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An exploration of the use of jazz and classical music to supportfocus, creativity

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AN EXPLORATION OF THE USE OF JAZZ AND CLASSICAL MUSIC
TO SUPPORT FOCUS, CREATIVITY & QUALITY OF WRITING IN FIRST GRADE
by
ROBERTA J. BLAND
This is a research paper submitted for ELCL629/630, Research in Education I & II, in partial
fulfillment of the requirements for the Masters Degree in Education in Curriculum and Learning
at William Paterson University. Spring and Fall 2010
UMI Number: 1488464
All rights reserved
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a note will indicate the deletion.
UMI 1488464
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WILLIAM PATERSON UNIVERSITY OF NEW JERSEY
AN EXPLORATION OF THE USE OF JAZZ AND CLASSICAL MUSIC
TO SUPPORT FOCUS, CREATIVITY & QUALITY OF WRITING IN FIRST GRADE
By
Roberta J. Bland
A Master’s Thesis Submitted to the Faculty of
William Paterson University of New Jersey
In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements
for the Degree of Master of Education
(January 2011)
College/School: College of Education
Thesis Supervisor:
Program: Curriculum & Learning
______________________________
Concentration: Early Childhood
Graduate Program Coordinator:
_____________________________
Dr. Janis Strasser
Copyright © 2010 by Roberta J. Bland. All rights reserved.
Abstract
AN EXPLORATION OF THE USE OF JAZZ AND CLASSICAL MUSIC
TO SUPPORT FOCUS, CREATIVITY & QUALITY OF WRITING IN FIRST GRADE
by
Roberta J. Bland
Thesis Advisor: Dr. Janis Strasser
This exploration of the use of jazz and classical music examined the effects such music
has on children’s ability to focus on their writing and the quality and creativity of their writing.
The study took place in one first grade classroom in a diverse suburban community for a period
of approximately three weeks.
Data were collected while the children engaged in Writing Workshop without music,
with classical music, and with jazz music. Daily observation sheets, scoring rubrics for children’s
writing samples, child interviews and a teacher/researcher journal were used as data collection
instruments.
The results of this study showed that using classical and jazz music during writing can
make a positive difference in students’ writing. Although students’ writing scores for creativity
and quality increased most when classical music was being played, the participants reported a
preference for listening to jazz music during Writing Workshop.
ii
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
I am grateful to my family for their encouragement, love, and support. I am indebted to
them for their continuous patience and understanding during this journey. My gratitude also goes
to my professors who shared their expertise with me. I have the utmost respect for their superb
teaching ability. They were a beacon of inspiration and held my hand through every step. This
thesis would not have been possible without all of you by my side. The journey is over, but the
feelings of strength and empowerment will never be forgotten. It is an honor for me to have this
opportunity to thank all of you.
iii
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Page
List of Tables
vii
List of Figures
vii
Chapter
I.
II
III
Introduction
1
Statement of the Problem
2
Purpose of the Study
4
Definitions of Variables
5
Hypotheses
8
Review of Literature
10
Using Background Music While Learning
10
Writing Process and Writing Workshop
19
The Writing Process
24
Summary of Literature
29
Methods
33
Participants
33
Materials
33
Procedures
36
Pre-Intervention Procedures
37
Pre-Intervention Assessments
37
Intervention Procedures
38
iv
Post-Intervention Procedures
Data Collection
Chapter
IV
V
39
39
Page
Results
40
Overview
40
Analysis of Data
43
Hypothesis 1
43
Hypothesis 2
47
Hypothesis 3
50
Additional Research Question
57
Summary of Results
57
Discussion
59
Hypothesis 1
59
Hypothesis 2
61
Hypothesis 3
62
Conclusions
64
Educational Implications
65
Limitations of the Study
67
Implications for Future Research
67
Appendices
69
A. Scoring Rubric
69
B. Observation Time Sheet
70
C. Post-Study Child Interview
71
D. Graphic Organizer
72
E. Graphic Organizer (BMME)
73
v
F. Calendar
75
Chapter
Page
References
76
vi
LIST OF TABLES
Table
Page
1. Data Collection Sources
34
2. Writing Results Mean Scores for 7 Days
42
3. Writing Results of Total Mean Scores Comparisons
53
4. Post Study Child Interview Responses
55
LIST OF FIGURES
Figure
1. Quality Mean Scores of Writing Samples
44
2. Topic Focus Mean Scores of Writing Samples
48
3. Creativity Mean Scores of Writing Samples
51
vii
CHAPTER 1
Introduction
Overview
In today’s world, children are highly immersed in video games and television for longer
periods of time. When they constantly receive entertainment through computers and television,
perhaps they tend to develop a need for instant gratification. I wonder if there is a correlation
between the decrease in their listening skills and attention spans. From one year to the next, I
have noticed a decline in many children’s ability to focus in first grade. While being instructed in
school, their ability to focus and be patient seems to be less than when I began teaching. Perhaps
they are used to a rapid pace and need to be taught how to have more patience so that they
develop the ability to listen and focus. There is a possibility that incorporating music in the
classroom can serve as an aid in the increase of their listening skills and remaining focused.
Children are also innately curious; therefore the introduction of a new writing lesson may
get their attention. There must be an interesting hook and mini lesson to capture their attention. It
becomes challenging to find ways to inspire each child to take the skills you have introduced and
use them independently in writing without being distracted. Each child has his or her own
strengths and weakness. As an educator it is my responsibility to find a way to influence their
strengths and to strengthen their weaknesses as writers. The addition of background music during
writing may serve as a way of affecting their writing.
1
Statement of the Problem
At the beginning of the year, independent writing begins in my first grade class with an
allotted time of ten to fifteen minutes. The children gradually increase their independent writing
time as they build stamina to write for approximately twenty to thirty minutes. Each month there
is a new unit of study. A mini lesson is given based on the unit of study. The children choose a
topic and are given the opportunity to put their experiences on paper. They use their knowledge
and skills from instructions to accomplish their own writing piece. Some of the children will
have the ability and skills to write for the extended amounts of time, while others need additional
support or peer interaction to complete the task.
Social interaction between the children takes place during writing. The noise level
gradually increases with some students which distracts others. This interaction is normal and
helps some students to discuss ideas during the writing process. The problem is that they tend to
forget the purpose of their initial conversation. While these conversations may benefit some
learners, it can hinder the progress of others. Conversation distracts and limits some children’s
ability to concentrate and inhibits their performance. It is not easy for children to block out many
distractions that have caught their attention. It is a difficult task for some to collect their thoughts
and then put them on paper in a clear and concise way. These young students are still in the
process of learning how to verbally express themselves and now they are expected to do it in
written language.
In addition to conversations, the heating and air conditioning system, and other outside
noises, such as sirens and elevated trains add unwelcome disturbances. Children who are
2
sensitive to environmental noise pollution perhaps find it difficult to function productively.
These additional sounds can also be a constant source of stress.
Can the playing of background music while the children are writing change the
atmosphere of the classroom during writing time and help to increase the children’s
concentration? Introducing music during writing may either add to the noise or become a
background sound that helps to produce positive results. The selected pieces need to be
therapeutic music that would perhaps stimulate their creativity, calm them down, and perhaps
initiate productive conversations. The introduction of Classical and Jazz music during this time
would help determine if it has a calming and inspirational effect on the children. It may also be
helpful as an aid to motivate and enhance thinking and creativity. Soothing music is said to
reduce blood pressure and heart rate (Crncec, Wilson, & Prior 2006). The intentional use of
music in the classroom helps to establish an atmosphere for learning and enhances learning
activities (Brewer 1995). It drowns out many distractions, increases mental imagery and
stimulates creativity.
It would be interesting to see how the children react to genres of music that they possibly
are not used to hearing and how the change would affect their writing. Making a transition from
instrumental music with a slower pace to something with a faster tempo, yet still instrumental,
might bring the children to a more cheerful and energetic state. This type of music usually has
more drums and cymbals as opposed to pianos and cellos. This may or may not impede the
children’s creativity. Listening to music affects the listener emotionally. Although the music
may not have lyrics, children still react to the tempo, rhythm, and feel the melody.
3
It is important as parents or educators to make careful decisions when choosing music
for children to listen to. It is our responsibility to introduce children to different genres of music
in order to nurture their enjoyment and appreciation of the range of musical genres. When
thinking about what kinds of music to choose to accompany my students’ writing, I asked myself
the following questions: Is the music stimulating, pleasant and /or exciting to listen to? Is it
respectful of children? Soft melodious songs help to calm and relax children, while upbeat and
lively songs may boost their energy. Children are bombarded with noise and various sounds on
television and in music videos. Can we enhance first grade children’s creativity in writing by
introducing them to quality music?
Purpose of the Study
The purpose of this study is to investigate music and the effects it has on the children’s
ability to focus on their writing, and the quality, quantity, and creativity of their writing. The
district in which I am employed places an emphasis on balanced literacy. Writing is one of the
components of a balanced literacy program. The goal is to encourage the children to become
independent writers using the techniques they’ve learned as their foundation. The children are
given a specific amount of time to write quietly. This becomes a challenge because some of the
students have a difficult time staying focused or the noise level tends to increase as the minutes
pass. Classical or Jazz music will be introduced during writing to see if it will soothe and calm
the children and serve as a benefit to their writing. Classical and Jazz music will be used along
with the elimination of music to compare the differences in their writing during each scenario.
It appears to me that the lives of children have changed with the increase in stimulation
they receive on a daily basis. They have become accustomed to loud noise and constant motion
4
through television and video games. Some children complete their homework with siblings
interrupting their concentration or in after school programs that are filled with the chatter and
sounds of other children playing. In many cases, perhaps loud background noise impedes
learning and disrupts concentration. Some amount of calming background music may in fact be
helpful during the learning or writing process.
During my investigation I expected to find out whether or not music influences children’s
writing ability and if it affects their ability to stay on task. I expected to see some notable
differences in their focus and /or writing. It could be a difference of more focus on their writing
or more focus on the music. Seeing an increase in quality vs. quantity or vice versa is also a
possibility. Through the children’s writing, I expected to see how music makes a connection
between thinking, emotions, and learning.
The Research Questions
1. How does listening to music affect the quality of children’s writing?
2. How does listening to music affect the amount of time children stay focused on
independent writing?
3. How does classical music compare to jazz music in terms of the way it impacts the
children’s writing?
