Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

In concert: The relationship between middle school formal music instruction and adolescent algebra achievement
by Helmrich, Barbara H., Ph.D., College of Notre Dame of Maryland, 2008, 262; 3302711
Abstract (Summary)

The purpose of this study was to determine whether the formal music instruction one encounters during middle school affects adolescent algebra achievement. Recent research has suggested that studying instrumental music enhances academic achievement, particularly in mathematics. Additional research has indicated that musicians process music in the same cortical regions as adolescents process algebra. This study suggests that participation in formal music instruction during middle school can strengthen the connections in those cortical regions. Synaptogenesis might present a window of opportunity during early adolescence for music to create and strengthen neural connections that persist for years. Therefore, formal music instruction during grades 6-8 might affect a student’s success in introductory algebra. The sample consisted of 6,026 adolescent students who participated in instrumental, choral, or neither of those classes during middle school. Findings suggested that instrumental music instruction most affected algebra achievement; choral instruction affected scores to a lesser extent. Pairwise comparisons indicated significant differences between the mean scores of instrumental and neither (13.34, p < .001), instrumental and choral (9.52, p < .001), and choral and neither groups (3.82, p < .001). This study also explored whether the relationship between formal music instruction and algebra achievement might help narrow the achievement gap evident on the assessment. Results indicated a significant mean difference between African-American choral and neither groups (9.39, p < .001). The mean difference between the African-American instrumental and neither groups was the largest found between any two comparison groups (18.87, p < .001).

Indexing (document details)
School: College of Notre Dame of Maryland
School Location: United States -- Maryland
Source: DAI-A 69/02, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Mathematics education, Music education
Keywords: Achievement, Adolescence, Algebra, Choral instruction, Instrumental instruction, Mathematics achievement, Middle school, Music instruction
Publication Number: 3302711
ISBN: 9780549486350
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