Extended music education enhances quality of school life
There is more to school music education than is readily apparent. A study in Finland found that an extended music education program, one which provides extra-curricular music experiences, enhanced the overall quality of school life for those students who were involved.
These differences in quality of school life existed only for music programs and similar results are not found for other extended programs of visual art and sports. This places music education programs within school in a unique position to enhance the quality of school life for many students. The benefit in school life for students within extended music programs is found in social dimensions, such as general satisfaction, sense of achievement, and opportunity for students.
The important of non-academic Successes
In an area where STEM subjects gain most of the attention and research, it is important to understand and value the aspects of music education programs within schools which contribute to positive outcomes for students. A positive outcome for students need not be an academic achievement. Perhaps far greater successes for students are those not tied to examination results and achievements grades. These non-academic successes can be the development of effective social skills, improved engagement in school activities, improved commitment, positive attitude and social cohesion. Music actives can confer social benefits and improve the quality of school life for students. It can be considered an argument for the improvement academic success, it requires a solid foundation of quality of school life.
Prior to this study, the links between social benefits an music education in the classroom has had little study. In Finland, Extended music classes are available for students. This system offers a unique situation to study the effects of an extended music program. It allows for the study of transfer effects of music education in a natural setting.
Measurable positive social benefits
The results found students in extended music classes create measurable positive social benefits for students. This is found when compared alongside normal music education classes in comprehensive schools. Students in extended music classes were more satisfied with school life than students in classes with a normal music education curriculum. Interestingly, classroom climate of extended music classes are viewed as much more positive in comparison to other extended classes of sports and arts. Gender differences and prior music experience could not account for these observed differences.
One caveat is that students in the extended music classes are not a random sample allocation. Students in these classes made a deliberate choice. Some selection bias may be present in the sample used for this study.
Students satisfaction is a non-trivial matter
Student satisfaction and quality of school life is an important and non-trivial issue. School satisfaction is known to drop dramatically in secondary schooling as students get older. An understanding of factors influential in quality of school like, such as music education, is worth further investigation.
Eerola, P.-S., & Eerola, T. (2013). Extended music education enhances the quality of school life. Music Education Research, 16(1), 88-104.
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