Thursday, February 21, 2008

My Upcoming Presentation at Texas Tech Workshop

Today I am giving a presentation entitled, "Teaching through Song… in Non-Musical Disciplines," as a pre-conference workshop at the 4th Annual Advancing Teaching and Learning Conference at my home institution, Texas Tech University. Below is the abstract of my presentation:

Over the past year, I have come up with a unique way to supplement traditional lecturing in my classes – writing my own subject-specific lyrics to existing popular songs and singing them in class. In my view, such musical performances (with the lyrics available on class web pages) may promote student learning in at least two ways:

First, the lyrics themselves convey key concepts from the course. To the extent students can memorize the lyrics (or key portions thereof), that could help them keep ideas salient in their minds.

Second, experiencing these sing-along activities tends to put students in happy moods. A major review article on the cognitive and behavioral consequences of being in a good mood (Lyubomirsky, King, & Diener, 2005, “The Benefits of Frequent Positive Affect: Does Happiness Lead to Success?” Psychological Bulletin, Vol. 131) concludes that:

“…laboratory findings on induced positive moods suggest that pleasant emotions enhance performance on simple measures of flexible thinking and originality” (p. 838).

During my proposed session, I will exhibit some of my sets of lyrics, sing a little bit, and discuss the feasibility of having other instructors transfer the activity into their classes.

My thanks to everyone who attended and to the conference organizer who oversaw my participation. For the latter, I've written a little musical tribute!

Oh, Suzanne Tapp
Lyrics by Alan Reifman
(May be sung to the chorus of “Oh Susannah,” Stephen Foster)

Oh, Suzanne Tapp,
Of the TLTC,
She helps enhance the teaching,
Of Texas Tech’s faculty...