Understanding the Experiences of Writing with Background Music: A Phenomenological Study
Listening to music while studying is common among college students. Previous quantitative research indicated that the influence of background music on cognition varies depending on features or characteristics of music, tasks, and individuals. Although college students have writing tasks frequently in their courses, there is little research on writing with background music. This phenomenological study explored the college students’ experience of listening to music while writing. Five themes revealed the preferred music for writing, contexts and habits, types of writing, conditions for listening, and perceived impact of the music. The findings can help educators use music in educational settings.
Acknowledge: Thank Dr. Wayne Babchuk for guiding my research. I appreciate the comments and feedback from students in EDPS 935 during the 2020 fall semester.
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[00:00:01.740]My study is about understanding the experiences
[00:00:04.860]of writing with background music.
[00:00:06.900]So it's a phenomenological study.
[00:00:09.790]I'm interested in this topic
[00:00:11.530]because writing with background music
[00:00:13.380]is very common among college students.
[00:00:16.280]So here is a quick literature review.
[00:00:19.700]The impact of background music on cognitive performance
[00:00:23.120]is mainly based on the features of music,
[00:00:27.230]different tasks and characteristics of individuals.
[00:00:31.150]Some studies have checked writing with background music.
[00:00:35.130]Most of them find the there might be a disruptive effect
[00:00:39.280]such as decrease the speed of writing
[00:00:42.450]but it might have some calming effect,
[00:00:44.860]which helps people to be more focused
[00:00:47.440]and have fun, enjoy writing.
[00:00:51.330]So there's only a few study have checked the writing tasks
[00:00:55.280]with background music
[00:00:56.720]and those are all quantitative studies.
[00:00:59.690]I'd like to fill this gap by doing a qualitative study,
[00:01:04.340]to look at this phenomenon.
[00:01:06.629]So my current study will use a phenomenological approach
[00:01:11.620]to check the lived experience of a phenomenon.
[00:01:14.730]Specifically, I choose to use IPA.
[00:01:18.200]And this is an approach that emphasizes interpretation.
[00:01:21.860]So the double hermeneutic here is
[00:01:25.220]I would interpret
[00:01:26.430]what the interpretation of my participants have.
[00:01:31.410]And also it's highly ideographic, which means
[00:01:36.090]I will show the details of each case of my sample.
[00:01:41.170]My central question is how college students perceive
[00:01:44.350]their experience when they write with background music.
[00:01:47.750]And their emotional reactions
[00:01:50.510]and how they perceive the impact of music.
[00:01:54.700]I did the study by doing interviews.
[00:01:58.370]So I will use,
[00:01:59.730]I used emails to recruit students
[00:02:04.080]from psychology class,
[00:02:06.320]and they represent different genders,
[00:02:08.540]majors and grade levels.
[00:02:10.590]So if you're interested,
[00:02:11.640]you can look at my survey questions here.
[00:02:14.780]I used semi-structured interviews
[00:02:18.160]to have online interview
[00:02:21.210]and last 30 minutes to an hour.
[00:02:24.660]It has been recorded
[00:02:25.820]so that I can read the transcripts,
[00:02:28.730]do the coding, find themes.
[00:02:31.200]Generate super-ordinate themes based on the emerging themes.
[00:02:35.600]And after I check each case,
[00:02:38.180]I will find the patterns across cases.
[00:02:41.660]So here I present my detailed interview questions.
[00:02:46.440]So you can pause to look at them if you're interested.
[00:02:50.860]To achieve a better validity I use triangulation,
[00:02:55.360]number checking, bracketing and peer examination.
[00:02:59.150]So I have to focus my results for longer time
[00:03:03.630]'cause I have five super-ordinate themes
[00:03:07.980]and I will show them in detail.
[00:03:12.010]the preferred music for writing you can see
[00:03:15.020]it varies based on different individual preference
[00:03:18.590]but in general, a pattern here
[00:03:21.490]some of them prefer upbeat,
[00:03:24.182]fast, loud music
[00:03:28.320]so like rock.
[00:03:29.910]And some prefer the chill, calming, peaceful
[00:03:35.150]shown in blue color.
[00:03:37.430]And there is one says,
[00:03:38.940]she prefers something kind of in the middle.
[00:03:45.350]For what they listen to,
[00:03:47.450]they usually have their own playlist.