Definitions of Variables
Developmentally Appropriate Writing Instruction
At the beginning of the year the emphasis in writing was on drawing and labeling. The
students were able to write a minimal amount of sentences. Drawing and labeling helped the
5
children become actively involved in the writing process. The lessons were organized so that the
writing process was modeled and the children had an opportunity to express themselves on paper
with an understanding that writing has a real purpose. The children were taught how to label,
write sentences, then how to write a paragraph, add details to a paragraph, and write stories about
their illustrations. The emphasis in writing is on exposure to authors, books, concepts, and skills
that will aid in the development of their writing. Writing is very challenging in first grade
because the children are asked to think about print. They are asked questions to help them pick a
story apart and develop some understanding about writing. They are exposed to lists, stories,
letter writing and descriptive writing, various styles of several authors, poetry, fiction, and
nonfiction. Instruction and modeling are given on these various ways of writing and the children
are then asked to create a writing piece based on the lesson of the day. Small group and
individual instruction help children work on grammar and spelling, because they affect the
reading and writing ability of each child.
Differentiated Instruction
Differentiated Instruction is not “one-size-fits-all” teaching. I have to look at where the
children are and begin from there. Each child is at a different level which makes it challenging
for a teacher, but it is beneficial to the children when a teacher is able to tailor instruction to meet
individual needs.
Classrooms are becoming more diverse with a representation of students on various
academic levels, backgrounds and cultures, and frequently includes children whose first
language is not English. Having these children in class, I have to develop a support system that
encourages student engagement. The instruction has to be modified with topics that are of
6
interest to them. The results are higher levels of productivity, self-esteem, and achievement.
Learning becomes more efficient as well as more effective.
Conferring
Conferring is an informal conference that is designed to move writers along learning
pathways. I look at what the child has written then determine what he or she needs to do to
develop as a writer. Conferring helps children talk things through and get ideas out of their heads
and onto the paper. It could include guiding the children through a process or demonstrating a
technique he or she can use in writing. The purpose of conferring is different for each child.
Classical Music
Classical music is defined as music in the educated tradition that includes art song,
chamber music, opera, and symphony (Merriam-Webster 1999). Classical music composers
include Beethoven, Mozart, Brahms, and Bach. The classical period was from about 1750 to
1820 which was when many of the norms of composition, presentation, and style were
established. This was also when the piano became the predominant keyboard instrument.
Classical music is sometimes described as elevator music even though it is featured in our
everyday lives. It is used as background music for television programs, movies, and
advertisements. The possibility of it being beneficial to children’s IQ levels, their concentration,
and their ability to learn has brought classical music into the classroom. The CD: The Mozart
Effect Music for Children (Relax, Daydream, and Draw) was used for this study.
7
Jazz Music
Jazz is a genre of music characterized by improvisation, polyrhythm, and syncopation
(Merriam-Webster 1999). It originated in African American communities in the southern United
States from the influence of African and European music traditions. Jazz has incorporated music
from the nineteenth and twentieth century American popular music. The word “jazz” began as a
West Coast slang term and was first used to refer to music in Chicago in about 1915. Perhaps the
creative melodies of jazz may influence the creativity and conventions of children’s writing. The
smooth jazz CD, The Brian Barber Trio: Cool Jazz 4 Cool Kids used for this study may prove to
be beneficial to the children’s writing.
Writing Quality in First Grade
For purposes of this study quality of writing will be defined by the number of words used
in the writing piece, capital letters, punctuation, spacing, and whether or not the sentence makes
sense, verbs, adjectives, and the use of various conventions taught by the teacher (onomatopoeia,
simile, changing the font, etc.).
Writing Focus
For the purpose of this study, the focus of writing is the amount of time spent writing
independently or while staying on task.
Hypotheses
It is expected that music may have a calming effect on the children who have a difficult
time staying focused. Music may have an inspirational affect on these children as well as those
who are able to focus. Music may also increase the quality and quantity of their work.
8
Hypothesis I
It was hypothesized that listening to classical or jazz music while writing will improve
the quality of children’s writing.
Hypothesis II
It was hypothesized that listening to classical or jazz music while writing will increase
the time that children stay focused in independent writing.
Hypothesis III
It was hypothesized that classical and jazz music positively affects the quality and focus
of children’s writing.
Additional Research Question
The observations of this study brought about the following additional question:
Was there a significant difference in the way music affected the girls’ writing as opposed to
boys’ writing?
9
Chapter II
Review of Literature
The literature review takes a close look at music and achievement and writing in the
educational setting. It includes how music inspires, relaxes, and motivates children. The topics in
the review are: Using Background Music While Learning, The Writing Process, and Music and
Writing Workshop. Very few studies specifically relating to music and writing process were
found in the literature. Thus, this third topic is brief and demonstrates the need for more research
in this area.
Using Background Music While Learning
Hallam, Price, and Katsarou (2002) conducted a study exploring the effects of
background music on children in math and on a memory task. Thirty one children age 10 through
12 where part of the study. The children were randomly allocated to two groups: a music group
and a non-music group. The music for the study included mood calming music from Disney
films and other children’s music. The children were asked to assess the music as happy/sad,
calming/exciting, and like/dislike. The music that was chosen to be included in the study had to
be assessed as calming by the majority of the pupils. The number of correctly completed math
problems and accuracy rate were recorded for each child.
The results suggested that background music could enhance the speed of completing
math problems, but it did not influence greater accuracy. This supports the hypothesis that music
effects on-task-performance.
10
The children were also asked to participate in a memory task to remember a word from a
sentence. The target words were adjectives in the sentence. Thirty children, 15 boys and 15 girls,
ages 11 through 12, were randomly placed in a control group, a group listening to quiet/calming
music, and a group listening to exciting, aggressive music. The children had 10 seconds to read
each sentence. Every 10 seconds they were told to turn the page to the next sentence. The
booklets they read from were collected and they had to fill in the missing word in every sentence
in a “cued-recall” booklet.
The results showed no significant differences in the performance of boys and girls. It
showed that calming music had a positive effect on remembering words from sentences. This
suggests that appropriately selected music could be used in schools to create an optimum
learning environment. However, the author suggests approaching this with caution because it is
not known whether the calming effects would habituate and lose their power if music was used
regularly.
A study by Davidson and Powell (1986) also focused on the effects of background on ontask-performance. The purpose was to determine if easy listening of background music could be
used to increase the on-task-performance of children in a classroom and whether or not this
would enhance their academic achievement. There were 26 students, 15 boys and 11 girls, in a
fifth grade science class who were observed for forty two classes for a period of 4 months. They
were a diverse group in regard to level of ability, race, and socioeconomic status. Ten scores
were obtained for each subject during each observation. At the end of each observation, a
percentage of time-on-task was calculated for boys and girls and for the total class. The fifteen
observations were conducted without background music, the next fifteen with easy listening
music, and the last twelve without background music.
11
The results indicated that easy listening background music was effective in increasing ontask-performance of these children in elementary school. There was not a significant increase in
the on-task-performance for girls, but that may be because the on-task-performance for girls was
99% prior to the study. There were significant differences in on-task-performance among the
three periods for the boys. The author concluded that it would appear that easy-listening
background music in the classroom would be a plausible technique for increasing the amount of
time in which students are actively engaged in learning.
Savan (1999) investigated the use of certain Mozart compositions being played as
background music and the possibility of it contributing to the suppression of stress levels. The
participants were 10 boys ages 11 to 12 identified as having emotional and behavioral difficulties
and special education needs. The background music was played during ten forty minute science
lessons. The first tape provided continuous and uninterrupted sound stimulation for a 2 hour
period. Six additional tapes were used to explore if any of the structural features of Mozart
compositions were an influence to the boys. Each tape had the same composition as tape one, but
was altered in various ways including pitch, high or low fluency, etc.
The boys were video-taped in order to compare their behavior with the recordings in the
lesson prior to the science lesson and in the lesson that followed it. The observations were scored
by three teachers. They calculated their mean scores and compared them with the scores of the
lessons prior to and after the science lesson. Their blood pressure, body temperature, and pulse
rate were recorded when the lesson began, 20 minutes into the lesson, and 1 hour after the end of
the lesson. All of the tapes were played; the same measurements were made and recorded. As a
control, the process was repeated during science lessons without background music.
12
The results show an improvement in behavior and a significant drop in blood pressure,
body temperature, and pulse rate. All of the students completed the tasks, their concentration
span lasted throughout the 40 minute lessons and there was not attention seeking behavior. These
were also the results specific to the way some of the tapes that were altered. When high
frequencies were removed, there was a slight decrease in blood pressure, no decrease in pulse
rate or body temperature, the results were not statistically significant, and there was no observed
improvement in behavior.
The author concludes that the results show there are qualities in certain Mozart
compositions that evoke changes in these students. There is only a limited understanding of the
way music might affect cognition and behavior. Research is needed that takes into account the
characteristics of the students; the nature of the music; the listening environment; recent life
events of the students; metacognition; and task requirements.
Thompson, Schellenberg, and Husain (2001) conducted a study to determine whether or
not the Mozart effect is an example of enhanced performance caused by manipulation of arousal
or mood.
Twenty four undergraduate participants between the ages of 20 and 60 completed a test
of spatial abilities after listening to music or sitting in silence. They listened to 10 minutes of
Mozart or 10 minutes of Albinoni. The participants saw a demonstration of a rectangular piece of
paper being folded and cut in several different ways (PF&C). Their task was to choose the
correct outcome from five unfolded pieces of paper. They were tested individually and
completed the Profile of Mood States (POMS) (McNair, Lorr, and Droppleman, 1992), which
rates their mood and arousal. They also completed a subjective mood arousal rating on a scale of
13
1 (sad) to 7 (happy), and a 7 point scale to rate how much they enjoyed the music. The procedure
was controlled by a computer program that presented the music (Mozart and Albinoni) or
silence, administered the spatial test, and collected responses.
The results showed that the performance on the PF&C task was significantly better after
the participants listened to Mozart than after they sat in silence. When they listened to Albinoni
there was no effect of exposure to music. Those who listened to Mozart scored significantly
higher on positive mood and arousal and significantly lower on negative mood compared to
those who listened to Albinoni. This study provides evidence that the Mozart effect can be
explained by the participants’ mood and arousal level. Those who listened to Mozart performed
better on the spatial task, but also scored higher on the positive mood and arousal ratings.
