Date of Award

7-16-2015

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Communications Media

First Advisor

Mary Beth Leidman, Ed.D.

Second Advisor

Jay Start, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Zachary Stiegler, Ph.D.

Abstract

This study examined the effects of audio and gender in a 3D gaming environment on the achievement of different educational objectives. A sample of undergraduate Communications Media students from a mid-sized university in Western Pennsylvania were recruited to take part in the study during Fall 2014. Participants were randomly assigned to one of three groups: Control (no music), Treatment 1 (Mozart's Sonata for Two Pianos in D Major), or Treatment 2 (self-selected music via Spotify). The study utilized a 2 X 3 factorial post-test only design with two independent variables: audio (3 levels - none, default, and self-selected) and gender (2 levels - male and female). The dependent variable measured achievement on three criterion-referenced tests (identification, terminology, and comprehension) as well as an aggregate score for each group. The tests were based on content created by Dwyer and Lamberski (1977) as adapted by Almeida (2008). Information processing theory, as well as research on audio in educational media, suggests that participants that listened to music while engaging with the educational game utilized in this study would underperform on achievement tests as compared to participants that received no audio treatment. No significant difference was found between subjects that received no audio treatment and subjects that listened to Mozart - though the Mozart group outperformed the Control on composite scores by 7.77% (out of 100%). Both the Control and Mozart group outperformed the self-selected group significantly. In addition, overall, females outperformed males on achievement tests. Further analysis discovered that participants self-identifying as a gamer or non-gamer can have an effect on performance. Overall, the study found that both music and gender do play a role in participants' achievement on criterion-referenced tests as they relate to instructional content.

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