Can the use of Alphamusic in humanities lessons improve the behaviour and academic performance of adolescent boys with behavioural difficulties?
This paper aims to investigate whether there are practical uses for
music in humanities lessons, particularly in reference to boys with
behavioural difficulties. It begins by considering the extensive amount
of research that has been done on the subject of background music and
its uses in schools and the workplace as both an aid to concentration
and a tool in the reduction of stress. The research brings up a number
of questions about the nature of Alphamusic and whether or not it can
affect behaviour and concentration.
I observed ten lessons; the first five lessons without any background
music, recording the children on camera. The second five with Levine′s
Alphamusic playing. This study was undertaken at a normal Comprehensive
school using 10 year eight (12-13 yrs old) boys who were identified as
having behavioural and emotional difficulties. The results showed that
there was a significant reduction in off-task activity in the lessons
where the Alphamusic was playing. The boys were also given two grid
reference tests, and performed significantly better on the test where
the Alphamusic was playing. Finally, the subjects were given a
questionnaire to complete about how they completed their homework and
whether or not they preferred to work with music in the background.
The results also showed a significant decrease in external types of
off task behaviour, from what I termed ‘distracting’ behaviour. The
results show that the pupils off-task activity decreased in the lessons
where Levine′s Alphamusic was playing in the background, falling by an
average 664 instances, significant to a value of p=0.05, [ 61.4%]. This
can be further broken down into further definitions of ‘distracting’
off-task activity, which showed that instances of impulsiveness,
hyperactivity and talking decreased, significant to p=0.05, p
Average Impulsiveness reduced by 71.6%.
Average Hyperactivity reduced by 46%.
Average Talking reduced by 87.2%.
In terms of test results, the number of questions attempted by the
participants increased by an average 2.9 questions, significant to a
value of p
The results do seem to show some visible trends which would lead us to
make various deductions. Firstly, the lessons which were accompanied by
Levine′s Alphamusic had significantly fewer instances of off-task
activity. Although a longer study is required to further explore these
results, it is highly unlikely that such a change in behaviour would
have occurred by chance. This change could be due to a number of
factors, all of which are suggested by the literature:
a) This music affects mood, which leads to increased productivity;
b) the music masks extraneous auditory stimuli and thus allows the participants to concentrate;
c) the music adds further stimulation and is thus an aid to concentration;
d) the music affects the subjects physiologically, reducing stress levels and increasing concentration.
The results also showed that the pupils behaviour improved by a
significant reduction in being less ‘distracting’ (hyperactive, talking
or impulsive behaviour) to being mostly ‘disengaged’. This would suggest
that the Alphamusic may have had enough of an effect on the pupils’
concentration to help them to return to their allotted task instead of
disrupting each other. Finally, those pupils who said in their
questionnaires that they were more used to listening to music or the
television at home but were not identified as ‘low ability’ made the
largest improvement in behaviour, suggesting that Alphamusic helped them
to realise their potential. Whatever the reasons, the area of
background Alphamusic in the classroom is certainly an interesting one
which has the potential to be of assistance to the classroom teacher.
Report prepared by Rob Bridgman 2005,
Graph 1: Instances of off-task activity with and without background
Graph 2: Questions attempted with and without music
Graph 3: Correct answers with and without music