The research of Cassity, Henley, and Markley (2007) looked at the improved
performance on a computer game and if it could be explained as a product of mood and arousal
by manipulating different tracks heard by the participants. The goal was to study the Mozart
Effect where the participants were expecting to perform a spatial task while music is being
played, which is what is expected in many computer games. They hypothesize that the
participants’ performance will increase when listening to music they prefer.
The participants had to have previous experience playing computer games with a
soundtrack. They wanted them to be familiar with real-time three-dimensional games. Thirty
eight participants (13 male and 25 female) were part of the study.
The game that was used was the Tony Hawk Pro Skater 3 (2002) which is highly
detailed, realistic, and features state-of-the-art 3D graphics. The score of the game is calculated
based on variety, length, complexity, and combinations of skateboarding of tricks completed by
14
the participants. Two musical selections were used for this study, one from the game’s
soundtrack and one Mozart composition.
Individually, each participant completed fourteen items on the games’ tutorial, which
took about 30 minutes and served as a preparation for the experiment. The tutorial was not set to
music. They were randomly assigned to a single session of skating while listening to the game
soundtrack (Red Hot Chili Peppers) or the Mozart sonata. Their objective was to score as high as
possible, have their scores recorded, and then repeat the skating task two more times. They were
not aware that the Mozart selection was not part of the game’s soundtrack. After the session was
completed, the participants completed a scale concerning their preferences of thirteen different
genres of music.
The results do not support the Mozart Effect. There was a slight improvement for most
participants, but the improvement was insignificant. Overall, the performance was better when
they heard music they liked. This result was more pronounced in male participants when
listening to the game’s original soundtrack. The women performed identically whether it was the
original soundtrack or the Mozart selection.
This study concludes that the Mozart Effect disappears in real world situations and the
differences that were observed seem to support the proposed arousal and mood hypothesis. The
researchers note that the Mozart Effect is controversial among researchers, educators, and
politicians, yet it still remains a popular subject.
In the Rauscher, Shaw, and Ky (1998) experiment, rats were bred while a repeated
portion of the Mozart piano sonata, Philip Glass’s Music With Changing Parts, or white noise
was being played. Throughout the gestation period, pregnant rats were exposed to this music for
15
12 hours each day. After birth, the rat pups were exposed to Mozart, Glass, or white noise for 60
days, 12 hours per day. They were weaned from their mothers and handled for 1 minute each day
so that they became accustomed to human contact. On the sixty first day, ninety rats, an equal
number of males and females, were trained in a maze with the Mozart sonata, the Glass music, or
white noise playing. The experiment was done for five days, three trials per day, and 10 minutes
of rest between each trial.
The researchers’ approach was to expose rats to the same music selections that were used
in their human experiments. They found a need to establish an animal model to investigate the
Mozart effect. They assumed the musical stimuli that are appropriate for human hearing would
be the same for rats.
The evidence showed no effect on the rats. The exposure to music was ineffective
because as newborns, rats are deaf. Rauscher et al. (1998) concluded that there was no effect
from the music being played in the maze. This was very different from other findings because
other animal studies suggest a disruption by a change in their sound environment.
The positive findings show significantly less errors on the first day of training with the
Mozart-reared rats. This suggests that this group was behaving differently from the other groups
from the beginning of the maze training. It is suggested that there are two factors that could have
produced these differences. First, the design violated the principle of random assignment to
groups and by the experimenter’s effects in the construction of the groups.
McKelvie and Low (2002) investigated the Mozart effect on school-aged children.
Experiment one used a pretest post-test design and compared the spatial IQ scores of children
16
who listened to a Mozart sonata with the scores of children who had listened to a piece of
popular dance music.
A total of 55 children (31 female, 24 male) were part of this study. They attended an
intermediate school in Wellington, New Zealand. The children were randomly divided into four
groups and were assigned to Mozart or dance music from Aqua music. They heard audiotapes for
approximately 16 minutes with a selection of a distracter (T.S. Elliot’s poems) followed by the
music. Their spatial ability was measured by the Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scale-Fourth
Edition. The participants were required to select from five choices what a piece of paper, cut and
progressively folded, would look like if it were unfolded. They were given 9 minutes to complete
the nine items. At the end of the experiment, they indicated on a scale of 1 (did not enjoy the
music at all) to 5 (enjoyed the music very much) how much they enjoyed listening to the music.
They were also asked whether they had taken music lessons before and how long because
previous research had indicated that the number of years of musical training is positively
associated with performance on spatial reasoning tasks (Rauscher et al., 1997).
The results revealed that the main effect of music was not significant. Children in the
Mozart and Aqua groups performed similarly on the pre-test and post-test. These findings are not
consistent with other replications of this study. In previous studies there was a relaxation
stimulus which served as a control procedure. In this experiment there was not any, the
researchers indicated that it should be included in a replication of the study.
McKelvie and Low (2002) repeated the study using methods that found the Mozart effect
to be ineffective even though this design incorporated relaxation stimuli. A total of 48 children
(33 female and 15 male) in a primary school in Wellington, New Zealand participated in this
17
experiment. Twenty four children were randomly assigned to the four Aqua conditions and
another twenty four were randomly assigned to the four Mozart groups.
The questionnaire and spatial ability measures were the same as those in Experiment one.
The three recordings were Mozart’s Sonata in D for Two Pianos, Debussey’s Clair de Lune, and
Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue. The last two selections were from relaxation compact discs. Four
groups listened to Mozart as their experimental stimulus and the relaxation music as a control.
Four groups listened to Aqua as their experimental stimulus and relaxation music as a control.
The findings from Experiment two were the same as the findings from Experiment one.
Mozart’s music did not enhance the performance of the children. There was stability in the
children’s spatial reasoning scores. The researchers point out that the Rauscher et al. (1993),
which are what they replicated their experiment after, did not mention what sort of relaxation
stimuli they used in their experiment. They assumed that the difference in the studies was that
their relaxation stimuli were musical versus verbal. They suggested a switch in research from the
effects of exposure to Mozart to the effects of learning and cognitive phenomena.
A study by D. Register (2001) evaluates the effects of music to enhance the pre-reading
and writing skills of twenty five children. The study was to evaluate a music curriculum designed
to teach pre-reading and writing skills.
The children were 4 and 5 years old enrolled in Early Intervention and Exceptional
Student Education programs. There were twenty five students in the experimental group and
twenty five in the control group. Each group received two 30 minute sessions every week during
the school year. There was a minimum of sixty sessions per group. The fall sessions focused on
18
writing skills while the spring sessions focused on reading skills. The children were pretested at
the beginning of the school year and post tested at the end of the school year.
The results showed that music enhanced the abilities of both groups in their abilities to
learn prewriting and reading skills. The experimental group showed significantly higher results
on the post test.
Writing Process and Writing Workshop
Writing Workshop, according to the model designed by Lucy Calkins (1994), is divided
into units of studies that are each approximately a month long. It is a teaching technique that is
designed to encourage students to write daily. It introduces first grade students to the
organization and thought process needed to create a story or to write about various topics. The
format begins with writing a piece each day, choosing one piece to revise, edit, and publish. The
goal of the instruction is to guide emergent/early fluency readers through the writing process by
modeling how to sound out words, use sight words, create awareness of punctuation, and work
with partners to discuss ideas and corrections that need to be made. The data that were analyzed
from the Seagraves, Thacker, and Young study (2005) found that first graders can and do want to
write.
The components of Writing Workshop are a mini-lesson that is usually 5 to 10 minutes,
according to Calkins (1994). The teacher presents information to the whole class. The children
are encouraged to write on their own. First grade children’s skills vary therefore each child
progresses at his or her pace. Initially, the focus is the fluency of the writing and to build
confidence in the efforts being made by the children.
19
During conferring, the teacher reviews the writing with the children individually. The
children discuss their ideas and the teacher encourages the children to make an attempt at more
challenging writing. The teacher takes note of the words a child continuously misspells, if the
child is having difficulty with punctuation, or putting thought on paper. This information can be
used for spelling words or future lessons.
Time is allotted for students to share their writing. One to two of the students are chosen
each day to share their writing with the class. The entire class is invited to share during the
“publishing party” when their chosen piece has been revised and edited. Parents are invited to the
classroom to share this experience.
Research has shown that children are capable of learning the routines and practices of the
writing process and have shown measurable gains in writing (Graves 1983) and (Calkins 1986).
Jasmine and Weiner (2007) conducted research to determine if Writing Workshop helped
first grade students become independent, confident writers Writing Workshop is an interactive
approach to teaching writing in which students learn and practice the importance of rehearsal,
drafting/revising and editing their own work (Calkins, 1986). In this study there were twelve
boys and nine girls who were 5 and 6 years old. They attended an elementary school in the
Northeastern section of the country. The study began January 26, 2004 and ended March 8,
2004. Pre-writing and post-writing surveys were administered which consisted of twelve closedended questions regarding each child’s attitude toward writing. These surveys also measured
their level of confidence. The students were also observed and a checklist was used to record
their behavior during peer revising conferences. Portfolios of the student’s writing samples were
examined. They captured the student’s growth and provided the teacher with a starting point for
20
conversations with the students during individual conferences. A rubric was used to evaluate an
independent writing piece before the intervention and one after the intervention. At the end of the
study the researcher interviewed the students by asking six open-ended questions.
Writing Workshop was held 2–3 times a week for 35–40 minutes. During this time, there
was a mini-lesson, an opportunity for the students to write, hold peer conferences and share their
work. The teacher also addressed any questions or concerns.
The results from the pre and post surveys showed a slight increase in the enjoyment of
writing. The pre-survey revealed that many students did not find writing easy. The post-survey
showed that students felt more comfortable and found writing to be easier. The rubric scores
indicated an increase in student’s comfort of adding sentences to their writing, but some students
still struggled. There was an improvement in editing techniques (capital letters and punctuation
marks), yet the standard deviation remained high, possibly an indication that some of the
student’s may not have been able to effectively revise and edit because of their limited
experience of grammar.
The conclusion was that Writing Workshop contributes to a positive writing atmosphere
and gave the students an opportunity to work with their classmates and to have individual time
with the teacher. It was noted that more improvement may have been seen if it was implemented
throughout the entire school year.
Some of the limitations of this study were that some questions may have been too
complex for the students to fully understand. They required the teacher to repeat questions before
they could answer them. Also, the study did not have a control group, which made it difficult to
21
determine if Writing Workshop was the only reason the students improved in their ability,
enjoyment, and confidence.
