Teaching and learning science through song
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This qualitative, multi-case study explored the use of science-content music for teaching and learning in six middle school science classrooms. The researcher sought to understand how teachers made use of content-rich songs for teaching science, how they impacted student engagement and learning, and what the experiences of these teachers and students suggested about using songs for middle-school classroom science instruction. Six teachers who volunteered to participate in this study and their students, from three suburban middle schools in Georgia, were included in the study. Data gathered included three teacher interviews, one classroom observation and a student focus-group discussion from each case. The data from each unit of analysis were examined independently then synthesized in a multi-case analysis, resulting in a number of merged findings, or assertions, about the experience. The results of this study indicated that teachers used content-rich music to enhance student understanding of concepts in science by developing content-based vocabulary, providing students with alternative examples and explanations of concepts, and as a sense-making experience to help build conceptual understanding. These students overwhelmingly found that their teachers’ use of science-content songs engaged them by providing both situational and personal interest, and as a mnemonic device for remembering key concepts in science. The use of songs has relevance from a constructivist approach as they were used to help students build meaning; from a socio-cultural perspective in terms of student engagement; and from a cognitive viewpoint in that in these cases they helped students make connections in learning. Of interest is the difference in how teachers and students saw the purposes for learning in science, based on how songs were used for teaching and learning science in this study. The results of this research have implications for science teachers and the science education community in developing new instructional strategies for the middle school science classroom.