ADHD, the classroom and music : a case study
Wiebe, Joni Erin
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Students with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) are usually inattentive and disruptive in class, are at high risk for chronic academic achievement difficulties, and may develop problems in relationships with peers, parents, and teachers (DuPaul, Stoner, 2003). One of the primary goals of behavioural treatment for ADHD is to enable a student to develop adequate levels of self-control (Barkley, 1990; DuPaul & Stoner, 1994). Methods are needed in the classroom, which give the child or adolescent with ADHD, control over his or her condition and thus increased independence, more experiences with success, and increased resiliency. Listening to music has many therapeutic applications, including the development of cognitive skills such as attention and memory (Canadian Association for Music Therapy, 2006). Music is accessible to all teachers and students, and is an easy strategy to implement in classrooms. Yet, despite the knowledge that adolescents are active users of music media (North, Hargreaves, & O’Neill, 2000), little research on music and ADHD participants has been completed. Through the use of a single subject case study, the purpose of this research was: look at the academic experience that an adolescent male diagnosed with ADHD faced in his life at school; and to gain a better understanding of how music could potentially affect his ability to self-regulate and cope with the detrimental effects of ADHD during in-class seat work and homework. Multiple interviews with one boy, his parents, and teachers across a 14-week period of time provided a primary source of data. Results indicated that the adolescent’s experiences with listening to music during school and homework increased the time that he was able to attend and concentrate. Unexpected gains included an increase in his ability to recall information during exams, and an increase in motivation, positive attitude, and mood towards school work as a result of enjoying listening to his favourite music. However, the study also involved the unexpected and disheartening discovery of clashing and competing voices that perhaps ultimately rendered the boy’s positive experiences with music insignificant, given the louder rule-and-order school culture. The pragmatic realities of working within a school context will need to be considered and strategically addressed if students are to benefit from practices that help even though they may be unconventional and not fully understood.
DegreeMaster of Education (M.Ed.)
DepartmentEducational Psychology and Special Education
ProgramEducational Psychology and Special Education
SupervisorNicol, Jennifer A. J.
CommitteeMcIntyre, Laureen; Farthing, Gerald; Claypool, Tim