Seagraves, Thacher, and Young (2005) report on what three first grade teachers and their
students learned about the writing process. These teachers struggled to understand: How do
children develop writing skills? When should writing instruction begin? How should they
organize and implement a new writing program? They were traditional in the types of materials
they used. The process was not easy for them to adjust to.
The study involved the participation of 21 first grade students that attended a small midwestern school. The school consisted of 170 students and 9 teachers. The students were from
middle and low income families.
A university professor acted as a consultant and introduced the teachers to the writing
process. The professor became a participant observer in each classroom once a week from
August to May. She modeled the writing process, conferred with the students and the teachers
and made observations. The professor collected and analyzed classroom observations, writing
samples, and interviews for the teachers and the students. The students talked about their writing
samples and how they developed as writers. The teachers reflected on the organization of their
writing program, the successes and whether or not they had any concerns.
The teachers in this study discovered that they needed to look at their personal beliefs
about children’s individual needs and how children learn to write in order to have a successful
implementation of the writing program. They learned that when positive reinforcement is used,
children who usually struggle are able to write. They learned how to take one step at a time to
guide their first grade students through the writing process. The teachers began to understand
22
how the writing process extends across the curriculum, especially with reading. The teachers
were willing to take risks in order to learn a new program that gave them positive results. The
students were stimulated and developed a desire to learn. This study showed that teachers can
change their opinions about how children learn to write, if they are willing to make some
changes.
The students began to feel that they could accomplish tasks that seemed difficult in the
past. They felt capable and successful. This new writing environment gave them the confidence
to go through the process with the realization that they may struggle at times, but they could
overcome any obstacle. The students learned how to make decisions on their own during the
writing process. The results were a positive for the students as they were for the teachers.
Karske (2002) conducted a study using Writing Workshop (Fletcher & Portalupi, 2001
and Atwell, 1998) to see if the technique improved students’ writing skills and to help them write
more detailed and more effectively. She also wanted to work with the students individually to
understand their needs and weaknesses so that the writing instruction could be personalized.
The participants were two 8th grade classes; one class with 34 students (19 girls and 15
boys) and the other class with 27 students (13 girls and 14 boys). The students were randomly
selected from each class (5 girls and 5 boys).
The students wrote 1–3 times a week for 20–30 minutes. Kraske met with them
individually to confer and allowed the students to work with each other. She reviewed the
policies and procedures with the students. She made a poster that included the grades, materials
for the students and the teacher, the purpose of the workshop, requirements (teacher and
students), responses, and an example of the writing records.
23
In September, a personal narrative was written by the students which were used to
compare to their second narrative written from April to May during Writing Workshop. Kraske
also used other writing pieces, notes from conferencing with the students, peer conference sheets,
Exit Slips (students wrote any concerns they had about their narratives), Student Self-Evaluation
sheets, and a Writing Workshop Evaluation where the students were able to write their opinions
about Writing Workshop, to assess whether or not the students were making progress.
Results showed progress in the student’s writing throughout the year. The two narratives
were the main focus, but all the other pieces helped to show the progress which was made. The
data showed the steps, procedures, and effort the students put into their writing. The second
narrative included more details; the students became self-directed writers, and enjoyed writing
more than they had before the workshop.
The Writing Process
Koppelman and Imig (1995) were interested in seeing if there was a direct correlation
between music and writing. They wanted to determine the affects of jazz, classical, popular (Top
40 songs), and country music on the writings of second grade students.
The participants were 19 students from a second grade class in Charlottesville, Virginia.
There were 11 males and 8 females who were from a low socioeconomic background. Their
intellectual ability ranged from on grade level to those who were on a first grade level.
For a period of 5 weeks, there were ten sessions held on the same 2 days of the week and
at the same time. At the beginning of each session the class participated in an exercise routine.
Music was not played during this time.
24
Following the exercise, the students were given instructions: they were expected to write
for 15 minutes, no communication with other students while they were writing, raise their hand if
they needed something.
The first session was without music. During sessions two through nine, classical, jazz,
popular, or country music was played. In session ten, there was no music. At the end of each
session, the students were asked to take 5 minutes and quickly illustrate their writing.
When all ten sessions were completed, each writing piece was analyzed for tone,
consistency and the number of words. Tone was defined as positive, negative, or ambivalent.
Consistency was to include three or more sentences on the same general topic. If the students
writing had less than three sentences, all of the sentences had to be consistent.
The result for the count of words with no music was 36.5 words and 45.6 words with
classical music. There were no significant findings for the other music. For consistency, without
music, out of 31 writing samples, eight were considered inconsistent. When comparing the four
types of music to the no music condition, jazz and the top 40 music were statistically significant.
Twelve were considered inconsistent out of the 32 writing samples when the top 40 music
selections were played. There were no significant findings with consistency when country and
classical music was played. In reference to tone, when no music was played there were three
ambivalent student writings out of the 31 samples. When comparing the four types of music to
playing no music at all, jazz was statistically significant. The students wrote eight ambivalent
pieces while listening to jazz.
These results indicate that when children’s writings are analyzed based on number of
words, consistency, and tone, jazz and classical music have a significant positive effect. The
25
children were familiar with the top 40 music and began to dance and sing, which may have led to
the negative effect when it was used as background music.
The unexpected death of the students’ teacher more than likely affected their writing.
Five writing sessions were completed prior to her death and the final five after her death. The
students were experiencing a difficult time which could be seen in their lack of motivation and a
smaller number of words in their writing. They also expressed their feeling about the loss of their
teacher in their writing.
The purpose of this study (McKnight, (1998) was to determine if listening to slow tempo
classical music would have an effect on children’s on task performance during independent
writing. The 24 participants were in first grade in a public school located in the Bronx, New
York. Their ages ranged from 5 to 7 years old. There were 7 males and 17 females. They ranged
from below level to above level in their intellectual ability. All of the participants were from a
low socioeconomic background.
In order to implement the independent writing components, the mini lesson, independent
writing, and sharing, the first grade teachers received extensive training. They found independent
writing to be the most difficult because of the high noise level, the short attention span of the
students, and a large percentage of the students calling out for assistance. These concerns led to
several recommendations with playing music being one of them. The teachers decided to see
whether or not background music would be beneficial to the students and serve as a means of
dealing with the concerns mentioned above.
During the 2 week study, there were ten individual independent writing sessions. They
were held on 5 consecutive days of each week during the same time each day. Each session was
26
20 minutes long. During independent writing there was either classical music playing or no
music. The children were instructed to continue to write until either the music or the timer
stopped. Week one was without music and week two was with music.
Most of the children were emergent or beginning early emergent writers. The emergent
writers used illustrations, letters, and/or scribbles. The beginning early writers wrote single
words or some short phrases.
The researcher observed the children and took notes about their behavior while she
listened to the noise level during independent writing. Each child was able to earn four points
each day as long as they displayed these on-task behaviors: handed in a writing piece at the end
of independent writing, staying seated, no bathroom breaks during independent writing, talked
about writing related issues or work quality. Each week a child could earn up to 20 points.
The results show the children earning 304 points during the first week and 341
points the second week. This shows a 7.7% increase in staying on task. The researcher believes
that the increase was small because there was only one observer; there was a limited amount of
time and because of the children’s writing ability. The results led her to believe that she may
have found a greater increase in the children’s on-task behavior if the project were implemented
with early fluency writers. She also noticed a decrease in the classroom noise level. Coker,
(2006) conducted a study that examined the predictors of early writing in low-income, urban
students. The author looked at the descriptive writing growth of students at the end of first grade
and on the growth of descriptive writing from first through third grade. The predictors were:
reading skills (phonemic awareness and letter-word identification), oral vocabulary, and the
27
student’s background, the classroom environment, the teacher, and the instructional method used
in the first grade classroom.
Coker hypothesized that writing is complex and requires multiple factors that
contribute to its development; therefore, it depends on the combined impact of the predictors
mentioned above, but it is not limited to them.
The participants were identified as 52% African American, 29% Hispanic, and 19%
either White or Asian. At the beginning of the school year, 704 first grade students were
assessed to determine their proficiency in phoneme segmentation, oral vocabulary, letter-word
knowledge, and decoding skills. In the spring, writing data was gathered from 575 English
Language Learners. In the following year, writing data was collected from 618 students. In the
students’ year in third grade, writing data was collected from 236 students (177 of these students
had participated during their time in first and second grade). The students were required to
remain in the study for 2–3 years in order to be included in the analysis.
The results revealed that the average length of text and the student’s total writing scores
increased annually. It showed how complex early writing development is, and the need for a
comprehensive, developmental model of writing. The variables of this study are factors that
affect writing development and significantly contributed to the quality and quantity of the
student’s writing.
The limitations in the study were: a reduction in the participants because of the high rate
of mobility in the district, the writing score was assessed annually using a single prompt, (the
students saw the same prompt multiple times which could have resulted in a gradual decrease in
their interest), and the lack of detailed information on the social climate and the instruction that
28
occurred in the classroom. There was also no information about the influence of the students’
second and third grade teachers. Later studies should look into how teachers and their instruction
at all levels influence writing. Future researchers need to conduct studies that follow students for
longer than 3 years to find out whether or not students’ experiences in first grade have a
relationship to their writing growth over a longer period of time.
Summary of the Literature Review
Music is vocal, instrumental or mechanical sounds that have rhythm, melody, or harmony
(Merriam-Webster, 1999). Writing is the act or process of literary or musical composition
(Merriam-Webster, 1999). Several studies have been conducted on whether or not music has an
effect on learning, the performance, and/or the mood of students (Hallam, et al. 2002, Thompson,
et al. 2001, and Savan, 1999). Incorporating music into classroom activities has been shown to
have positive effects on learning, motivation, and behavior (Campbell, 1997). However, some
investigations were unsuccessful in showing the benefits of music in a learning environment
(McKelvie and Low, 2002).
The first section of the Literature Review looked at studies where background music is
being used as a calming and relaxing way of enhancing task performance. Suggestions were
made that the effects of music are mediated by arousal and mood rather than directly affecting
cognition (Hallam et al., 2002). The research gives little understanding on how music may affect
behavior and various forms of studying. Another study of task performance viewed background
music as an inexpensive way to increase the amount of time that children are actively engaged in
learning (Davidson and Powell, 1996).
