Student success, especially at the collegiate level, can be motivationally challenging even for the most dedicated students.
Between balancing a social, academic and professional life it can be a difficult task to stay focused on studies, but one thing seems to remain helpful when students need to keep their heads in the books.
As I walked around CSUSB one day I couldn’t help but notice just about everyone I saw on their laptops or reading their textbooks had headphones in. Some were even bobbing their heads to the beat of whatever they were listening to.
I thought about it for a moment and realized I do the same when I study or write a paper. I believe music is helping me and others to study better.
I even feel that many times I get a lot more work is done when I’m listening to music than when I’m not, so I decided to find out why, and what helps other students get their work done.
First I asked students what they like to listen to when studying, and why they listen to it. The responses were surprisingly diverse.
“I believe I study longer and better with music. I like trance because it’s smooth and helps me to focus,” Cary Menijuar, a business administration major at CSUSB, said.
According to a research team at Stanford University School of Medicine, music attracts areas of the brain involved with paying attention, making predictions and memory. They also suggest that listening to and creating music be a possible way that the brain trains itself to be able to sustain attention.
Another student prefers an alternative to music while studying.
“I listen to music while doing homework, but not while studying. I prefer to have silence while studying because I can actually study without distractions,” Shan’t Cazares, a criminal justice major at CSUSB, said.
After talking with students I looked into the which types of studying playlists on websites such as Pandora and Spotify.
The top three playlists featured on Spotify after typing the word “study” into the search engine are Instrumental, Study Zone and Deep Concentration. They are all very different from one another.
The Instrumental playlist was filled with a more classical style of music. The songs included lots of piano, and were more or less very slow paced songs with absolutely no lyrics.
The second playlist on the study search was called the study zone. This had very modern uplifting songs with lyrics that sang ballads. The rhythm was still fairly slow and incorporated much piano and guitar.
The third was titled Deep Concentration, and it was completely different from the others. The songs were a much faster pace and held a lot of bass. The lyrics were simple and redundant.
Professor Webster Watnik, a full-time lecturer at CSUSB, plays music during class periods when students bring in their homework to work on to keep a relaxed atmosphere.
“I choose the club/dance music because those songs have simple lyrics and a strong beat. Some of my classes are at night and it helps my students stay awake. I tried soft jazz once and it put everyone to sleep,” Watnik said.
According to an article by Shannon L. Jewell published by Arizona State University’s school of life sciences, a study was done to test the stress of participants after listening to music.
The participants showed a shorter stress response in anxious situations, meaning their body was less tired and more relaxed after having listened to music.
It seems that no matter what your music preference, it can be a solid tool when it comes to student success. Whether the music relaxes you, stimulates your attention span, or is only necessary for certain academic activities music may lead to a more appealing quality of life.
“I believe certain people need a certain type of music to help them relax and focus. Everyone is different and music affects everyone differently,” Robert Freitas, a computer systems and game development major at CSUSB said.