Thursday, 16 June 2016

Teaching with music videos might improve learning

As covered in, a new paper published in the International Journal of Science Education (sorry I don't see an ungated version anywhere) by Gregory Crowther (University of Washington), Tom McFadden and Jean Fleming (both University of Otago), and Katie Davis (University of Washington) looks at whether science learning can be facilitated through using music videos. It probably isn't much of a stretch to suggest that if it works for science, it would probably work for economics as well.

Crowther et al. conducted three experiments. In the first experiment, they had 568 volunteers at STEM outreach events in the U.S. complete a short test, then watch a short science-related music video, then complete a post-test. Here's what they found:
Overall, 13 of the 15 science music videos led to statistically significant gains in student test performance. These gains were found across all age groups and for both male and female students. Moreover, students improved their scores on the more complex ‘comprehension’ questions as well as the straight ‘knowledge’ questions. Scores on the unrelated ‘bonus’ questions did not show any change, suggesting that the gains were attributable to watching the science music video rather than simply the repetition of the question.
So, the music videos led to robust immediate gains in science knowledge, and suggested some deeper learning (since 'comprehension' questions require a bit more thinking than simple 'knowledge' questions).

In the second experiment, they completed a similar exercise comparing music videos and non-music videos in a separate sample of 403 volunteers, again at U.S. STEM outreach events. Unfortunately this second experiment only had a post-test, and no pre-test, so gains in science knowledge cannot be tested. However, assuming perfect randomisation between the music video treatment and the non-music-video treatment, it probably isn't too serious of an issue. In this experiment they found:
Test scores were similar after musical and non-musical videos, with or without intervening ‘distractor videos’... Thus the modality of the video (musical or non-musical) did not strongly impact short-term test performance.
Right. So maybe it's simply watching videos, rather than watching music videos, that provides gains in science knowledge.

In the third experiment, they used a single music video (this one) to test whether the gains were persistent. In this experiment they compared a music video [MUSIC] with a non-music video [FACTS] (with both a pre-test and post-test so they can measure gains in science knowledge) for students in two Dunedin schools, but also included a further post-test 28 days after the students watched the video. Here's what they found:
Students in both the MUSIC and FACTS groups showed statistically significant pre-test to post-test gains. Though the FACTS group showed possibly greater immediate improvements than the MUSIC group, their gains appeared to be short-lived, whereas the MUSIC group tended to maintain their post-test improvements for 28 days.
The gains only persisted in the group that was shown the music video. Furthermore, the students shown the music video enjoyed their video more than the other group.

What should we take away from this? In teaching economics, perhaps there is something to be said for making more use of alternatives to chalk-and-talk lectures. As we do at Waikato, in ECON100 and ECON110 especially. Maybe we should make more use of music videos. Can I suggest someone starts by making a video for this song?

[HT: eSocSci]

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