29
The use of background music to suppress stress levels was investigated by Savan (1998),
resulting in an improvement in behavior. There was a drop in blood pressure, body temperature,
and blood rate. The students were able to complete the tasks and stay focused for 40 minutes.
The need to determine whether or not background music, specifically Mozart, is a
consequence of arousal or mood was studied (Thompson, et al., 2001). The results gave evidence
that the Mozart effect can be explained by level of mood and arousal. The Mozart effect was also
looked at in a study on the performance on a computer game while Mozart is being played. The
results did not support the Mozart effect (Cassity et, al., 2007). The participants played a
computer game while listening to the original soundtrack and a Mozart selection. They were
unaware that the selection from Mozart was not part of the original soundtrack. There was only a
slight improvement in their performance, therefore the Mozart effect was considered to be
unsuccessful in real world situations.
In a different type of study, Rauscher, Shaw, and Ky (1998) also yielded that music has
little affect on rats in utero. Additionally, (McKelvie and Low (2002) conducted research that did
not support music. They used two separate to test the Mozart effect. The experiments were
repeated because they failed to include relaxation music.
Register’s study (2001) supports the use of background music because the results showed
an enhancement in learning prewriting and print concepts.
Studies on Writing Workshop have shown how students learn to write using this
technique. Jasmine and Weiner, (2007) looked at Writing Workshop and how it can help first
grade students become independent and confident writers. In this study, the researchers were
able to capture the student’s growth through surveys, observations, portfolios, and rubrics. The
30
results showed a slight increase in the enjoyment of writing, the students feeling more confident
and comfortable with writing, and an improvement in editing techniques.
Seagraves, Thacher, and Young (2005) reported on what they and their students learned
about the writing process. The teachers and the students discovered how the writing process
worked, how to take risks to learn something new, and that change can bring positive results.
Kraske also conducted a study on Writing Workshop to determine if it would improve 8th
grade students’ writing and how the format influenced their writing. She wanted to work closely
with the students in order to take a more active role with them individually. The results showed
an increase in the students’ writing.
Another study on writing (Coker) investigated the predictors of early writing for first
grade students from low-income families. He analyzed the growth in descriptive writing of
students in grades 1–3. The results showed an improvement in writing and how complex early
writing development is.
One study combined music and writing to see if there was a direct correlation between
the two (Koppelman and Imig, 1995). The second grade students exercised before each session.
During the exercise period music was not played. The students were given instructions and
began to write. They completed ten sessions, with the results showing a positive effect when
classical and jazz music was played. Listening to the top 40 music caused a distraction because
the students were familiar with the songs.
How and why does music have the ability to relax, console, motivate, or inspire us? What
is the relationship, if any, between the presence or absence of music and writing? How do
children become motivated and inspired to write? The present study will explore the effects of
31
classical and jazz music on the independent writing performance of first grade students. It may
be calming, inspirational and an enhancement to the learning environment.
32
Chapter III
Methods
Participants
The participants in this study were fifteen 6 and 7 year old children in a first grade class
in an elementary school in a middle class diverse urban area in Northern New Jersey. There were
7 boys and 8 girls. The students were from various ethnic backgrounds: 1 Iranian, 1
Chinese/Hispanic, 4 East Indian, 2 Hispanic, 6 African American, and 1 child from the
Philippines.
The teacher/researcher in this study was a female woman of color with ten years
experience in a first grade classroom. Prior to this she spent 6 years in kindergarten as a
paraprofessional. Teachers often conduct research in their own classrooms to improve their
practice (Goodwin & Goodwin 1996).
Materials
This study utilized mostly qualitative data collection methods, with some quantitative
data collections methods as well. Qualitative research is a particular tradition in social science
that fundamentally depends on watching people in their own territory and interacting with them
in their own language, on their own terms (Kirk & Miller, 1986). The goal of the qualitative
approach is to understand participant experiences and perspectives (Glanz, 2003). The following
materials were required in this study. Table 1 was created by the teacher/researcher to describe
the data collection sources and how they answer each of the research questions.
33
Table 1
Data Collection Sources
Research
Questions
Scoring
Rubric
Teacher
Journal
1.Quality of
Writing
X
X
2.Time focused
3. Classical vs.
Jazz
X
X
X
Observations
Time Sheet
Post-Child
Interviews
X
X
X
X
34
The teacher/researcher created a Scoring Rubric (Appendix A) that was adapted from a
Writing Workshop study (Jasmine & Weiner, 2007). It was used without music being played
prior to beginning the study and then with classical and jazz background music being played
during Writing Workshop. The rubric was used to evaluate the writing pieces of the children.
Quality was defined as the number of sentences used, whether or not capital letters and
punctuation were used correctly, and the length of the writing piece. Creativity was defined as
how many adjectives, adverbs, verbs, descriptive sentences and details were used in general.
An Observation Time Sheet (Appendix B) was used throughout the study. The name of
each child was listed on the sheets and the observations recorded during the children’s writing
time without music, with classical background music, and with jazz background music.
The teacher/researcher also created a Post-Child Interview (Appendix C) as part of the
study’s qualitative data analysis. The children were asked to give their opinions on classical and
jazz music being played in the background during Writing Workshop. They were also asked if
the music helped them focus and did I help them create a better writing piece.
Two graphic organizers were also used during this study. Appendix D helped the children
to highlight the characters, setting, problem, and solution in the story. Appendix E helped the
children to structure their story with a beginning, an expanded middle centered on a problem,
and a well crafted ending (B-M-M-M-E). Eventually the children used this information to create
a story booklet.
A Journal was used throughout the study as another data source. The teacher/researcher
wrote observations pertaining to the children’s positive or negative behavior during writing
without music and with classical and jazz background music.
35
In addition to these materials, the children used Writing Workshop folders (to store their
writing pieces), pencils, date stamps, word walls and some children referred to a dictionary if
they found it necessary. A CD player and CDs were also used during the study. The children
were exposed to Read Alouds in previous months during Writing Workshop. The class revisited
these Read Alouds to support this month’s mini-lessons. These were:
Title:
Author:
Frog and Toad Together
Arnold Lobel
Frog and Toad Are Friends
Arnold Lobel
Poppleton: Everyday
Cynthia Rylant
Poppleton
Cynthia Rylant
Henry and Mudge Get the Cold Shivers
Cynthia Rylant
A Letter to Amy
Ezra Jack Keats
Peter’s Chair
Ezra Jack Keats
Koala Lou, I Do Love You
Mem Fox
Procedures
A calendar (Appendix F) was created by the teacher/researcher. It consisted of the daily
sessions of Writing Workshop spanning twenty-one school days and 2 additional school days for
post interviews. The first week of the study was on April 21, 2010 where the children wrote
without music being played during the writing session and ended on April 29th. The second week
was from May 3rd through May 11th with classical background music being played. The third
consecutive week was May 12th through May 20th with jazz background music playing. On
Friday, May 21st and Monday, May 24th, the post interviews were conducted. The sessions were
scheduled for the same time each day. Each session was forty minutes.
36
The music was supplied by playing a prerecorded CD. The classical music was titled The
Mozart Effect Music for Children (Relax, Daydream, and Draw). The jazz CD used was The
Brian Barber Trio: Cool Jazz 4 Cool Kids.
Pre-Intervention Procedures
The ability of the children ranged from early independent to independent first grade
writing, based on the stages of writing development and district created report cards based on the
curriculum. The children were familiar with the Writing Workshop technique based on the Lucy
Calkins model (2003) from previous months of lessons. They were aware of the process and
what was expected during their time spent writing. These children were chosen for this study
based on their accessibility, their familiarity with the writing technique, and their ability to put
their thoughts on paper.
Pre-Intervention Assessments
Prior to the music being played while the children wrote, the children’s writing was
evaluated for quality and creativity, based on the criteria described in the Materials section,
above. The results were recorded on the Scoring Rubric (Appendix A). This allowed the
teacher/researcher to gather information to be used when comparing their writing without music
to their writing with classical and jazz music. The Observation Time Sheet (Appendix B) gave
information as to whether or not the children stayed on task or lost focus during writing without
music. This was used to compare their writing and focus while classical and jazz music were
being played. The use of a journal gave insight into the children’s behavior during the time that
music wasn’t played which would also be used to compare with music being played.
37
Intervention Procedures
The research took place during twenty-one days with two additional days for post
interviews (Appendix C). The mini-lessons, based on Lucy Calkins Writing Workshop (2003),
were taught as a whole group for 10–15 minutes each day of the study. The mini-lesson consists
of either a review of the previous learned writing objective or a new writing objective. The unit
of study for this workshop is fiction. The children were given graphic organizers to help them
plan and develop their characters, problems, and solutions for their fiction stories (Appendix E
and F). They were also given a choice of paper for their writing piece. The paper was lined with
an area for illustrating. They used a date stamp to put the date on their paper. Occasionally some
children would prefer to write the date with their pencil. The children were given approximately
20 minutes to write. During this time the teacher/researcher was walking around conferencing
with individual students. The conferring component is quick and is used to take notes on 2–3
children each day. It is a conversation between the teacher and the child. The teacher is able to
interview the child and observe to get an understanding of what the child is trying to say as a
writer, praise the child and give pointers of what can be done in the future, make a decision on
what the child needs to be taught, and teach the child what to do with the hopes that he/she will
retain the information and use it in future writing. These conferring notes were included in the
teacher’s journal along with observations regarding the other children in the class. The last five
minutes were used for 1–2 children to share their writing piece. These children were chosen
because they produced a writing piece that met the objectives or these children needed an
opportunity to share their writing, answer questions about their stories or ask for help.
During Week 1 the teacher/researcher introduced the unit of study and the children wrote
without background music. The following week the children wrote with classical background
38
music being played. In the final week, jazz background music was introduced during the writing
session. Throughout Weeks 2 and 3, the music was continuously played during writing and the
Observation Time Sheet, Journal, and Scoring Rubric were used.
Post-Intervention Procedures
At the end of the study, the Post-Study Child Interview (Appendix C) was used to
determine if the children liked the music, which genre they preferred, and whether or not the
music helped them to focus and create a better writing piece. The Scoring Rubric (Appendix A)
was also used for the writing pieces following no music, classical, and jazz music.
Data Collection
Throughout this study observations were made and recorded. The
teacher/researcher used the Observation Time Sheet, the Scoring Rubric and the Journal on a
daily basis. The observations helped with reflecting on lessons and reactions from the children.
