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Our Song: Evaluating the Effect of Music During the Pre-class Period on Student Achievements of Learning Objectives

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2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 14, 2015

Start Date

June 14, 2015

End Date

June 17, 2015





Conference Session

First-year Programs Division Technical Session 5: Using Video, Games, and More in the First Year

Tagged Division

First-Year Programs

Page Count


Page Numbers

26.1212.1 - 26.1212.10



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Paper Authors


Angel Ari Perez-Mejia Quinnipiac University

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Ari Perez-Mejia earned his undergraduate degree in civil engineering at the Universidad Tecnologica Centroamericana (UNITEC) in Honduras, and did his graduate work at the University of South Carolina. He received his PhD in 2014 and joined the engineering faculty at Quinnipiac University that same year. His interests are in the conservation of archaeological sites and in engineering education.

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John E. Greenleaf P.E. Quinnipiac University

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John Greenleaf received his Ph.D. from Lehigh University in 2007 and is a licensed professional engineer. In 2013 he joined the faculty of Quinnipiac University to lead the development of a new Civil Engineering program within a newly established engineering school. His professional background includes work in environmental engineering, construction, and undergraduate engineering education.

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Priscilla C Fonseca P.E. Quinnipiac University

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Priscilla Fonseca is an assistant professor of civil engineering at Quinnipiac University. Prior to joining Quinnipiac, Dr. Fonseca was a research associate and teaching fellow at Princeton University. She also has structural engineering experience in industry and she is licensed as a professional engineer. She holds a PhD from Northwestern University, an MSE from University of Michigan, and an SB from MIT, all in civil engineering.

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Chris Hakala Quinnipiac University

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Chris Hakala is the director of university teaching and learning at qunnipiac university. Chris has a Ph.D. In experimental psychology and has been a faculty member and administrator in various colleges and universities for almost 20 years. His research interests include memory, language and the teaching/learning process.

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Evaluating the Effect of the Pre-class Environment on Student Attitudes and Learning ObjectivesThe moments prior to the start of class provide many opportunities for engaging with students ina less formal setting. These moments can be used to establish a pre-class environment conduciveto student motivation, focus, confidence, and ultimately the achievement of learning objectives.For example, the pre-class environment could include informal conversations between thestudents and instructor. These conversations can help the students develop rapport with theinstructor, while giving the instructor an opportunity to evaluate student perceptions about coursedifficulty or workload. The pre-class environment could also be non-conversational. Forexample, playing music that is topically related to the class subject (e.g. playing “GoodVibrations” before delivering a lecture on mechanical vibrations) may increase motivation, focusattention, or generate excitement. As instructors will often have a preferred pre-classenvironment, there is a large amount of anecdotal evidence on its effect on student attitudes.However, there is little discussion on the impact (if any) of the pre-class environment on studentlearning objectives. This study uses a multi-dimensional experimental model to measure theimpact of the pre-class environment on both student attitudes and learning objectives. Fourdifferent pre-class environments are tested: 1) informal conversations, 2) topical music, 3)informal conversations with low volume music in the background, and 4) no activity. Studentperceptions about their learning environment and the achievement of student learning outcomeswere evaluated. Recommendations to enhance both are given based on the findings. Given thepotential benefit, this work also examines some of the practical aspects of pre-class activities,including instructor preferences and the transition to regular class time. 

Perez-Mejia, A. A., & Greenleaf, J. E., & Fonseca, P. C., & Hakala, C. (2015, June), Our Song: Evaluating the Effect of Music During the Pre-class Period on Student Achievements of Learning Objectives Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.24549

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