Yezreel Valley College (ISRAEL)
About this paper:
Appears in: EDULEARN21 Proceedings
Publication year: 2021
Pages: 332-341
ISBN: 978-84-09-31267-2
ISSN: 2340-1117
doi: 10.21125/edulearn.2021.0111
Conference name: 13th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 5-6 July, 2021
Location: Online Conference
The Integration of several academic disciplines was originated when global mission-oriented projects had to be addressed. Projects such as brain research, sophisticated applications, finding a cure to a disease, and more. To address the above need, the STEAM education approach was developed, integrating the Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics disciplines (or part of them). Moreover, to prepare future citizens for the challenges of a technology-oriented world, technological disciplines (such as programming) should be taught to students starting from early ages. Via learning how to program students to develop problem-solving abilities, analytic thinking abilities, creative thinking, and computer literacy. However, learning programming is perceived to be a difficult task since it requires a certain abstraction ability that elementary school students did not develop yet. To overcome this obstacle, the abstract programming concepts are mediated to students via their concrete use.

In this pilot study, participated 11 six-grade students from a regional school. The music part of the learning concerned traditional songs of Jewish holidays. Via the programming of the songs, the need for programming concepts such as variables, methods, repetitive commands, parameters, parallel processes was raised. During periods between two holidays, the students were engaged in developing a project that included the programming of one of the holiday's songs and developed animation or a game accompanying the chosen song. An award-winning competition was held in which the projects were rated by the students according to a pre-selected list of criteria. The academic level of requirements from projects was raised from one holiday to another. The last project was carried out in teams so that the students would experience teamwork. This project was interrupted near the end of it due to the Covid19 pandemic.

The study aimed to explore the students' perceptions as regards the suggested learning method and its effect on the students' self-perceptions as regards their abilities to cope with programming. The data resources were informal interviews at the beginning of the study aiming to reveal the students' perceptions as regards the learning of programming and their abilities to cope with it. In-depth interviews were conducted with the study participants to reveal changes in the students' perceptions as regards the learning of programming via music. A reflective diary of the researcher in which the students' learning progress and insights gained by the researcher were documented. The data analysis tools used were inductive and content analysis.

Analysis of the data revealed references to emotional and cognitive aspects. The students reported experiencing feelings of enjoyment and satisfaction during the learning process. The enjoyment was a result of the presence of music in class which instilled a relaxed atmosphere. Satisfaction stemmed from the immediate successes outcomes when they were able to reach the preciseness of the programmed song. As a result, their self-confidence in their ability to handle programming tasks increased. The music programming allowed them to get a glimpse into a concrete meaning of abstract concepts such as variable, parameter, and more. The need for learning the programming concepts stemmed from the students which made the learning process effective and meaningful.
STEAM education, music programming, programming concepts, and constructs.