The Effects of Auditory Distractors in a Word Learning Task
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Publisher:The Ohio State University
Series/Report no.:The Ohio State University. Department of Psychology Undergraduate Research Theses; 2014
The topic of learning with background sound has been a widely researched field of study. This research examined whether word learning performance is affected by the presence of background noise, such as music or television in an Easy (Study 1) and Difficult (Study 2) word learning task. In Study 1, college undergraduate students (n=98) were presented novel objects (modern art sculptures) with an auditory nonsense label for each object. Four background sound conditions were used: calm music, pop music, silence and television weather excerpts. The results indicated there was a main effect of the participants’ perceived distraction on the accuracy of the participants’ scores; the more distracting the participants perceived the background sound to be, the lower their word learning. A second study of college undergraduate students (n=100) was conducted to test task reliability and to determine if background noise had the same effect on a more difficult word learning task. For Study 2, the number of word presentations during training was reduced to make the task more difficult. The sound conditions remained the same. The results from Study 2 indicated there was a main effect of background sound on word learning performance during a difficult task. Participants in sound conditions with vocals had lower accuracy scores than those in the non-vocal sound condition. The more difficult a task, the more detrimental sound with vocals is on performance in contrast to an easier task where background noise was only detrimental if the participants perceived it to be distracting. This may have implications for how classroom environments are structured.
Academic Major: Psychology