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Study and music; a promising combination

George Hammond-Hagan, founder of Studytracks, explains how edtech is improving the study methods of today's students

Posted by Hannah Oakman | September 30, 2016 | Technology

In the past, classrooms have rigorously followed a ‘sage on the stage’ model, whereby a teacher stands in front of a class and shares information with their students, who are frantically jotting down notes to revise from. As such, studying has been limited to reading these notes and recalling the information verbally or through writing to test themselves. Music would certainly not have been considered a revision resource. However, following the introduction of new and innovative ways of teaching and learning, and the development of some well-established resources, revision methods are becoming more engaging for students. Highlighters are a good example of this–  students enjoy highlighting important information using the neon pens as a way of breaking down learning material into the key elements. The pen has evolved significantly over the decades, with students now able to use electronic pens to highlight information on a tablet device.

The era of technological development has meant that the opportunities and resources available have never been greater, or more diverse; laptops, computers and tablet devices enable today’s students to access revision websites, mock tests, virtual tutors and other tools to aid studying. Most young people today also own a smartphone, and because of this the emergence of apps has been staggering, with Apple announcing in 2014 that it had over 1.2 million products in its iOS Store. The education apps available to students are incredibly diverse, ranging from mind maps and revision plans creators, to apps that allow them to listen to revision material and test their knowledge.

When it comes to revision, listening to music can be beneficial. A study at the University of Wales found that students’ recall ability wasn’t negatively affected when listening to their favourite music genre whilst studying. A lot of students enjoy listening to music while revising and makes their revision more bearable. Moreover, memorising song lyrics is very easy. What if music and studying could work in harmony to help boost students’ exam success?

We can often remember the words to songs because the lyrics, or “hooks”, have entered our memory making it easy to recall the words as soon as the beats hits our ears. So if we take this premise and apply revision information to music tracks, then it follows suit that the information is likely to remain in the student’s memory, just as lyrics do. And newly developed edtech resources such as Studytracks will allow students to utilise this idea.

James Cartmell, a GCSE student from Lancashire who listened to songs containing revision lyrics for his exams, says, “The lyrics repeat the words over and over again… so it gets you to remember the content. In exams, you can think back and remember the songs, rather than the boring pages of a textbook.”

He continues, “I hated history… but being able to listen to history revision material as lyrics bought topics back to life. When it came to exams, I actually felt like I performed my best in history.”

When we’re excited about something, we’re more motivated, and education resources need to reflect this notion. Students like listening to music when revising because it helps to ‘get them in the zone’. New resources can help pupils take their enjoyment of music to the next level and consider merging revision with musical “hooks”. With the help of these new technologies, studying can be more engaging and hopefully we will see more students achieving the grades they’re capable of.

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