The rubric made the expectations clear and easy to evaluate the children’s writing. The rubric
also served as a referral source when conferring with the students. The collections of data in this
study were used to conclude whether or not background music has an effect on children’s
writing. Table 1 displays and organizes the data collection methods according to hypothesis 1, 2
and 3.
39
CHAPTER IV
Results
Overview
The data collected in this study were used to determine the effects of classical and jazz
music on the quality of individual student’s writing and their ability to stay focused during
independent writing. The research was conducted over a period of three weeks and two days.
The schedule was seven days of collecting data without music, seven days listening to classical
music and seven days listening to jazz music during Writing Workshop. Two consecutive days
were used for individual post interviews.
The teacher/researcher used pre and post-tests that scored the quality, focus and creativity
of the student’s writing pieces. The teacher/researcher created a rubric (Appendix A) that was
adapted from a Writing Workshop study (Jasmine & Weiner, 2007). Prior to the study, the rubric
was used without music being played during Writing Workshop to score each child’s writing
piece. It was later used while classical and jazz background music was being played during
Writing Workshop. An Observation Time Sheet (Appendix B) was also used during the study as
a means of quickly and briefly recording the student’s ability to stay on topic, include details in
their writing, their use of complete sentences, and whether they were using references located in
the room (word wall, dictionaries, etc.). A teacher/researcher journal was used throughout the
study to record observation of the student’s positive and/or negative behavior during the writing
process. The Post-Child Interview sheet (Appendix C) was used as a final method to allow the
students to give their opinions on classical and jazz music being played during Writing
40
Workshop. “Like quantitative researchers, qualitative researchers are urged to employ multiple
methods of data collection or triangulation to better measure the phenomenon being studied.”
(Goodwin & Goodwin, 1996, p.152).
At the completion of the study, the teacher/researcher summarized the raw data and
created a table (Table 1) and graphs (Figures 1-3). Table 1 displays the mean writing scores in
terms of quality of writing, focus, and creativity for each of the 15 students in the study prior to
the study, while listening to jazz music, and while listening to classical music. These scores will
be discussed separately in this chapter, as they relate to each of the hypotheses.
41
Table 2
Writing Results Mean Scores for 7 days
STUDENT PRE
JM
2.00
SS
2.29
Ach
2.57
ZO
1.14
KG
0.29
NS
2.71
KM
1.43
JP
2.14
EO
1.14
TW
2.29
MJ
2.29
LR
2.57
JD
2.71
RS
1.86
AC
0.71
QUALITY
TOPIC FOCUS
CREATIVITY
CLASSICAL JAZZ PRE CLASSICAL JAZZ PRE CLASSICAL JAZZ
2.14
2.57 3.00
2.86
2.57 2.43
2.57
2.14
2.86
2.57 3.00
2.43
2.43 2.71
3.00
2.43
2.57
2.86 2.29
2.14
2.43 2.71
2.43
2.00
0.71
1.00 2.43
2.57
2.57 2.14
1.43
1.14
1.14
0.04 2.71
2.43
2.31 2.14
1.71
2.14
0.43
2.86 2.57
2.43
2.71 2.57
2.86
2.43
0.29
3.00 2.71
2.29
2.57 3.43
2.29
2.00
2.43
2.29 2.43
2.71
2.71 2.14
0.29
1.43
1.29
1.14 2.71
3.00
2.29 1.86
1.86
1.71
2.43
1.86 0.43
2.43
2.43 1.86
2.29
1.00
2.43
2.71 2.57
3.00
0.43 2.14
2.86
2.71
2.57
2.43 2.43
1.57
1.57 0.29
2.14
1.71
2.71
2.86 2.86
2.86
2.71 2.29
2.43
2.14
2.71
2.14 2.86
3.00
3.00 1.86
2.57
1.71
2.71
2.86 2.86
2.43
2.86 1.43
2.71
1.86
42
The teacher/researcher reviewed the journal and the Observation Time Sheet. The journal
gave insight into the children’s positive or negative behavior during Writing Workshop. The
Observation Time Sheet was a reflection on the lessons and provided the teacher/researcher with
information as to whether or not the students wrote complete sentences that included details,
stayed on topic based on the mini lesson during Writing Workshop, and used any references
(dictionaries, word wall, other students, etc.) around the room that would assist them in creating
a solid writing piece.
Analysis of Data
Hypothesis 1- Listening to classical or jazz music while writing will improve the quality of
children’s writing.
It was hypothesized that the quality of the student’s writing would improve when they
listened to classical or jazz music during Writing Workshop. To test this hypothesis, the students
listened to classical and jazz music while they worked on a writing piece.
Table 2, displayed earlier in the chapter, was a useful way to synthesize the raw data in
order to understand how the quality, focus and creativity of the writing were affected by jazz and
classical music. Figure 1 shows how jazz and classical music affected the quality of the students’
writing.
43
Figure 1.
Quality mean scores of writing samples.
3.50
3.00
2.50
2.00
QUALITY PRE
1.50
QUALITY CLASSICAL
QUALITY JAZZ
1.00
0.50
0.00
44
Rubric scores showed that for 9 out of 15 (60%) of the students, quality of writing
improved when classical music was being played; for 3 out of 15 (20%) of the students scores
remained the same; and for 3 out of 15 (20%) of the students, scores went down when classical
music was played as opposed to having no music being played during writing time. Nine out of
15 (60%) of the students showed an increase in their scores while jazz was being played; 5 out of
15 (33%) had a decrease in their scores, and 1 out of 15 students (6%) remained the same
(Figure 1).
One hundred percent of the students reported that music in general helped them create a
better writing piece. They describe the effect as “calming,” “promotes better ideas” and “being
able to think faster.”

“Music helps me make better writing pieces because I really work hard on my work and
it’s like the music is not on, but it is.”

“Yes, because it helps me think of my characters and without music I can’t think of my
characters that quick.”
Reviewing the journal gave the teacher/researcher some insight into whether or not the
students noticed the background music and their thoughts about what they heard. On the first day
that classical music was played two students commented on it. “This is French, said JM.” “Did
you know that Mozart makes you smarter? I don’t know how but my mom says it makes you
smarter, said JD.” A couple of days later, a student asked, “Can we play Spanish music?” The
following day another student asked, “What’s that music? Where is it coming from?” It is
obvious that the students noticed the music. Some recognized it as something they heard before
and others had no frame of reference.
45
The review of the journal also allowed the teacher/researcher to make a connection to the
60% of the students showing improvement in the quality of their writing; an increase of support
and assistance which they gave to one another during the week that classical music was played.
Having peer to peer conversations about ideas, characters, and the details of a story, is an asset to
the quality of their writing. Twenty percent of the students’ quality of writing remained the same
and the remaining 20% showed a decrease.
46
Hypothesis 2 - Listening to classical or jazz music while writing will increase the time that
children stay focused in independent writing.
It was hypothesized that the children would be able to stay focused on their writing for
longer periods of time while listening to classical or jazz music. Again, Table 2 was a useful way
to synthesize the raw data in order to understand how the focus of the writing was affected by
classical and jazz music. Figure 2 shows how jazz and classical music affected the observed
ability for the students to stay focused on their writing.
47
Figure 2.
Topic focus mean scores of writing samples.
3.50
3.00
2.50
TOPIC FOCUS PRE
2.00
TOPIC FOCUS
CLASSICAL
1.50
TOPIC FOCUS JAZZ
1.00
0.50
AC
RS
JD
LR
MJ
TW
EO
JP
KM
NS
KG
ZO
ACh
SS
JM
0.00
48
Rubric scores for topic focus showed that 6 out of 15 (40%) of the students stayed
focused while classical music was being played, 8 out of the 15 (53%) had a decrease in their
ability to stay focused, and 1 child out of the 15 (6%) had no change in his/her ability to stay
focused while classical music was playing. For jazz music there were 8 out of 15 (53%) who had
an increase; 7 out of the 15 students (47%) showed a decrease, and none of the students remained
the same (0%).
Responses to question 4 of the Post Study Child Interview (Appendix C) show that 100% of
the students believed that music helped them focus on their writing. Their responses included:

“I think music helps me create better writing pieced by being calm and calm
makes me concentrate.”

“It helps me focus because it makes my brain think about my story.”

“The music helps me focus because the music does not have voice.”
The journal gave insight into the behavior of some students when they found it difficult to
focus. One girl isolated herself from the other students. She moved to an area in the room where
no one was sitting. “I need to concentrate,” she said. The next day jazz music was introduced and
the same girl said she needed to go to her seat so that she could concentrate. Two other girls
joined her so that they were away from the students on the rug.
49
Hypothesis 3 - It was hypothesized that classical music would affect the quality, creativity and
focus of children’s writing more positively than jazz music.
The data summarized and discussed earlier in this chapter for quality and focus were used
to answer this hypothesis. In addition, Figure 3 summarized data that measured creativity.
50
Figure 3.
Creativity mean scores of writing samples.
4.00
3.50
3.00
2.50
2.00
1.50
1.00
CREATIVITY PRE
CREATIVITY CLASSICAL
CREATIVITY JAZZ
0.50
0.00
51
Figure 3 shows that the creativity of the children’s writing increased while listening to
classical music for 9 out of the 15 (60%) of the students, decreased for 5 out of the 15 (33%), and
stayed the same as during the pretest for one out of the 15 (6%) students when listening to
classical music. When jazz music was played, 2 out of the 15 (13%) of the students showed an
increase in their scores and 13 out of the 15 (87%) showed a decrease. None of the students (0%)
remained the same.
Thus, the hypothesis, that classical music would affect the quality, creativity, and focus
of children’s writing more positively than jazz music would, was true. Table 3 shows that the
mean scores increased for focus creativity and quality when children listened to classical as
opposed to when there was no music or when jazz music was played.
52
Table 3
Writing Results of Total Mean Scores Comparisons
QUALITY
TOPIC FOCUS
CREATIVITY
PRE CLASSICAL JAZZ
PRE CLASSICAL JAZZ
PRE CLASSICAL JAZZ
1.88
2.52
2.13
1.96
2.22
2.54
2.37
2.23
1.90
53
Table 3 shows that mean scores for focus decreased .15% when listening to jazz but
increased by .02% when listening to classical. Mean scores for creativity decreased .23% when
listening to jazz, but increased .1% when listening to classical. The mean for quality increased
.34% when listening to jazz and .8% when listening to classical.
