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Does Singing Help Us Retain Information?

based on 21 ratings
Author: Shelly Smith

Grade Level: 4th to 5th; Type: Cognitive Science

Objective:

Discover if singing helps us to remember information.

Research Questions:

  • How well do test subjects remember words on a spoken list?
  • How well do test subjects remember words in a song?
  • Is there a significantly higher rate of retention when the words are sung?

People learn in many different ways. In almost all cultures and throughout history, people have used music and song as teaching and memory tools. The musical learning style is especially popular with young children. This project explores whether singing rather than simply speaking a set of information improves a person’s ability to retain it.

Materials:

  • A list of words, spoken and set to a well-known tune. An example follows, but you may have fun coming up with your own.
  • Paper and pencil to record results.
  • At least 40 test subjects.

SAMPLE SONG (sung to the tune of London Bridges): carrot, cabbage, Brussels sprout, artichoke, cucumber, parsnip, lettuce, lima bean, rutabaga.

Experimental Procedure:

  1. Divide your test subjects into two groups.
  2. With the first group, read the list of words out loud to the test subject using a normal speaking voice, then ask the subject to repeat back to you as many of the words as she can. Record the number of words remembered.
  3. With the second group, sing the list of words out loud to the test subject, then ask the subject to sing back to you as much of the song as she can. Record the number of words remembered.
  4. Analyze your results. Were the test subjects in the singing group more successful at remembering the words than those in the speaking group?

Terms/Concepts: musical learning style, retention

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