[00:03:50.760]It can be something generated by a software
[00:03:53.940]or they collect it by themselves.
[00:03:56.700]And they know the song
[00:03:58.270]from their friends or from the software.
[00:04:02.930]So the software they use most commonly is Spotify
[00:04:06.070]but others, different ones are used.
[00:04:09.040]They usually have a preference
[00:04:10.620]for using either phone or computer.
[00:04:13.260]Usually they will shuffle a playlist.
[00:04:15.790]And they might have a preference
[00:04:17.770]of using headphones or speaker based on location.
[00:04:23.600]And in the green color you can see,
[00:04:26.640]most of the students that I interviewed,
[00:04:29.410]they've liked to listen to music for fun.
[00:04:32.780]Which means they listen to music at other times as well.
[00:04:36.770]And there's also people who only listen to music,
[00:04:41.230]while writing or studying.
[00:04:44.890]And about other contexts and habits,
[00:04:48.380]some students start from high school or college
[00:04:52.440]and it's mainly based on the availability of the music
[00:04:58.410]and the time as well.
[00:05:02.720]The types of writing, you can imagine,
[00:05:06.370]they will all have essays from course assignments.
[00:05:10.430]An interesting finding here,
[00:05:13.320]if some people prefer writing,
[00:05:15.823]that they enjoy writing shown in the green color,
[00:05:19.070]there have another type of writing that they work on.
[00:05:22.130]Such as journals or interactive novels.
[00:05:26.470]And the people who only do essays surely don't
[00:05:30.310]like writing that much.
[00:05:33.300]And for conditions for listening,
[00:05:35.420]which means when they want to listen to music while writing,
[00:05:39.200]some people only use music for larger assignments
[00:05:43.320]which means they stay there for longer time.
[00:05:46.070]And other people just listen to the music all the time.
[00:05:49.550]And most people will start from the very beginning
[00:05:52.300]of the writing,
[00:05:53.450]but some will start later in the middle.
[00:05:56.834]Another pattern is that some people will stop
[00:05:59.700]or pause as they are going
[00:06:02.630]to focus more as they write.
[00:06:07.550]For the evaluating impact,
[00:06:10.940]people usually state several benefits
[00:06:14.580]of having music there.
[00:06:17.180]Three people will say it improves their creativity.
[00:06:23.350]Many people say it's motivational for keep doing it
[00:06:27.060]or finish something.
[00:06:29.450]One important common perspective is that,
[00:06:33.910]music help people to be more focused
[00:06:36.270]and reduce the distractions outside.
[00:06:40.880]Most people will say they have a positive
[00:06:43.820]and happy feeling with the music.
[00:06:46.540]And it also reduces some negative feelings such as boredom,
[00:06:51.360]stress or loneliness.
[00:06:55.970]As music has lyrics,
[00:06:58.110]some people say that the lyrics help them
[00:07:01.020]to see music as motivational or helpful.
[00:07:05.580]And when they talk about negative impact,
[00:07:08.130]they can see sometimes it is destructive
[00:07:11.700]but they will avoid the songs
[00:07:13.840]or music that is distracting.
[00:07:15.880]So as they develop this habit more
[00:07:19.250]they can choose the music that help them
[00:07:21.620]to be focused in general.
[00:07:24.210]And for quality,
[00:07:26.260]surprisingly most people say not clear,
[00:07:30.955]some people said improve the quality.
[00:07:34.480]For discussion, I confirm that,
[00:07:38.360]people might have positive attitudes
[00:07:40.270]toward music for doing tasks.
[00:07:43.060]And it might have benefits for reduce boredom
[00:07:46.880]anxiety and improve focus.
[00:07:52.630]The strength is that it reveals different perspectives
[00:07:56.220]and some common perspectives.
[00:07:59.470]So it shows more things than quantitative studies
[00:08:03.860]but the limitation is that it's not a saturated sample.
[00:08:07.300]So future studies can
[00:08:09.290]can use a ground theory approach.
[00:08:13.220]Finally, the implication is to use the information
[00:08:17.300]from the study to use music in educationl setting
[00:08:21.300]and future studies can also check the experience
[00:08:24.410]of doing other tasks with music.
[00:08:28.970]So that's all about my presentations.
[00:08:31.270]Thanks for listening.
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