Theses Doctoral

Video game technology and learning in the music classroom

Lesser, Andrew John

Game-based learning, or the process of adapting an educational concept into a game-based structure, has been studied by researchers for nearly a century. Over the last several decades, new technologies have allowed digital media to create a multibillion- dollar entertainment industry commonly known as video games. Video games have become a tool for many educators who have the potential to engage and motivate students to learn in various subjects and disciplines.
The purpose of this study was to determine the effectiveness of digital game-based learning in comparison to other teaching methods as related to music education and to explore the perspectives of young students regarding video games both in school and in their personal lives. Ninety-two (n = 92) fifth and sixth grade students in a northeastern U.S. elementary school completed a mixed-method experimental study consisting of a pretest/posttest control group, surveys, and in-depth interviews.
Results showed that students who had access to educational video games combined with the assistance of an instructor achieved higher mean scores compared with students who had access to either video games without instruction or instruction without video games. Survey and interview data suggested that students enjoyed playing video games on a regular basis for reasons such as enjoyment, socialization, and distraction. The majority of respondents believed that video games can and should be used in educational practices, including music education, but current educational games are inadequate because they do not possess the qualities of entertainment that are inherent in commercially designed games.
These findings suggested that educational video games may be potentially used as an effective tool in the music classroom to teach musical concepts and skills. In addition, benefits may also include increased student motivation, engagement, and a hands-on approach to learning that is based on the students’ individual needs. However, it may be necessary for video games to be used in combination with a qualified teacher to prevent confusion, distraction, and possible frustration. Pairing quality instruction with engaging technology that is relevant in children’s lives may be highly beneficial for the continued development of music education.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Arts and Humanities
Thesis Advisors
Abeles, Harold F.
Ed.D., Teachers College, Columbia University
Published Here
March 1, 2019