Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)



First Advisor

Jacob Hall, Ph.D


This action research project used a mixed methods design to address the effect of different types of music on student focus while performing an independent task. Despite its success with memorization, does music work equally as well on student focus? Data was collected over a period of three weeks for 30 minutes each morning for 5 days each week. The music played while students completed the task changed each week. This included lyrical songs during week one, classical music during week two, and instrumental versions of songs students knew the lyrics to during week three. Four behavior markers were observed as indications of students having difficulty focusing on the independent task. Initial findings suggest that classical music had the greatest positive impact on student focus with engagement in behavioral markers averaging at the lowest rate per day. Meanwhile, songs with lyrics, like in week one, proved to be the most distracting. Instrumental versions of songs they knew the lyrics to were more distracting than classical music however, fell within the acceptable range of focus ability. This potentially could be due to how close instrumental versions of popular songs mimic classical music. This project does also discuss other factors that may influence student focus and how music can address those factors as well to improve student focus while completing an independent task.