As I think about my favorite in class activities, I have to admit a lot of my favorites I first learned from others at teaching conferences or in teaching books. In this post I want to highlight my twist on an activity I learned at NITOP last January (2018) involving personality and songs in introduction to psychology.
The original version of this activity was introduced during NITOP’s teaching slam by Scott King (Shenandoah University). In the activity, students used pop songs to construct scales and understand the concept of validity.
I took inspiration from the assignment and made an activity that would complement a lecture on personality in general psychology. In class, students complete a Big 5 inventory to introduce them to trait theory and to learn more about themselves. We then cover what trait theory is, discuss the Big 5 traits, and discuss the person-situation debate. This typically takes 30 minutes.
Then, I have students pair up and identify songs that fit with each of the five traits. This activity has taken different forms. Last spring, students picked their songs, then each group shared a song for each trait and we discussed them as a class. Afterwards, I put together a “playlist” with music videos for each trait and posted it on the LMS. In my online section of this class, students do a similar task in a discussion forum, including their own links to songs and discussing why they chose those songs. They also responded to each other about its fit as well as other possible fits for the song. This fall, I added a component to have students identify a specific lyric that embodied the trait.
Overall, this activity is a great way for students to interact with the material in a way that is incredibly personal and meaningful. They get a chance to apply their learning to their lives by examining the music they listen to all the time. Furthermore, they get a chance to share their musical tastes with me and each other which is always a good time.
What other ways could we use music to teach other concepts in our courses? Comment below with your ideas.
Written by Ciara Kidder