Are you a student that likes to listen to music while studying? If you take a stroll through the library, you will see many students with their headphones in. Although some may think it is beneficial, others may find it distracting to listen to music while studying and or doing work. So the question is, does listening to music while studying provide any benefit?
To figure this out I began my search for experiments that involved activities comparing sound and no sound. I then came across a study done at the University of Whales on how background music affects students ability to remember items in a specific order. The study involved 25 students between the ages of 18 and 30. They controlled for several confounding variables such as hearing, vision and language through a screening process. They also did not include those who listed their favorite type of music as ‘thrash metal’.
The study tested the student’s abilities to remember a series of consonants presented through a power point slide while being exposed to different types of sound variations. The different types of sound variations included a quiet environment, a ‘steady state’ speech where the number three was repeated, a ‘changing state’ speech where random numbers between one and nine were repeated, liked music and lastly disliked music. In my opinion having all five of these different states is very useful data. Cause not only will it provide data on whether or not music makes a difference, it will show whether having background noise could be potentially beneficial or not.
The results you may find surprising if you personally prefer studying with music. The study found that the ‘steady state’ speech and the quiet environment produced statistically higher results when compared to the other three groups. Meaning that under those two environments they were able to recall more during the testing.
Does this mean that you should stop listening to music while studying? Not exactly. Until more research is done and meta-analyses are done of all experiments it is quite unsure what the answer is. Another important fact to consider in this research is the effect of music with lyrics and types of music such as classical which is all instrumental based.
In a study conducted at the University of Maryland they used a sample of 32 students between the age of 20 to 41. Of the twenty-five were females and seven were males which to me does not seem like a good representation in my opinion. They used a song that called “Not Ready to Die,” a heavy rock song, and a classical piano song called “Morning Light.”
The experiment called for the students to perform cognitive tests under five conditions. The control being no music and the other being the heavy rock song and classical song played at both low and high intensity. In conclusion the study found that performance was much better in silence than any of the four music conditions (p<.05). Surprisingly to me however, there was no significant difference between the two songs in the loud music condition (p=.582). This is most likely because loud music should not be used when studying or performing tests.
Overall I still find this toping very intriguing. Although I will most likely continue to study in complete silence. I am interested to see if in further testing will find that certain types of music can help benefit my learning. I believe that a lot of testing is required to determine a true result on this topic due to the many potential confounding variables at play such as IQ. Only experimentation will tell us what the true answer is.
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