During the post interview (Appendix C), the students were asked which type of music
they liked to hear during Writing Workshop. Sixty percent said they liked jazz music and 40%
didn’t know which one they liked better. Forty seven percent said they liked classical music
playing; 40% said they didn’t like to hear classical music during Writing Workshop, and 13%
didn’t know which one they liked better. Fifty four percent of the students preferred jazz music
in general while 33% preferred classical music and 13% didn’t know. In some, jazz was the
preferred reported style of music to listen to while writing and music in general was reported to
help focus and create better writing pieces by 100% of the participants (See Table 4).
54
Table 4
Post Study Child Interview Response
I like jazz music
playing while we have
Writing Workshop.
Yes
60%
No
0%
Don’t Know
40%
I like classical music
playing while we have
Writing Workshop.
Yes
47%
No
40%
Don’t Know
13%
Do you prefer…
Jazz
54%
Classical
33%
Don’t know
13%
Does music help you
focus during Writing
Workshop?
Yes
100%
No
0%
N/A
0%
Do you think music
helped you create
better writing pieces?
Yes
100%
No
0%
N/A
0%
55
Sixty percent of the students showed improvement in the quality of their writing while
listening to classical music and 53% showed improvement while listening to jazz. Forty-seven
percent of the students showed a decrease in the quality of their writing while listening to jazz
music while there was a 20% decrease in the quality when the students listened to classical
music. Another 20% of the students did not show any growth in the quality of their writing while
classical music was being played. Forty percent of the students showed an increase in remaining
focused while writing; there was a 53% decrease, and no change for 6% of the students when
classical music was played. During the week of listening to jazz, there was a 53% increase; 47%
decrease, and 0% changed. For quality and focus on creativity, 60% of the students showed an
increase; 33% decreased, and 15% showed no change during the classical sessions. Listening to
jazz music showed a 13% increase; 87% showed a decrease, and 0% showed no change.
56
Additional Research Question
The teacher/researcher wondered how music affected writing with regard to gender. The
class consisted of seven boys and eight girls. Based on the post test interviews, all the boys in the
study as well as the girls reported that music helped them focus and create better writing pieces
and that they like writing with music better than without. One girl commented on whether or not
music affects the quality of her writing, “Yes, because it makes me laugh in my head.” A boy’s
response was, “It helps me focus writing because I get onomatopoeia in my writing.” Of the
60% who reported that they like jazz music while writing, five were boys and four were girls.
Two boys and four girls reported that they weren’t sure. Of the 47% that reported they like
classical music while writing, four were girls and three were boys. Four boys and two girls
reported that they didn’t like classical music and two girls weren’t sure. Although the boys and
girls liked jazz music better, their scores didn’t increase with jazz. When jazz music was being
played there was a slight decrease in terms of quality and creativity. There was a slight increase
from classical music in all areas measured. There was only a very slight difference in the way
music affected the girls’ writing as opposed to the boys writing.
Summary of Results
Based on the review of the data, the teacher/researcher concluded that jazz and classical
music affected the children’s writing. It was reported by the students that both genres of music
had a calming and soothing effect even though the results for jazz music showed a slight
decrease in focus and creativity. However, the total mean scores for the class as a whole, showed
a slightly larger increase in quality when jazz music was played. Music perceived by the students
as calming had a positive effect on the performance and behavior of the students. The research
57
suggests that there are qualities in classical and jazz music that produce a more soothing
environment than when no music is played, which resulted in the students concentrating on their
writing.
The students responded well to the introduction of background music during Writing
Workshop. I saw a slight difference in their behavior as well as their writing. The music elicited
conversations among the students that helped them to add more details to their writing piece.
Their positive responses to music being played during Writing Workshop validated the use of
music in the classroom.
58
Chapter V
Discussion
The purpose of this study was to investigate music and the effects it has on children and
their ability to focus on their writing and the quality, quantity, and creativity of the writing. The
results from the pre-tests and post-tests, from classical and jazz music, revealed that the
participants had a more positive result with classical music as opposed to jazz music. When
comparing the total mean scores for quality, focus, and creativity, the study supported the
expected results that music would have a positive effect on children’s writing. Although a large
percentage of the students reported during the post interview that they preferred jazz music to
classical music, their total mean scores showed an increase more times during the time that
classical music was being played than when jazz was being played. The data collected from the
post study child interview showed that all of the students thought that music helped them to
focus more on their writing and to create a better writing piece.
Hypothesis 1 - Listening to classical or jazz music while writing will improve the quality of
children’s writing.
It was expected that the quality of the student’s writing would improve when they
listened to classical or jazz music during Writing Workshop. The teacher/researcher found this to
be true. The data collected from the rubric showed that the quality of writing improved for the
students when classical and jazz music was being played, with classical having a slightly higher
total mean score than jazz in topic focus and creativity. The total mean score was higher for jazz
in regard to the student’s quality of writing.
Data from the teacher/researcher’s journal supported the findings. It was noted by the
teacher/researcher that several students were thinking before they wrote, rereading their work,
59
having peer to peer conversations regarding their writing piece, and engaging in self talk as they
worked through completing a writing piece. During the post interview, the students commented
that music helped them to think, focus and promoted a calming effect during the writing process.
When classical music was being played, the students were a bit more unsettled and talkative at
the beginning of writing independently. Eventually they settled down and became more engaged
in their writing piece. This led them to give one another more assistance and to discuss their
stories with their peers. Taking the time to reread their work seemed to increase when jazz music
was being played, but they appeared to engage in less self talk and required more support from
the teacher/researcher during the writing process. Their challenges with writing fiction were at its
highest point during the pre-test which may be because they were required to use their
imaginations.
There were a few days when the students appeared fidgety and not able to focus, but this
could be due to changes in schedules that interfered with Writing Workshop. Once the normal
schedule was followed and the teacher/researcher spent a few minutes redirecting the students,
they were able to get back on task.
The findings of the present study regarding the use of music as a way to enhance the
quality of writing supports the study conducted by Koppelman and Imig (1995). Their study
showed that classical and jazz music had a positive effect on the student’s writing. The present
study found that there was an increase in the quality of the students writing when jazz music was
played. The study by Koppleman and Imig found that jazz and classical music had a significant
effect on the writing of the students. Both studies were similar in their goal to see if there was a
correlation between music and writing. In the present study, the first grade student’s intellectual
60
ability ranged from on level to above level. Similarly, in the Koppleman and Imig study, the
second grade students ranged from grade level to first grade level.
A study by Register (2001) was conducted to assess the effects of music on the writing
skills of students. The study evaluates a music curriculum used to teach writing skills. The
students were enrolled in an Early Intervention and Exceptional Student program. The students
were given a pre and post test. The outcome was that the integration of music and writing
enhanced the writing skills of the students. The current study supports these findings of the
positive results that can be seen from merging music with writing and giving students this type of
exposure.
Hypothesis 2 - Listening to classical or jazz music while writing will increase the time that
children stay focused in independent writing.
The present study was also conducted to determine whether or not classical or jazz music
would increase the children’s focus during Writing Workshop. In the post study child interview,
all of the students responded that music helped in their ability to focus during Writing Workshop.
The total mean score for topic focus showed an increase from the pretest to when classical music
was being played and a decrease from the pretest score and classical music to when jazz music
was introduced.
The teacher/researcher chose instrumental classical and jazz music so that the students
were not distracted by any vocals in the songs. One student wrote the following response in the
Post Study Child Interview (Appendix C): “The music helps me focus because the music does
not have voice.” It was important to the teacher/researcher to maintain a level of consistency
during Writing Workshop so that the students established a routine and that the music served as a
61
background. The music was played at a volume that wasn’t overbearing, yet the students could
clearly hear it. Some of the students had background knowledge about classical and jazz music,
but may not have known what they were called. Data from the teacher/researcher’s journal
reported that the students danced in their seats when some jazz songs were being played. The
results from the Post Study Child Interview (Table 4) showed evidence that 54% of the students
preferred jazz to classical music and 60% responded that they like jazz music playing during
Writing Workshop.
In accordance with Davidson and Powell (1986), easy listening background music is
effective in increasing the performance of elementary school children. In their study, they
observed a group of students who were diverse in their level of ability. They tried to determine
the effects of easy listening background music on the task-performance of students. At the end of
each observation, without background music, with background music, and then again without
background music, a percentage of time-on-task was calculated for each student and for the total
class. The findings from this study validate the hypothesis that classical or jazz music will
increase the time that the student’s are focused.
Hypothesis 3 - It was hypothesized that classical music would affect the quality, creativity and
focus of children’s writing more positively than jazz music.
The students thought that music in general helped them to create a better writing piece.
The writing results of the total mean score indicate that there were more positive results in the
student’s writing when classical music was played in comparison to when jazz was played.
Classical music was a more effective tool for promoting calm in the classroom and as a means
for developing or increasing writing skills.
62
A study was done by Savan (1999), investigated the use of certain Mozart compositions
being played as background music to suppress levels of stress. The results showed an
improvement in behavior, a drop in blood pressure, body temperature, and pulse rate. All of the
students were able to complete the assigned tasks and their concentration lasted throughout the
40 minute lessons. Savan concluded that there are qualities in certain Mozart compositions that
elicit changes in students. This supports the hypothesis of the present study that classical music
would affect the students more positively.
Another supportive result is the study by McKnight (1998) to determine if listening to
classical music would have an effect on task performance during independent writing.
Independent writing was a difficult time during the day for the teacher because of the high noise
level, the student’s short attention span, and calling out for assistance. This first grade class’
intellectual ability ranged from below level to above level. Most of the students were emergent
writers who illustrated or wrote letters and/or scribbles. The others were early writers who wrote
single words or some short phrases. The students in the present study were able to write one to
three paragraphs or three page stories during Writing Workshop. The results of the McKnight
study showed a 7.7% increase in the student’s ability to stay on task and a decrease in the
classroom noise level.
Additional Research Questions
The students in this class were considered academically advanced compared to the other
first grade classes. Their reading and writing abilities were at or above grade level. This raises
the question of whether or not this study would have the same effect on students who read and
63
write below grade level. It also raises the question of whether or not the percentages in the results
would be as small or would there be more of an increase.
