Music and mathematics : a reciprocal relationship action research with third graders at Cheyenne Elementary School.


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The third graders of Cheyenne Elementary scored lower on state-mandated mathematics assessments than on reading assessments in three of the last seven years. While there was a reading coach on staff for Cheyenne Public Schools, there was not a position dedicated to math intervention to assist the students who scored below grade-level in mathematic skills. Research conducted by Binkiewicz (2006), Gardner (1993), Morrison et al. (2013), Ormrod (2020), Riotta (2016) and Yoho (2011) suggests that learners’ depth of knowledge, knowledge retention, and therefore, knowledge transfer increase when instructors present material and learners apply it through various means. Consequently, this Problem of Practice explored how the school’s music teacher could enhance and thereby increase students’ depth of knowledge and knowledge retention in the areas of geometry and measurement using a curriculum focusing on blending mathematics content with music content. Action research is conducted by teachers who seek to study and improve their own and their school’s instructional practices. Action-based researchers are familiar with the context of the problem at hand. They also personally know their participants. Combining the two factors allows the researcher to be thoroughly involved and engaged in the search to solve the problem (Efron & Ravid, 2020). In this study, I served as the researcher, the curriculum writer, and the educator. Hence, action research proved to be the best course of action. Instruction focused on two specific mathematics objectives, attributes of 3D shapes and elapsed time, because they were the two lowest scores on benchmark assessments administered prior to the study. Along with instruction received in the mathematics classroom, by implementing strategies that infused mathematics content with music content, such as that found in the curriculum Music and Mathematics: A Reciprocal Relationship, the study’s participants experienced an average of an 8% increase in benchmark scores for attributes of 3D shapes and a 21% increase for elapsed time. Moreover, the entire class experienced increases in mathematics success.



Higher-order thinking skills. Increased standardized test scores. Knowledge retention. Mathematics education. Music education. Music instruction correlated to core academics. Music and mathematics instruction combined. Teaching math and music together. Teaching math for understanding.