Music and Assistive Technology as Behavioral Management, Social Performance, and Academic Acceleration Tools in the Special Education Classroom

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Bell, Caroline, School of Engineering and Applied Science, University of Virginia
Neeley, Kathryn, University of Virginia

There has been a failure to integrate elementary school special education students within the general classroom, leading them to need more assistance when it comes to academic instruction, behavioral management, and peer-to-peer socialization (The Use of Technology in the Special Education Classroom, 2023). Assistive technology is a specific form of technology used in special education classrooms to help students with learning disabilities. Introduction to the arts in special education also serves as a tool to help students increase their focus, discipline, and motivation. Specifically, “research supports connections between speech and singing, rhythm and motor behavior, memory for recall and retention of academic material, and overall ability of preferred music to enhance mood, attention, and behavior to optimize the student’s ability to learn and interact” (American Music Therapy Association, Inc., 2021). The individual use of these tools has been used to assist with the above needs of students with learning disabilities, as well as create an overall promoted culture of inclusivity. However, the integration of these two tools for special education students and why it hasn’t previously been done hasn’t been thoroughly researched. Additionally, it appears that developers of applications for elementary school students have not been required to see special education students as one of the stakeholder groups of their products. With around 15% of students being labeled as special education students and the ratio of special education students to teachers being 17:1 (Riser-Kositsky, 2019), assistive technology is necessary in ensuring special education students receive the attention they require. Additionally, it has been identified that 70% of students improved in their individualized education plan (IEP) progress, communication, social skills, and social response when introduced to music (Changes Seen in Students Due to Music Therapy, 2019). There is an opportunity to integrate music and assistive technology in the special education classroom but the question rests on the most effective way to use them simultaneously. In response to the current work I am doing in developing an application to teach music to students with learning disabilities, I researched how the integration of music and assistive technology can serve as behavioral management, social performance, and academic acceleration tools in the special education classroom. Specifically, I developed a deep understanding of the needs of special education students as they are related to the development of a piece of assistive technology that includes music education. This understanding led to the development of Music Mobile, a mobile application designed to make arts education accessible to all students.

BS (Bachelor of Science)
Assistive Technology, Music, Special Education
All rights reserved (no additional license for public reuse)
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