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The research being undertaken is a study into the hypothesis of a measurable link between creative and standard music tuition in aiding the development of cognitive ability and additionally the development of emotional and psychological wellbeing in children. The study will be conducted in two primary schools located in NSW, one in a regional location and one in a city location. The reason for undertaking this specific research is to broaden the application of existing music tuition in schools to include more comprehensive developmental and intelligence training which is currently overlooked.
The questions the researchers are asking, are, does music have an actual measurable and repeatable affect on the cognitive, and psychological wellbeing development of children? With the subsequent questions of, how to incorporate music therapy techniques into an acceptable functioning structure of music tuition appropriate to the core curriculum? In addition to asking, if it is feasible to support extra funding for the employment of specialised creative music educators?
Aims and objectives
Currently the music education offered in most schools covers only convention music tuition. Over the last few years substantial research has set out to prove a link between cognition and music with significant positive results. With this in mind the author's research is proposing to develop knowledge in the field, by substantiating a further link between music and psychological wellbeing. By applying specific measures to children who have undergone a full year of creative music training which is aligned with music therapy, the study is setting out to measure any improvements which assist children with the development of multiple intelligences, capable of functioning creatively, intellectually, and psychologically in their future lives.
A brief overview of the relevant literature in this field
Among the many studies that have been undertaken into music and its ability to affect the learning capabilities of children, the majority have focused on cognitive outcomes only. For example, Register, Darrow, Standley, & Swedberg (2007) who conducted a study using second grade students with reading disabilities, using music to enhance reading skills. The researchers found that the sound structure of language can be understood through recognising that word meaning can be decoded through rhyme and sound recognition. Since sound and rhyme can be transferred into word knowledge skills via the aid of music, in particular songs which have the ability to teach word use and vocabulary, to draw children in and motivate them to learn and enjoy reading. In addition Piro and Ortiz (2009) hypothesised a connection between language and music, with special consideration into syntax comparisons between music and language, and the human systems used to code and decode messages. The two skills they focused on were vocabulary and verbal sequencing, which are stated as the foundation of literacy. The researchers concluded that although they could link substantial cognitive improvement, however, they also suggested further research be undertaken in hope of gaining concrete evidence.
Therefore, the author's research intends to further the study of music as a cognitive tool as well as a tool to enhance self-esteem, and wellbeing, by using the creativity, the group ability, and the structure of music to establish a measurable link with which music can be unutilised within the core curriculum augment children's development.
The research will require 2 primary schools to participate, one located in the Sydney region, and one located in the region of Bathurst, who can commit to allowing 24 female, and 24 male students aged from 5 to 13, to volunteer to participate in a year long program. The students that will be accepted will need no previous musical experience, as the purpose of the study is aimed at discovering if music can stimulate cognitive ability and emotional development. The students participating will also be aware that they will undertake IQ and psychological tests during the process to record development across the time span of the research. The students who elect to join the research will always have the option to withdraw from the program at anytime, for any reason. The research will also require a qualified music teacher for each school who has undertaken a specialised training program in both music therapy skills and cognitive development skills to enhance their music lessons. The researchers participating will consist of two persons for each school, who have specialised qualifications in the field of psychology and research.
The researchers of this study consider that the methods and materials used to collect data will consist of quantitative data collection in order to accumulate specific measureable responses and information. In addition to qualitative data collections in order to accumulate unobtrusive unbiased recorded information through the human factor as well as taking advantage of the technological recording of information. The researchers feel it important to make use of both styles of research data collection methods to enable researchers to repeatedly review actual visual and audio recordings, which can be analysed against standard observational data and against all the quantitative data from the questionnaires and interviews.
The students will be asked to participate in facilitated group interviews akin to group counselling sessions, to facilitate an overall sense of expression and freedom of opinion gained from the social support of peers. The students will also be asked to participate privately in answering 10 closed interview questions relating to their experiences of the research and its affect on their lives. For example; how do you feel these classes are helping you with your school work? And, how do you feel the music lessons are helping your life outside school? Or; could you tell me if you feel any benefit to your sense of increased happiness from playing music? They will be asked to tick a boxes numbered 1 to 5, that correlates to their experience; 1= excellent help, 2= really helps, 3 = slightly helps, 4= not helping, 5 =causing hurt.
Lessons will be aligned within each school term which consists of approximately 12 weeks. The research will require 2 one hour lessons per week to be able to cover the types of instruction required. The first weekly lesson will focus on cognitive development skills such as vocabulary and mathematics derived from music tuition, structured around reading notation, timing, rhythmical phrasing and lyrics. The second weekly music lesson will be structured around group involvement, and creative expression through listening, singing, and the writing of music, including musical melodies, vocal melodies and lyrics.
