Analog synthesizers in the classroom: How creative play, musical composition, and project-based learning can enhance STEM standard literacy and self-efficacy
Howe, Christopher David
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The state of STEM education in America's high schools is currently in flux, with billions annually being poured into the NSF to increase national STEM literacy. Hands-on project-based learning interventions in the STEM classroom are ubiquitous but tend to focus on robotics or competition based curriculums. These curricula do not address musical creativity or cultural relevancy to reach under-represented or disinterested groups. By utilizing an analog synthesizer for STEM learning standards this research aims to engage students that may otherwise lack confidence in the field. By incorporating the Maker Movement, a STEAM architecture, and culturally relevant musical examples, this study’s goal to build both self-efficacy and literacy in STEM within under-represented groups through hands-on exercises with a Moog analog synthesizer, specifically the Moog Werkstatt. A quasi-experimental one-group pre-test/post-test design was crafted to determine study validity, and has been implemented in three separate studies. Several age demographics were selected across a variety of classroom models and teaching style. The purpose of this wide net was to explore where a tool like the Werkstatt and its accompanying curriculum would have the biggest impact. Results show that this curriculum and technique are largely ineffective in an inverted Music elective classroom. However, in the STEM classroom, literacy and confidence were built across genders, with females showing greater increases in engineering confidence and music technology interest than their male counterparts.