Music lessons from a tablet computer: the effect of incorporating a touchscreen device in teaching music staff notation to students with dyslexia
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The purpose of this study was to examine the effectiveness of a software application for guided practice on a tablet computer used as a multisensory instructional tool in the process of teaching music staff notation to students who have dyslexia. Between 15 to 20% of people in the United States may have dyslexia or related learning differences in the form of difficulties with reading and language processing. Having dyslexia does not preclude engagement in playing music; however, evidence shows students with dyslexia often have trouble learning how to read music notation (Ganschow, Lloyd-Jones & Miles, 1994; Miles & Westcombe, 2004; Stewart, 2008). Technology, specifically the tablet computer, has potential to address individual needs of students in the domain of music; a variety of applications have been created for teaching and practicing the recognition of musical notation. The theoretical framework underlying the study was based on two theories related to the learning process of students with dyslexia: the phonological deficit and the dyslexia automatization deficit theories. A quasi-experimental design was employed using intact classes of third, fourth, and fifth grade students (N=72) who attended an academy for students with dyslexia. The students were taught a series of lessons on reading music staff notation for seven weeks. The same teacher taught all classes. The treatment classes were given time for the guided-practice of music staff notation on the tablet; the control classes used the tablets for the same amount of time with other music applications, but were not given access to the specific treatment program. Data used to tabulate results of the study were collected with the use of pre and posttests of music staff notation recognition. The overall conclusion was that the use of the tablet for guided-practice in conjunction with instruction was significantly more effective at increasing the ability of students to recognize musical staff notation than using instruction alone.