attitude could be regarded to the music as an alternative
to keep them motivated. Music is also considered as a positive mood changer as it exerts a positive perc eption
of the work done. The elevation of positive mood by music inevitably improves the concentration of student
while studying [6].
Emeka Anyanwu reported the positive relationship recognized between background music and learning
from the experimental tool used in dissection laboratory. The author concludes in the report that, background
music shall reduce the level of stress in the students as an evident of significantly higher scores in the overall
examination under the influence of background music [7]. Effect of background music proven to be effective in
reducing the number of teacher prompts needed for academically weak students in the curricular activities [8].
Upon assessing the type of music that works best in improving the concentration of participants of the
present study, 75% of them seemed to have a better concentration with slow music. The lowest incidence was
attributed to the task with no music, as only 31% of them were able to answer the entire question correctly. As
the music become faster and louder, the attentiveness of student started to diminish. This finding seems to
suggest two possibilities: either student enjoys listening to pleasant or soft music during an ongoing task to
31%
67%
75%
54%
0
0.1
0.2
0.3
0.4
0.5
0.6
0.7
0.8
No music Instrumental
music
Soft music Fast music
Score of correct answers
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enhance the concentration or, as the music becomes louder and faster it naturally becomes a noise rather than
music. This noise interferes with the ability of the student to perform a particular set of question that eventually
might decrease their concentration.
Similar studies carried out to compare the attitude of medical and dental students with other general
adolescent population found no significant difference [9-11) as many adolescents too prefer music as the most
preferred leisure time activity [12] and also the most preferred way of spending time indoors [13].
CONCLUSION
Music could help the student to concentrate while studying to the extent when they prefer to listen to
music. This positive finding is relevant to justify the current trend of listening to music while studying as it does
not pose any adverse effects on the concentration of student. In fact, it might also improve performance in their
academics. Similarly, individual preferences of particular types of music seem to play a significant role in helping
student to concentrate.
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[1] Donna L, Thomas A. The Mozart Effect; Closer Look.(Internet) UIUC Spring 2000 Available :
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[2] Rauscher FH, Shaw GL, Ky KN. Music and Spatial Task performance. Nature 1993;365:611
[3] Dolegu AS. The Impact of Listening to Music on Cognitive performance Inquiries Journal/Student
Pulse. 2013;5(09).
[4] Smith CA, Morris LW.. Differential effects of stimulative and sedative music anxiety, concentration, and
performance. Psychological Reports 1977; 41, 1047-1053
[5] Furnham A, Bradley A.. Music while you work: The differential distraction of background music on the
cognitive test performance of introverts and extraverts. Applied Cognitive Psychology 1997; 11(5), 445-
455.
[6] Lesiuk T. The effect of music listening on work performance. Psychol Music 2005; 33: 173191.
[7] Emeka G. Anyanwu Background music in the dissection laboratory: impact on stress associated with
the dissection experience Adv Physiol Educ 2015;39: 96101.
[8] Cluphf D, MacDonald J. Effects of classical background music on the on-task behavior of elementary
students during transition periods: a pilot study. Illinois Schools J 2003;82: 14 27,
[9] North AC, Hargreaves DJ. The importance of music to adolescents. Br J Educ Psychol 2000;70: 255272.
[10] Tarrant M. Adolescent peer groups and social identity. Social Dev 2002;11: 110 123.
[11] Wass H, Raup JL, Cerullo K, Martek LG, Minglone LA, Sperring AM. Adolescents interest in and views of
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A knowledge of adolescents' leisure time activities and their interests are important for understanding the adolescents' social world and their individual needs. The aim of the study is to measure the interest and participation in various leisure activities and to find the correlation between interest and participation. The study also aimed to find whether a gender difference exists in leisure time pursuits. The subjects in the study were 211 school-going adolescents from an urban disadvantaged area of Dublin, Ireland. The results revealed a high correlation between participation and interest in leisure pursuits and a considerable difference between the sexes.
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The current study looked at the distracting effects of ‘pop music’ on introverts' and extraverts' performance on various cognitive tasks. It was predicted that there would be a main effect for music and an interaction effect with introverts performing less well in the presence of music than extraverts. Ten introverts and ten extraverts were given two tests (a memory test with immediate and delayed recall and a reading comprehension test), which were completed, either while being exposed to pop music, or in silence. The results showed that there was a detrimental effect on immediate recall on the memory test for both groups when music was played, and two of the three interactions were significant. After a 6-minute interval the introverts who had memorized the objects in the presence of the pop music had a significantly lower recall than the extraverts in the same condition and the introverts who had observed them in silence. The introverts who completed a reading comprehension task when music was being played also performed significantly less well than these two groups. These findings have implications for the study habits of introverts when needing to retain or process complex information. © 1997 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
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The current study looked at the distracting effects of ‘pop music’ on introverts' and extraverts' performance on various cognitive tasks. It was predicted that there would be a main effect for music and an interaction effect with introverts performing less well in the presence of music than extraverts. Ten introverts and ten extraverts were given two tests (a memory test with immediate and delayed recall and a reading comprehension test), which were completed, either while being exposed to pop music, or in silence. The results showed that there was a detrimental effect on immediate recall on the memory test for both groups when music was played, and two of the three interactions were significant. After a 6-minute interval the introverts who had memorized the objects in the presence of the pop music had a significantly lower recall than the extraverts in the same condition and the introverts who had observed them in silence. The introverts who completed a reading comprehension task when music was being played also performed significantly less well than these two groups. These findings have implications for the study habits of introverts when needing to retain or process complex information. © 1997 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
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