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Use of original music videos and student karaoke exercises to teach ecology/evolution

Presented by
Gary Grossman, PhD, University of Georgia (GA)

Since 2012 I have used music as a pedagogical method in ecology classes. I began by writing and performing songs based on class materials including concepts, habitats, and species' biology and posting these videos on the web. This led to production of an ecology/evolution CD entitled Natural Voices ( Questionnaire results indicated that the music videos significantly improved attitudes towards class and studying. I transformed this exercise into one involving active learning by having students make their own karaoke video. Students had to write the lyrics and sing/rap them but could use video and music from the web for their videos. I have used the videos in five undergraduate and one graduate class and evaluated effectiveness via 10-14 question, Likert-scale questionnaires and triangulation interviews. Undergraduate classes were dominated by non-science majors in their first or second year. Simple analyses for all classes indicated there were significantly more positive responses than negative responses to various aspects of the exercise. Students showed little preference for the different aspects of the exercise (writing lyrics, singing, research, video production, etc.). The karaoke exercise had a strong positive impact on student's perceptions and performance in class.