Date of Completion

January 1981


Education, Curriculum and Instruction




Problem. It was the purpose of this study to explore selected outcomes of using the medium of commercially-recorded pop/rock music as an integral part of an instructional package in language arts. The research was designed to compare alternate learning conditions--music and no music--with respect to task performance and continuing motivation.^ Design. Subjects of the study were 201 fourth and sixth graders in two elementary schools in a large Connecticut city in 1979. Four fourth grades and four sixth grades were randomly assigned to treatment. Experimental materials, developed and piloted by the investigator, consisted of the printed lyrics of a pop/rock song and three language games requiring students to use letters and words from the lyrics to decode a message, unscramble and match definitions and follow complex directions. All subjects received identical packets; the music group heard the recorded song on tape and the no music group heard the investigator read the lyrics aloud. Each student had twenty minutes to work through the material.^ Task performance was measured by tallying the number of correct responses. Continuing motivation, which psychologist Martin L. Maehr has defined as the tendency to return to and continue working on tasks away from the instructional context in which they were initially confronted, was measured by a simple three-item self-report device developed by Maehr and a three-point Likert-type scale reflecting teacher perception of typical student behavior.^ The two primary hypotheses, which examined differences between treatment groups with respect to task performance and continuing motivation (CM), were analyzed by means of three-way analyses of covariance using sex, grade level and treatment as the independent variables, reading standardized score as the covariate and (1)task performance and (2)CM as the dependent variables. A secondary hypothesis on the relationship of task performance to CM was analyzed by generating a product-moment correlation which was tested at the .05 level.^ Results. No significant main effects or interactions were obtained for the analysis of covariance for task performance, and the null hypothesis was accepted. Analysis of the data on CM revealed that the fourth grade scored significantly higher than the sixth grade (F = 4.84, p < .05), as did those in the music condition over the no music condition (F = 6.67, p < .01). There was a significant interaction between sex and treatment condition (F = 3.85, p < .05), the highest levels of CM found for girls in the music condition and boys in the no music condition. A further analysis of CM was modified by teacher perception of students' normal classroom behavior. This analysis revealed that those in the music condition scored significantly higher (F = 17.03, p < .01). There was a statistically significant relationship between task performance and CM due to the large sample size (r = 22, df = 199, p < .01) but it was concluded that the relationship demonstrated little practical significance, the variables sharing only 4.8% in common.^ Conclusions. Music was found to serve neither as a positive force nor a distraction with respect to achievement, a finding of particular interest in light of the significant relationship demonstrated between music and CM, especially the motivation of children whom teachers perceived as almost always unmotivated. The negligible practical relationship found between task performance and CM makes a case for music as a potent antecedent of CM independent of achievement.^ Results suggest that curriculum specialists and classroom teachers need to pay more attention to this medium and look for ways to integrate it into language arts activities. It is important that further research be conducted which replicates as well as refines this study in order to clarify these data.^