STEM Music Videos Help Students Learn
April 8, 2014

STEM Music Videos Help Students Learn

Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) are all disciplines that need interested students and participants. Without these, we would not have the developments and discoveries we do today including technology like the iPad I am writing this article on, down to the medicine and treatment plans available for illnesses and diseases, both minor and major. However, the STEM disciplines find themselves struggling for good participants, especially good female participants. Thus, current researchers and scientists are looking into ways to perk up interest.

According to one redOrbit article, two researchers, Katie Davis and Greg Crowther, at the University of Washington studied just how effective music videos are at impacting interest as well as enhancing student’s understanding of the STEM themes. About 10 years ago, Crowther created a website with about 7,000 science and math themed songs. It is called, and teachers simply type in a topic to find music relevant to the subject they teach. Obviously, Crowther’s interest in how music can draw in students and learners started a long time ago.

To see how science- and math-themed music videos enhance student’s interest, the study did the following:

“In the current study, the researchers set up laptop computers at five science-related outreach events in Washington state. Participants, who ranged in age from 3 to 76 years old, with a median age of 12, sat in front of a laptop and selected a science-based music video to watch.

Participants took a pre-video quiz of four questions related to information in the video, plus a bonus question not covered by the video, and were asked to rate their confidence in their answers.

They were then randomly assigned to watch either a visually rich music video, or one that showed only the lyrics on screen. After viewing the video, they took a post-video quiz that included the same content and confidence questions.”

The results showed marked improvement in the post-video quiz scores. In fact, scores rose by an average of one additional correct answer after viewing the video, and it did not matter if it was a lyrics-only video or a visually rich video. Scores improved with both. The scores improved in the fact questions as well as the complex comprehension questions.

Crowther and Davis do not claim that this is the only way to learn science; rather, what they say is that this is another method, another tool, that will help students learn about STEM and possibly draw them to the discipline.

This makes sense because we learn in many ways. Time and again, the STEM classes that students enjoy the most are those that are more interactive and lab-based over the lecture classes. In the former classes, the students become the lab scientist, techie, or whatever. Even in math classes where students see math in action do they enjoy the subject more. There is just something about the doing in STEM classes that is so engaging. Perhaps it is the interactive, kinetic learning technique. Sure, we have our primary learning styles, but sometimes we need to learn in a different way for different subjects.

What Davis and Crowther found is another way to really engage students in the STEM classes by incorporating art in the form of music and videos. This engages both the scientific and analytical sides of the brain as well as the creative, and the more engaged we are in something, the more we learn and retain information. I know I will be sharing this redOrbit article with my math and science colleagues at the college. Perhaps it will help some readers to better find interest in the STEM disciplines.

Image Credit: Thinkstock

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Rayshell E. Clapper is an Associate Professor of English at a rural college in Oklahoma where she teaches Creative Writing, Literature, and Composition classes. She has presented her original fiction and non-fiction at several conferences and events including: Scissortail Creative Writing Festival, Howlers and Yawpers Creativity Symposium, Southwest/Texas Pop Culture Association/American Culture Association Regional Conference, and Pop Culture Association/American Culture Association National Conference. Her publications include Cybersoleil Journal, Sugar Mule Literary Magazine, Red Dirt Anthology, Originals, and Oklahoma English Journal. Beyond her written works, she successfully created a writer's group in rural Oklahoma to support burgeoning writers. The written word is her passion, and all she experiences inspires that passion. She hopes to help inspire others through her words.

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