Dorfman, Jay

Learning Music with Technology: The Influence of Learning Style, Prior Experiences, and Two Learning Conditions on Success With a Music Technology Task
The purpose of this study was to investigate the influence of individual learning styles, music experience, technology experience, music technology experience, and varied learning conditions on participants’ achievement with a music technology task. In phase one of the study, high school students from four Midwest high schools ( N = 94) were surveyed about their music experience, general technology experience, and music technology experience using a researcher-designed instrument. The participants also completed the Gregorc Style Delineator, a self-assessment instrument designed to measure dominant learning style characteristics. In phase two of the study, the participants learned to operate music notation software ( Sibelius ) using one of two learning conditions to which they were randomly assigned: unguided experimentation, or guided learning using a researcher-designed video tutorial. In phase three, the participants completed a timed task with the notation software, the results of which were scored to produce the dependent variable.

Data were analyzed using a five-way analysis of variance in which the effects of the five independent variables (music experience, general technology experience, music technology experience, learning style, and learning condition) on the achievement score were measured. Analysis revealed that none of the main effects or interactions between variable reached statistical significance. Further analysis of sub-scores for specific tasks within the larger set of tasks did vary significantly between learning styles, with the Abstract Random learning style providing particularly disparate scores.

Conclusions from this study focus on the design of Sibelius as an example of music software that is appropriate for educational applications for students with varied learning styles and levels of experience. The results may be attributed to psychometric and practical limitations of the Gregorc Style Delineator, as well as limitations in time for completion of the activities, and diversity of the sample. Suggestions for further research are offered that include the investigation of gender as a variable in achievement with music technology, as well as physical design of the lab environment and diversification of the sample.

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