Conclusions
The findings provide an understanding of the ways that music can affect the quality and
focus of writing for students in a Writing Workshop environment. In this instance, music appears
to have provided a calming atmosphere for the students to create and complete a task. The
students acknowledged the music, but concentration was not lost and the music did not disrupt
their work. The students briefly listened to the music, occasionally made comments and then
returned their attention to writing. In fact, the study indicates that the music was an aid in
developing positive behaviors during the writing process. Classical and jazz music can be used in
the classroom in all content areas. Playing music in the classroom may provide a more
productive and enjoyable atmosphere for the students as well as the teacher.
Children should be exposed to a variety of music in order to encourage an appreciation
for the different genres. The teacher/researcher thought it was important to choose two
instrumental genres of music with a serene sound, as opposed to music accompanied by vocals
because vocals may have encouraged the students to sing along. The songs were simple and
made specifically as an introduction for children to become familiar with both genres of music.
Hallam, Price and Katsarou (2002) report that the impact of the calming, relaxing music suggests
that in schools, appropriately selected music could be used to create an optimum environment for
children to undertake individual work. It may also be useful when children are overly aroused or
in the cafeteria during lunch as a way to decrease the level of noise.
64
New Jersey’s Core Curriculum Content Standards (2009) says that all students will
demonstrate an understanding of the elements and principle that govern the creation of works of
art. The elements of music are the building blocks that music is composed of, such as rhythm and
harmony. Students need to develop an ear and sensitivity to the rhythm, harmony, etc. of various
types of music.
The teacher/researcher provided the students with a stimulating learning environment by
giving them an awareness of classical and jazz music. By following the standards, the
teacher/researcher gave the students an opportunity to experience the effects of music on their
writing. Based on the observations and data, the students in this study were affected by the use
of background music. Classical and jazz music did produce a calming atmosphere in the
classroom and did elicit a better performance by the students. Providing background music in the
classroom was an inexpensive technique for increasing the amount of time that students were
actively engaged in writing. It was also beneficial with helping the students to produce a better
quality of writing. Although the effects varied between students, the overall all the students
performed better when background music was being played.
Educational Implications
The findings of this study conclude that the use of classical and jazz music helped to
improve the quality, creativity, and the student’s focus during Writing Workshop. The research
in this study helped to support earlier studies about the importance of incorporating music into
the curriculum.
In general children may not be aware of the different genres of music that are available to
listen to. Local libraries have a surplus of music that can be borrowed to use in the classroom.
65
Students should be given the opportunity to enjoy the various sounds available in order to
expand their exposure to music. Another means of bringing music to the classroom, is to invite
family members or people in the community to perform or introduce the students to music from
their country or a different style of music. Students can learn about various cultures by listening
to music from around the world. The students may be used to listening to a certain type or music
and may know the words to familiar songs, but they would enjoy being introduced to new
melodies, rhythms and words.
For this study the teacher/researcher used instrumental music so that words did not
distract the students. There is a variety of instrumental music that could be use for writing.
Students can listen to an arrangement and write a poem or a story about it. They can even use
different types of music to represent the different characters in a story they have written or a
story they are familiar with. A rhythm or a beat can be used to help students remember how to
spell a word they are having difficulty with. The goal is to increase their knowledge, abilities,
and the experiences they have. Music is a means of increasing the joy of the experience.
The findings of this study may have an impact on the student’s life at home. The students
referred to classical and jazz music as being soothing and calming. What are they listening to at
home? Parents need to be aware of how the music their children listen to at home can have an
effect on their behavior and academics. If the music is arousing or perceived as unpleasant, it
may contribute to aggressive or negative behavior. Younger children may not be able to
recognize the impact this type of music may have on their behavior or on their ability to perform
a task. Parents are responsible for monitoring the music their young children are exposed to and
opt for music that will enhance their behavior and their work.
66
Limitations of the Study
One limitation in the study is the small sample size of the participants of the study.
Additionally, the study was only implemented for a brief period of time. Had this study been
implemented with a larger group of students and for a longer period of time, the
teacher/researcher may have found a greater increase in the student’s on task performance.
Interruptions during Writing Workshop because of school events, posed a problem. The students
were used to a routine and once that was interrupted, it took a few minutes to get them to settle
down and focus on their writing. One final limitation relates to the fact that the study was based
on the Writing Workshop technique and schedule for the month. Having to introduce a new type
of graphic organizer presented an unexpected finding. The students reported that the graphic
organizer was confusing, which had nothing to do with the music. Throughout the study the
children made comments about being comfortable with writing their stories on writing paper as
opposed to using a graphic organizer (Appendix E). Some comments included, “I have no idea
what to write.” and “I can’t think about my characters.” An excerpt from the teacher/researcher’s
journal notes, “Some of the students are confused about stretching out their ideas into a
beginning, middle, middle, and end piece. They are use to the beginning, middle, and end
graphic organizer and this is confusing to some of the students. Putting the information into
boxes may be the source of their confusion, only because more boxes have been added to the
graphic organizer. Many more students needed support to begin to write.” Eventually some of
the students became a bit more comfortable with the concept.
Implications for Future Research
A total of 15 students were part of the study. Thus the study was limited to this sample
67
and may be an indication of the small difference in the results. In the future the
teacher/researcher or others may want to look at this study with a larger sample. Also, further
research may be required to establish whether the effects of this study can be sustained over time
if music is played on a regular basis. It can be determined whether or not the novelty of the
experience contributed to the effects that occurred. Future research could also include a
longitudinal writing study that incorporates music during the writing process for one to two
years. It would also be interesting to look at the effects of other types of music on writing and the
effects of music on children in other grade levels.
68
Appendix A
Scoring Rubric
Name ________________________________
__No Music
__Classical Music
Total points for quality _______________
__Jazz Music
Total points for creativity _______________
Total overall points __________________
Quality (Grammar, Style, and Content)
3 Points
Student wrote 7 or
more complete
sentences using
capital letters and
ending punctuation
correctly.
2 Points
Student wrote 5–6
sentences, including
some complete
sentences, capital
letters, and ending
punctuation.
1 Point
Student wrote 2–4
sentences with
frequent errors in
capitalization and
punctuation.
0 Points
Student wrote less
than 2 complete
sentences.
2 Points
Student strays from
the original topic in 1
sentence.
1 Point
Student strays from
the topic more than
once.
0 Points
Student has no topic
focus.
2 Points
Student uses 5–6
adjectives, adverbs,
verbs, and descriptive
phrases to add details
to the writing piece.
1 Point
Student uses 2-4
adjectives, adverbs,
verbs, and descriptive
phrases to add details
to the writing piece.
0 Points
Student wrote less
than 2 adjectives,
adverbs, verbs, or
descriptive phrases
in the writing piece.
Topic Focus
3 Points
Student stays on topic
throughout the writing
piece.
Creativity
3 Points
Student uses 7 or
more adjectives,
adverbs, verbs, and
descriptive phrases to
add details to the
writing piece.
Comments:
69
APPENDIX B
Observation Time Sheet
Date ________________________________________
__No Music
__Classical Music
__Jazz Music
Time of Writing Workshop _________________
Name of Student:
Codes:
Comments:
CS: writes complete sentences
DI: details are included
OT: stays on topic
REF: uses references around the classroom (word wall, dictionary,
etc.)
70
APPENDIX C
Post-Study Child Interview
Name ________________________________
Date _______________________________
1. I like jazz music playing while
we have Writing Workshop.
2. I like classical music playing while
we have Writing Workshop.
3. I like __________________________better.
(Classical, Jazz or I don’t know which one I like better)
4. Does music help you focus during Writing Workshop? Explain.
___yes
___no
___I don’t know
5. Do you think music helped you create better writing pieces? Explain.
___yes
___no
___I don’t know
71
Appendix D
Graphic Organizer
Name _____________________________________________________________
Date ______________________________________________________________
Characters
Setting
Problem
Solution
72
Appendix E
Graphic Organizer
Name _____________________________________________________________
Date ______________________________________________________________
Beginning
Middle
Middle
73
Middle
End
74
APPENDIX F
Calendar
April 21 – 29, 2010 (7 school days)
The data will be collected without music using the Scoring Rubric, the Observation Time Sheet,
and the Journal.
May 3 – 11, 2010 (7 school days)
The data will be collected with classical music being played using the Scoring Rubric, the
Observation Time Sheet, and the Journal.
May 12 – 20, 2010 (7 school days)
The data will be collected with jazz music being played using the Scoring Rubric, the
Observation Time Sheet, and the Journal.
May 21 & May 24, 2010 (2 school days)
Individual Post-Interviews will take place on these days.
75
REFERENCES
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Calkins, L. (1994). The art of teaching writing. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann
Cassity, H.D., Henley, T.B., Markley, R.P. (2007). The Mozart Effect: musical phenomenon or
musical preference? A more ecologically valid reconsideration. Journal of Instructional
Psychology, 34(1), 13 – 17.
Coker, D. (2006). Impact of first-grade factors on the growth and outcomes of urban
schoolchildren’s primary-grade writing. Journal of Educational Psychology, 98(3), 471488.
Davidson, C.W., Powell, L.A., (1986). The effects of easy-listening background music on the ontask-performance of fifth-grade children. Journal of Educational Research, 80(1), 29-33.
Goodwin, L.D., Goodwin, W.L. (1996). Understanding quantitative and qualitative research in
early childhood education. New York, NY: Teachers College Press.
Hallam, S., Price, J., Katsarou, G. (2002). The effects of background music on primary school
pupils’ task performance. Educational Studies, 28(2), 111-122.
Jasmine, J., Weiner, W. (2007). The effects of writing workshop on abilities of first grade
students to become confident and independent writers. Early Childhood Education
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Koppelman, D., Scott, I. (1995). The effects of music on children’s writing content (Master’s
thesis). Available from the Educational Resources Information Center (ERIC). CS214903
McKelvie, P., Low, J. (2002). Listening to Mozart does not improve children’s spatial ability:
Final curtains for the Mozart effect. British Journal of Developmental Psychology, 20,
241-258.
McKnight, R. (1998). Does listening to slow tempo classical music during independent writing
affect children’s on-task performance? (Master’s thesis). Available from the Educational
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Rauscher, F.H., Shaw, G.L., Ky. (1998). Do rats show a Mozart effect? Music Perception
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Savan, A. (1999). The effects of background music on learning. Psychology of Music, 27, 138146.
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Psychological Science, 12(3), 248-251
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