Date of Award

2001

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts Honours

Faculty

Faculty of Communication, Health and Science

First Advisor

Mark McMahon

Abstract

This study was conducted to find out what features of interactive multimedia elements best engage children between the ages of 8 and 12 in the process of learning music theory. Previous research into similar areas has indicated that multimedia technologies, such as CD-ROM, arc advantageous in teaching musical theory. A commercially available software application, Musicolour, that uses multimedia delivery of musical theory lessons, was analysed to identify the elements that the students found motivating. These features included the use of a combination of audio cues, graphical cues and interactivity. The findings were analysed to determine which multimedia elements or combination of multimedia elements were present in the software and which of those the students found most motivating. The portion of the software used was comprised of two modules. The modules that were chosen were consistent with the student's level of aural music ability. Some of the students worked through the computerised music lessons individually while others were assigned in pairs consisting of similar age and ability. The students in pairs were observed interacting with the software. On completion of the lessons the students were asked to complete a questionnaire evaluating their attitudes on the multimedia lesson to ascertain how engaging they found it. The students were also interviewed to gather their opinions about the experience of using the software. Findings from this research indicate that motivating music education software should include some features that were well accommodated as well as those that were identified as lacking or non-existent in the Musicolour product. The findings reveal that a good motivational music education software package should contain features that grab and maintain the user's attention using elements such as characters, colours, cartoons, humour and allow for creativity. The product should contain varied and challenging tasks to perform. It should contain clear, non-ambiguous instructions for tasks. It should allow the user more control over the learning environment and offer them learning aids such as on-line help, context sensitive help or the ability to easily locale and replay instructional material at one click away from where they are in the program. It should provide relevant and constructive feedback to exercises or tasks attempted. It should support collaborative learning environments. It should allow for role-playing using different types of instruments, such that the student can choose an instrument relevant to what they are learning to perform the activities within the software. The study also highlighted that the software elements of the product themselves were not the only motivating factors to the participants. Other outside factors observed were those of collaboration when working in pairs and the motivating effect of the using the computer technology.

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