The reciprocal relationship between text literacy and music literacy among beginning band students
Carroll, David Lawson
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This dissertation examines the reciprocal relationship between text literacy and music literacy through an experimental design. Music teachers and English Language Arts (ELA) teachers often address similar components of literacy, including fluency, comprehension, and symbolic interpretation. The theory of cognitive structuralism maintains that through derivative and correlative subsumption, material that is learned in one context is strengthened when applied in a disparate context. Therefore, ELA and music teachers who work in isolation are missing an opportunity to teach parallel literacy concepts for the common advantage of teachers and students. This study seeks to explain how students enrolled in conventional and literacy-enriched band environments perform better than non-band students on text literacy tests. It also asks if conventional band students differ from literacy-enriched band students on text and musical literacy tests. Fourth-grade students were randomly assigned to one of three groups: a control group (n = 11), a conventionally taught beginning band group (n = 11), and a literacy-enriched beginning band group (n = 10). The experimental treatment included 14 small group band lessons and 14 full band rehearsals. Groups were then compared for textual literacy growth using the NWEA Measures of Academic Performance (MAP) and musical growth using the Watkins Farnum Performance Scale (WFPS). ANCOVA planned contrasts showed that literacy-enriched students significantly outperformed conventional band students and control students on the MAP literature reading subtest. The research design allowed for the defense of literacy-enriched band instruction as a generalizable cause of higher literacy scores. Additional comparisons between the control group and the two experimental groups revealed no statistically significant differences between the group means on the overall reading scores or the remaining reading subtest scores. The lack of significance suggested that the statistical model was a poor fit for the data. Furthermore, a small sample size and large unexplained variance contributed to a lack of statistical power. Therefore, the application of the cognitive structuralist theory on the remaining MAP reading tests remained inconclusive. The conventional and literacy-enriched band groups were also compared against each other on text and music literacy growth. There were no statistically significant differences between the conventional group and literacy-enriched group on the MAP or on the WFPS. This suggested that literacy-enriched instruction in band could benefit a student's textual literacy skills without compromising musical performance goals. It also suggested that more study is needed to determine the extent to which the explicit instruction of ELA reading skills in band may benefit musical ability. The overall findings implied that literacy-enriched band instruction caused higher textual literacy scores, and the results may be generalized to similar circumstances. Suggestions for practice included increased collaboration among teachers, enhanced teacher pre-service and in-service opportunities, additional use of student-centered progressive instructional strategies, and the careful reconsideration of eliminating or reducing the availability of band to students. Future research would benefit from the quantitative and qualitative models proposed herein.