The questionnaires being used is the Multiple Intelligences Test - based on Howard Gardner's MI Model, sourced from Chislett & Chapman (2005-06), to gauge the children's differing sense of themselves and their differing intelligences. As well as, the Bar-On (2007) EQ test The EQ-i:YV (BarOn Emotional Quotient Inventory Youth Version), of which there is a short version consisting of only 30 questions, capable of measuring, intrapersonal, interpersonal, stress management, adaptability, mood, positive impression, and inconsistency index. In addition to using another style of intelligence testing the Kaufman (2009) KABC-11, which is aimed at targeting at measuring cognitive ability from the aspects of, learning /Glr, sequential / Gsm, simultaneous / Gv, planning / Gf, and knowledge / Gc. The reason for choosing these different tests rests in attempting to differentiate between cognitive mental ability and an increase in emotional or psychological sense self, as well as, a sense of happiness and wellbeing. Observation will also be carried out by two researches sitting in on classes, in addition to video and audio recording to collect any data that human observation misses. The researchers will use programs to analyse information such as ANCOVA and ANOVA as cited by Field (2008-2009) which allows analysis of supplementary variables or covariates or statistics, in order to discover the in-group variances and confounds or puzzles, that may affect negatively or positively towards the understanding of data gathered.
The research process will be carried out over one academic calendar year, which consists of 4 terms which is made up of an approximate 12 weeks. To begin the experiment the students in each school will be separated into two groups consisting of 12 girls and 12 boys. One group will be the experiment group and the other the control group. At the beginning and completion of each term, each student will complete the KABC-11, the Multiple Intelligences Test, and the BarOn EQ-i:YV test, to evaluate each student's level of intellect and sense of self or well being. The control group will be educated in standard music tuition and standard cognitive development over the 2 weekly lessons. The experiment group will be educated by the special skills teacher through music, focusing on cognitive skills, as well as creative development. Once a month the two groups will be asked to attend separately group facilitated combined interview and counselling sessions, in addition to answering specific closed interview questions to gauge individual perceptions and opinions of personal growth. Teaching staff will also be asked to give feedback regarding their students' progress and their perceptions of how the lessons are benefiting their students.
Ethics is such an important component of any research study as Sanders (2010) suggests that researchers involved in research studies involving human participants must consider the legal, ethical, emotional, physical and psychological aspects. The factors that are vital when undertaking any study consist of, comprehensive consent, confidentiality, health and wellbeing, clear communication, payments, and protection of participants before, during and after the research has been written and published. The participants in the research project will have to volunteer, whether it be the student, the teachers or the researchers, each person must make the decision for themselves without any coercion. Within this parameter consent must be obtained from the parents or main caregiver of all the children involved. Consent must also be obtained from the schools, the research teachers, and the research assistants. The research must be carried out under the premise of doing no harm, be it medical, psychical, or psychological. The researchers will also require any information regarding medical conditions that could possibly be affected or affect the participants or the research. Confidentiality, respect, and anonymity must also maintained throughout the process, in addition to the consideration of the what, where and how the findings and research report will be accessed, exposed, and published in the present and the future. Security surrounding the children, parents, teachers, schools and researchers must also be considered across the timeline of the research including the what, where, and how relating to the information must be addressed. At completion of the research the participants and their parents will need to be debriefed to have understanding of the research parameters and understanding so no harm is felt by either party. Included in the debrief would be explanations regarding who may be able to view material data and how that could occur, in addition to the time frame that information would be available for.
Contributions of the proposed study to the field
This study aims to contribute to the field of psychology and education by demonstrating that creative music tuition and expression is a viable addition to the educational core curriculum for schools around Australia. The main contribution and hypothesis of this study is to demonstrate is that music has the ability to not only benefit cognitive development, but furthermore it has the ability to enhance self-awareness, self-esteem, creativity, as well as psychological well being. Previous research did not give clear connection between cognitive development and psychological development, therefore, as Sigelman & Rider (2009) suggest the research would set out to measure development by implementing a number of scientifically tried and tested methods such as, observing the differences between the control group and the experiment group in action in the classroom. Sigelman & Rider (2009b) go on to explain the importance of experiment groups in testing the developmental progress of children, in such that it is important to establish parameters between natural developmental milestones and additional development discovered from the introduced music tuition.
The researchers propose 1 month to locate, hire, and train the two special music teachers required for the experiment groups, also required is the researchers to undergo extra training in facilitating group and individual counselling sessions. 1 month to trial all tests and computer programs related to the research, including writing questionnaires and interviews and construction of music curriculums for both control and experiment groups. The signing up of participant schools and students will be carried out in the term prior to the study, during which time all appropriate consent and legal documents will be completed, returned and submitted with the appropriate body. The actual research will be carried out over 1 academic year, which consists of 4, 12 week terms. Since each term has a break of 2 weeks, the data collected for each term will be processed and analysed making use of the time to evaluate and restructure where necessary. At the completion of the final stage of research the analysis of data would require 1 month of compiling, evaluating, measuring, and analysing. It would then require 1 month writing, producing the final paper ready to be submitted for publishing. The total timeline proposed for the research study is 16 months.