Date of Award

5-2007

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science in Education (MSEd)

Department

Education and Human Development

Abstract

Today’s economic constraints mean tighter budgets and lowered staffing which in turn causes school districts to make difficult choices pertaining to arts programs. Utilizing music in an academic core curriculum has been argued as not only an opportunity that allows arts integration in the classroom but has revealed a direct correlation to increased student interest and academic success. The purpose of this study explores whether music can be used in a first-grade classroom to help students understand, enjoy, remember and apply certain mathematical concepts. The literature review section of this project examines research studies conducted in classrooms that highlight the importance of the arts when used in collaboration with other subjects. The discussion also looks at research and evaluation of brain function and the role that music plays on the brain. Lastly, it reviews and lists ways that music is used to enhance learning in elementary classrooms. The thesis project specifically examines and compares traditional methods of teaching math versus integrating content and methods involving math and music. The study focuses on the conceptual content use of patterns since they can be easily found in both music and math. The project goal was not only mathematic comprehension but student engagement to increase course interest and aptitude.

This study was conducted at an elementary performing arts magnet school within an urban school district in Western New York State. Pre-test results reveal that the eight first-grade study participants selected were all struggling with the pattern lesson. Pre and post-testing was used as well as student journals. The study integrated the school district’s math curriculum with parts of the music curriculum to create New York State Standards based lesson plans that teach math concepts. The study suggests that the integration of the subjects, math and music, would assist student understanding of mathematical concepts and consequently improve their math test scores. Research conclusions support the argument that the incorporation of music in mathematics instruction increases student success and engagement. (Lesson plans and student worksheets are included in the Appendices sections of this project.)

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